“Did you ride your bike today?”
A casual and innocent question posed by my grill cook1, and I wonder where she’s going with this. She had to know damn well I rode it here, she had to walk past it when she walked in the back door to the kitchen. Just a few minutes ago discussed the fact that she had just seen me riding my bike on my way in to town. She even teased me about wearing a helmet. “Why did you need a ride home?” I answer her suspiciously.
“No, I’m cut early tonight anyway,” she says, “I was just wondering because it’s supposed to rain.”
Not being much of a gambler, I am pretty much on top of the weather when I plan out my day. Today as always I checked right before I got on the bike and though rain was likely, I would be home by then. Given a margin for error I pack extra clothes to keep off what ever light sprinkle might happen on the way. Confident in my preparations I strode to the back of the kitchen, kicked open the back door stepped out side and then, arms stretched out I spun around a few times, looking up at the sky.
There wasn’t a cloud to be seen.
I took this gift as an opportunity to ridicule my coworker for not riding her bike like she usually does because she was afraid of a little rain. Rain, what rain? Was she going to melt? After years of hanging out with her after work when I was still a hopeless drunk2, I know for a fact she was not made of sugar. Soon the dinner rush started and I was too busy pushing out plates to keep beating that particular horse.
After things settled down Jennie was free to clock out. While she was having a parting smoke with all the rest of the ne’er do wells out back I poked my head out of the door and taunted her some more. We exchanged a few sarcastic and caustic remarks before she went on her way.
You Call This Rain?
A fine mist covered everything as I left the kitchen that night. Nothing to worry about, it was mostly just a fog with a bit more vertical activity. I put in my ear buds, clicked on the tracking app, buckled my chin strap, turned on my lights and pedaled out of the back alley and into traffic.
Ten minutes into my ride I’m halfway home, the rain such as it is, begins to pick up as I pass the Walgreen’s that marks my last opportunity to take any kind of shelter until I get to the house. I pull off the road onto the sidewalk just long enough to transfer my phone from my front pocket to my shoulder bag and pressed on.
Two minutes later I begin a descent down the first of the many steep hills on my route when there is this bright flash and crack of thunder as the sky just opens up on me. Huge drops bounce of my helmet, as if someone upended a bag of Skittles on my head as I coast downward picking up speed, just ahead the traffic signal that some stupid, sadistic son of a bitch decided to install at the bottom of the hill turns red. Naturally at this point I attempt to brake.
Attempt is an accurate description because what really happened when I squeezed the lever and my brake pads managed to grab the rain slicked tires, is that said tires then skidded on the wet pavement turning me sideways. Careening at high speeds lengthwise down a hill towards an intersection in nearly blinding rain, while marginally preferred to a total wipe out, is a fairly scary proposition. I was barely maintaining balance, and could feel the bike trying to fall over forward down the hill, even if I dropped it there was little chance I could get clear of the damned thing, I’d probably be dragged down the pavement several feet. I had my helmet on but that wouldn’t help my legs and ribs much either way.
Before I fell into a total panic I chanced dropping my foot off the pedal, the sole of my sneaker was just dry enough to make traction and I managed to right myself and stop, my front tire barely over the stop line as the light turned green again.
I unclenched my sphincter, and took a deep breath. To hell with it, I thought, I’ve got this far I’m already wet, I’m riding this bastard home. I steadied my nerves pushed off on the left, and got my bike going again.
Up and down the hills I rode, the rain getting heavier. The harder it fell the more it sounded like someone laughing at me. I was thoroughly sodden and pushing my pedals with bleak resolve I trudged onward. Not being able to stop and remove them my ear buds became a new source of aggravation as my phone began to ring through them, this was obviously my wife calling me to tell me not to get hit by lightning3. Unable to get it out of the shoulder bag without getting it wet I was forced to let it ring through to voice mail. Adding to my irritation was the immediate text alert I received after I failed to pick up the phone.
Finally home my wife was waiting on the front porch to bring me a towel, and to admonish me for not stopping somewhere to wait out the storm. Pealing off my outer layer I manage to get in and change with minimal drippage. I empty my bag, which turned out to be considerably waterproof. I retrieve my phone and see that the text was not from my wife but from Jennie, my grill cook.
Clearly the moral of this tale is,
I am a sarcastic ass that deserved to get rained on for making fun of my friend. Hopefully now I have learned that Karma is a bitch.
Except, I think that is utter nonsense because:
It takes me on average a little over twenty minutes to ride home.
That evening the floor manager lost his wine key. This particular wine opener isn’t one of these cheap convenience store items most people have banging around in the kitchen drawer. His wife bought this for him, it was expensive, he’d be in trouble if she found out he had mislaid it; so I spent about fifteen minutes helping him look for it.
The downpour started ten minutes into the ride, meaning that I should have been home almost a full five minutes before the storm had I not stayed and helped him.
And therefore it is really,
No good deed goes unpunished.