Monday, March 16, 2009

Cue the Queen music.

If you have a moment, and only if you're comfortable with it, but would you mind letting go of the mouse, closing your eyes, and saying a quick, silent prayer? I would truly appreciate it, as would a very dear friend of mine whose health recently took a turn for the nasty. Truth be told, I had seen it coming for some time, though when things finally came to pass, no one could have foreseen the manner in which my friend toppled. It's like they say - "When it rains, it pours?" Well, stormy skies certainly raged last week when, after an active lifetime despite ill health, and on something so simple as the daily commute to work, my dear friend's rusted iron seat snapped clean off.

Oh, my friend is a bicycle. I really hope that last sentence made it obvious.

Anyways, the seat thing came from out of the blue, but the tires and the breaks have been giving me trouble since day one, when I bought it second-hand last May. It doesn't help that I over-ride it, but I really do love my bicycle. Like most of the "mama-chari" (ママチャリ) that are popular here, it's equipped with a basket for food shopping and a built-in lock that essentially stops the back wheel from turning; however, while those are single speeds, mine's a six-speed. This might be why I'm so reluctant to just give up and buy a new one, actually; the thought of tackling hills with a common used bike gives me chills. It's Spring now. The time for chills has passed.

Still, it took far too long to get my bicycle the in-patient treatment. (I keep saying "bicycle" instead of "bike" for a reason. In Japan, if you say "bike" - バイク - you get gapes, since that happens to be the word for "motorcycle.") The first place I went to ignored my requests for a checkup, instead skipping straight to insisting that I needed a new one, and that said new bike had to be the most expensive model in the store. The second place, a multi-national chain called "Don Quixote," twice informed me that I'd have to wait until there was an opening just to check it. (The man who said that then promptly went back to lolling around in his fold up chair and scowling. Way to hold on to potential business, corporate world!) The third place said that it would be too expensive to fix, and I'd just need to get something else repaired in the near future, so it would be better to ride my consumptive behemoth to its death, then buy something better. I began searching the Sayonara Sales and sending out e-mails.

And then, on a whim, I went to one more place, where a sweet old guy gave me a loaner bike and, after an agonizing hesitation, promised that he could patch up the old girl for 5000 yen, about $50.

So we wait.

It's always something.

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