Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The things your not told about riding a bike.

My day job (as most of you know) is working for a commercial printer in the suburbs of the East Bay. There I scan transparencies, smooth out blotchy skin and remove blemishes from the faces of paid models in brochures and flyers. Not very rewarding, however it beats my last job working in the business office of my art school.

I have spent the last five years exclusively around art people, while in school and then working at the school. Now I am thrust back into the other 95% of humanity and to them I am an outsider.

Now I don’t mean this in the typical High school way, they are all very gracious. Yet, there are a few things I do that make them look at me a little cockeyed.

For example I ride a bike. I am originally from Los Angeles where one has to have a car. When I moved to Oakland for school I realized that here you don’t need to have a car so badly. I have done really well to get by on busses, the Bart and my bike. There is even a type of hipster here that has built their subculture around bikes (which I am not one off… to them I am just a nerd, but nonetheless a peer in two wheeled mobility).

However the further inland you go in the East Bay the rules begin to change on you, and a bike rider is no longer viewed as an upstanding possibly even cool member of society, but as just some poor bastard without a car.

" My new ride."

Recently my office was in hysterics because one of the Customer Service Reps (a 24 year old whom we’ll call Maura) bought a new car, a candy red Audi A3. Maura was rightfully excited and everyone left his or her stations to go drool over it. All of course except me… because I don’t really care about cars. This isn’t even defiance against cars, just a reluctance to care. At my work every one talks about nice cars they’ll never buy, houses they hope to own, gadgets, and the richest people in the world. Then I usually pipe up with something like “ Don’t you hate having honey on your hands.”

But I’d be lying if I said that this made me turn my critical third eye (the one right above my other two hidden by my Beatle’esque bangs) onto myself . Especially since my bike riding to work days are numbered as I am going to be buying a car while in LA Next Weekend.. Here are some noteworthy reflections from my tenure as a two wheeler:

Observation the First:
1. Wind: The wind is the bicyclist’s natural enemy, it will push at you and make steering a pain in the ass. It also causes falling leaves and twigs to get in your eyes. If you are not vigilant it will knock you down and steal your wallet and your pride.

Observation the Second and so forth:
2. Cold knuckles: Not only is the Bay Area cold at 6:30 am in the morning the wind that whips at a bike rider is even colder. The result: knuckles that freeze into ice cubes. I could safely say that I know what the victims of Mr. Freeze are going through.

3. Sweat: After a long bike ride when I run up the apartment stairs and peel my jacket off, I am as slippery as a newborn dolphin. This complicates your attire for going to work, as new dress shirts can get the dreaded armpit shadow that vain metrosexuals (like me) fear more than love handles. Therefore where everyone else at work looks cute in their non-sweaty clothes, you are red faced and panting in paint-splattered jeans.

4. Bart trains: Have you ever felt the harsh eyes of loathing upon you from a crowd of people? No, then enter an early morning Bart train crowded with bleary-eyed people with your trusty two-wheeled steed. When you do this everyone will gawk at you with that same “ what an inconsiderate prick” look on their faces. This is how Frankenstein’s monster felt when looking at the angry townsfolk. It is not uncommon for you to be ushered of the train by the torches and pitchforks Bart riders keep in their briefcases.

"The calm before the storm"

5. Hookers: I ride past them everyday. Take a little jaunt down Macarthur blvd. At about 6:25 am and you get a good long look at all the goods. What I learned: Well to do white men will take a hooker to Carl’s Jr. pre or post the exchange of a aforementioned goods. It’s right down the street from the Skank Hotel, and Western Bacon Cheese Burgers are only a dollar! Who could ask for better!

6. Pot holes: they suck, especially when you are drunk and it is 2:30 in the morning. You should have gone home hours ago but your friends party was just too much fun and you hate crashing at someone’s’ house (because then you have to sleep with your socks on and that just can’t happen.). This is even more complicated when some asshole has stolen your bike seat and you in your drunken confusion can’t imagine why you would buy a bike without a seat.

" Hamburger Hooker and the Sleepin' Socks"

7. Exhaust Fumes: Just because you don’t own a car that doesn’t mean you don’t get to enjoy them. I am now a connoisseur of exhaust and I can safely say that Sports Cars provide the taster with the most flavorful bouquet, and long lasting burning after taste.

8. Coffee: No matter how hermetically sealed your thermos is, coffee has it’s own agenda. That agenda is to leak on your bag filled with comic books and sketchbooks. It’ll happen kids don’t ride with coffee unless you enjoy smelling like an espresso machine and wrinkly pages of Batman.

I’m sure there are more but that is all for now. Keep living the dream Bay Area!



Blogger ert said...

this was a fun story to read. though, i am developing an appreciation for panting and sweaty in paint-splattered jeans, i understand it's not for everyone. -ert

9:52 AM  

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