I started riding my bike to my internship at the Georgetowner after two days of riding the bus. In short I hated the bus and really couldn't ride it two hours a day anymore. Taking Foldy (my affection name for my folding bike) to work was like a dream come true.
The terrain can be a little rough between 8th street NE and Georgetown at times and there are tons of intersections to cross, but I found joy in it and riding to my internship became a peaceful time to think and mull over all that I am learning from living here in DC.
Today my happy little time with Foldy turned into total madness and frustration. I noticed on my way to Georgetown that my right pedal was not moving smoothly. I stopped to look at it to realize that it was loose. I made it safe and sound to Georgetown though and left Foldy at his normal bike rack at Dean and Deluca, next door to where I work.
I texted my little brother, my amazing bike mechanic who's always there when I need him, and asked what I had to do to fix Foldy. He wrote me back talking about using a 15mm wrench to fix it. Being the little blonde that I am of course my first thought was, "what's a 15mm wrench?" Whatever it is I know I don't have one here with me in DC so that option was out. The only option I had was to hope that Foldy would make it back to my apartment after work.
I, however, was not so lucky. I made it maybe a mile from Georgetown before the pedal came off completely. I found a grassy knoll and tried with all my might to fix it thinking, "this can't be happening. I still have four and a half miles back to my apartment."
It was happening though. The threads on the crank arm were stripped. There was no fixing it even with a 15mm wrench, whatever that is. I was at the Lincoln Memorial and suddenly that beautfiul landscape of the National Mall that I had so looked forward to for months seemed like the longest stretch of endless walking.
I set my sights on the Smithsonian Metro stop which is about in the middle of the Mall and started walking. A man in an "I love (heart) DC "shirt sitting on a bench said, "Hey lady, what happened did your bike break?" I istantanely turned and glared at him. I did not mean it at all I was just stressed. He said, "Hey sorry lady that stinks." All I could think was, yep!
I came to a crosswalk and waited what felt like forever. A man in worn clothes with what looked like his whole life on the rack on the back of his bike said, "Hey let me see what happened to your bike. I bet I could fix it."
I was touched everyone else I had passed had kind of made fun of me and my bad fortune, but here was this guy who wanted to fix my bike on a curb while we waited for a walk sign. I explained how the threads were stripped and he looked at me with sympethetic eyes. "Sorry to hear that. Good luck," he said.
I kept walking. How was the Mall suddenly so long. It felt like there was no end in sight, until finally I spotted the Smithsonian Metro stop. I got questioned by a few more people before I made it but the fact is I made it.
Foldy had never been on an escalator. I was worried I was going to drop him, but both of us made it down safely. Everyone looked at me funny, trying to get on the Metro with a bike during rush hour. I made it on though and people were pretty sympethetic to my situation.
I had to transfer though at Metro Center from the green/yellow line to the red line to make it home. Metro Center is crazy busy at five o'clock. I had a hard time getting on and watched a few trains pass by. Finally I remembered that Foldy...well folds. So I folded him up and it became alot easier to get on. I still got the many questions about what happened, but at this point I had decided to take it in stride and not glare at anyone.
Union Station never looked so good. I was so close to home. As I passedan Exxon a man who sits there and greets people said, "Hey I've got a bike just like that only it's not a Schwinn." My first instinct was to say lucky, but I just smiled. "What happened to him?" he asked. This was the first time I had ever heard anyone, aside from myself, refer to a bike in the masculine versus the neuter. I told him what happened and he told me he was sorry for me. "Stay safe," he hollered.
I smiled. So many people tried to help me that day. I realized how amazing and crucial a sympethetic and caring disposition are to a community.