Sounds like the beginning of a joke, right?
I assure you it is not. But before I tell you the story, let me toot my own horn a bit.
I rode 5.5 miles on my bike today!
It was actually quite pleasant.
Well, aside from the incident after church this morning. Involving my bike, two Catholics, a homeless man with a patch over his eye, a hacksaw and me.
Now that it is over and done with, it is quite amusing.
Although my feet are not so amused.
You probably want to hear the story, right?
So there I was this morning, outside the church. Preparing to lock up my bike and start my day with 8:00 a.m. Mass as I usually do on Saturdays. But today, I had ridden my bike instead of the bus. I was feeling quite proud!
I scouted out a good place to lock up my bike. I was a bit worried about my little white basket attached to the front. I glanced nervously towards the door of the church. There was a homeless person tightly rolled up in a blanket by the door. Looked like a human cocoon.
I pulled out my combination lock-cable. It barely fit through the basket and around the post in front of the church. And when I went to lock it, it would not! I was feeing quite anxious. I jammed it together and gave the numbers a whirl and went into church.
The doors to the church were open. I had a feeling that I had not locked my bike properly. Everytime I heard a noise, I assumed someone had stolen my bike and sweet white basket. Maybe the homeless man. I scolded myself for being so anxious and judgmental. I prayed and became immersed in the service.
After Mass, I walked out, heart thudding. I looked outside and there was my ride. All safe and sound! I felt silly. I went to unlock it. The homeless man was still sleeping. I put in my combination. And nothing! It would not unlock! I tried several times. I had a horrible feeling. When I forced it earlier, I think I messed it up. Maybe deprogrammed the code.
I must have looked panic stricken. An older couple in their car, came over and asked if I was ok. I explained to them what happened. They tried to help to no avail. They suggested I go in and ask "Bob" (not his real name). Apparently Bob was quite the handyman!
I ran in and found Bob. I told him what happened and asked if he had any bolt cutters with him. He said no, but he would come out and look at it. We all looked at it, tried the combination several times. No luck. It was one of those really strong cables with a combination lock built in. And it was not going anywhere. My heart was thudding sickly.
I was supposed to meet my mom for breakfast in 30 minutes. She would be worried. What was I going to do?
Where would I get bolt cutters? I certainly could not afford them at the store. Then I saw a Jiffy Lube up the street. I told my Catholic friends that I was going to go ask the folks at Jiffy Lube if they had any bolt cutters. I ran up the block and explained my situation. I expected them to be suspicious or turn me away. I explained what had happened. I also threw in there that I was a Jiffy Lube customer. Well, I had been in the past! They were very kind. One of the young men went downstairs to see what kind of tools they had. The other attendant, a young lady kindly talked with me and said they would help, not to worry.
The young man emerged shortly after.
"No bolt cutters", he said. "But we have a hacksaw!"
"I will give it a try!" I exclaimed, thanking them and running back to church.
Soon, we had Bob with the hacksaw, and the an older woman and myself assisting, holding the cable taut. It was slow going. A couple times I worried Bob would lose a finger! He did not seemed concerned, but he was working up a sweat.
Then suddenly I noticed someone approach out of the corner of my eye.
It was the homeless man. He peered at us curiously with one eye. He had a patch over the other. His fingernails were long and yellow.
"That hacksaw is awful dull", he remarked. "Might take you all day."
But then he and Bob started to work together. Sawing, twisting the cable, trying different angles. Discussing their methods.
They were both sweating by now. Cars were driving by slowly, peering at us, curiously.
"People are probably wondering what the Catholics are up to", I told the lady.
Just then we heard a snap. We jumped. Bob and homeless man were smiling. Holding up two ends of the cable.
"There ya go!" said Bob.
I hugged them all and thanked them.
Then I hopped on my bike and headed to breakfast with my mom. And in search of a new bike lock. Maybe I should pack a hacksaw next time just in case?
A very intense experience this was! But then again, if this had not happened I would not have this story to tell.
I am painfully aware of the lesson I learned. Yet again.
"Thank you, God", I whispered. I wiped a tear from my eye.
There are still so many kind people in this world. And so many of them are hidden beneath the veil of my own prejudice.
"Judge not, that ye be not judged.
"For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."