Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Native Repair #2: Wheels

There's a truism that runs something along the lines that once you've been an ex-pat for over 10 years, you can't go "home." I doubt that He-Whom-I'm-Trailing & I have acculturated here in any way that would make "home" tricky for us but I do occasionally ponder what it is from this China life that  I'll some day miss. Like this situation today...

Having done a heroic job thru twelve years of hard riding & living outdoors, the foot pedal on Little Pink, my trusty bicycle, finally gave out. From anywhere that I've lived in the States - NYC, NC, StL - just finding the local bike guy would be an issue but here, he's just a 5 min ride away, over in what a Chinese Gov't friend of ours designates as a "not-so-well organized" neighborhood, adjacent to our  organized (& infinitely duller) one.

I can be count on finding his little caravan cart of a repair shop parked just past the entrance gate to the "not-so-well organized" wet market. Everything he needs is all there: cart festooned with #type-in-the-wild electrical tape graphics; giant umbrella to protect him from the elements; low wooden stool, whacked together from wood scraps, for work close to the ground; sling-back lounge chair for between customers.

Used to be, first few times he did things for me, he was kind of gruff. But today, he greets me with a big grin of familiarity & quits assembling a brand-new-outa-the-box fluro orange bike to see what it is I need.

Yup, we agree, pedal's broken. Digging around in the cart of all repair wares, uhn, there's a pedal but none to match. Do I care? I do not. Old pedal comes off, new pedal goes on. No getting him to change the other one because it's not broken [yet.] Transaction time: under 10 mins. Cost: 10 Kuai...that's maybe USD1.50. Which tells me that I now have lao pengyou/old friend status as the first time I came, he charged me 2 kuai just to put air in my tires.

I love doing business with the bike repair guy: I love the smallness of scale of the set-up, of the interaction, a scale you hardly find Stateside anymore. I'll definitely miss that.

And, speaking of rides, these rather rarely-seen-but-much-delighted-in strollers...



Click here for earlier adventures with Little Pink...