It is a cool summer day. The anticipated thunderstorm is rolling in, but the sky is only overcast. A few rays of sunlight peek out from the clouds, reminding us that the storm might just pass us over for another town.
I am inside studying for the LSAT. It is summer vacation, and I would rather be hiking in the mountains or taking a stroll along the mall. Nonetheless, I must meet my daily quota if I want to get into law school. At least I can take comfort knowing that my brother is studying as well.
I am in the middle of a frustrating logic game. I have misread some of the clues, so my diagram is wrong. From outside recesses of my own mind, I hear my brother open the door to the garage. Unknowingly I glance at him to acknowledge his presence. He is wearing his biking suit.
“I’m heading out for a quick ride. Gonna go to the local bike shop to pick up that spare part. A friend helped me locate it.”
I hadn’t ridden a bike since elementary school, but my brother convinced me to take up biking again. Whenever we ride, he lends me his bike while he rides our father’s old Italian racing bike. At first I literally could not keep my balance on the bike, especially since his bike is a tad too tall for me, but I eventually got the hang of it.
Like him, I am now an avid cyclist. We ride almost everywhere together. Whilst cleaning the garage to make space for our accumulating biking gear, we had found our mother’s old bike. It is the exact same model as our father’s but shorter in stature. The bike, red in color, is quite a sight to behold. It looks untouched, as though it has never been ridden. Unfortunately, years in storage next to old pieces of furniture and various boxes of tools have bent the break pads out of alignment. In an attempt to realign the brakes, my brother accidentally snapped a part connecting the brakes to the bike frame, so there was now no way I could ride the bike. We tried looking for the part in local superstores, but unfortunately no one sells it. The bike is an antique. But now, lucky for us, my brother has found a local bike shop carrying the part!
It has been days since our last bike ride. With no desire to continue my studies, I offer to ride with him. I quickly change into my gear and grab a bag. It is a nuisance to ride with a bag, but bring it along anyways. I fill it with my phone, identification, and some cash–better safe than sorry.
Outside, the sky has darkened. It is going to rain any minute now. But until then, this weather will be perfect for a bike ride. We quickly begin our journey to beat the rain. The ride is just what I need to clear my mind. With each peddle, I feel all my frustration fade into the dust. I am so captivated by the simple act of peddling that I almost miss the turn into the shop.
“Don’t worry about locking up the bikes,” says my brother as I park my bike next to his. “This should only take a minute. But if it starts to rain, you can lock ’em up and come inside.” I consider staying outside, but the rumbling clouds make me think twice. I lock up the bikes and head inside.
The store is quaint. It must have started out as a ma-and-pa shop before growing into the business it is now. I spot my brother towards the back of the shop and head towards him. A man a little too old to be his friend hands my brother the part. “That’ll be thirteen-fifty. Just bring this slip of paper up to the front and we’ll ring ya up.”
My brother turns around and almost bumps into me. “You came inside.”
“Yeah. How much is it?”
“Thirteen-fifty.” He rolls the part around in his hand. The part is barely comparable to the size of his pinky finger. “I figured that since it’s such a small part, they would just give it to me for free.”
A vacuum of silence passes between us as we stare at the overpriced piece of metal. Finally, he breaks the silence. “Do you have thirteen-fifty on you?” From the look in his eyes and the hunch of his shoulders, I can tell that his ego is shot.
“Yeah. I can get it.” I quickly pay for the part, and we walk out of the store in silence.
We barely speak on the ride back. It has begun to drizzle, so we pick up the pace to out-ride the storm. I want to say ‘you owe me,’ but the comment seems inappropriate.
Finally, we arrive home. It is officially raining. We swiftly put away our gear and jog to the house. Inside, I can no longer keep my frustration to myself.
“You owe me thirteen bucks.” I immediately wish I could take the comment back. In all fairness, the part is for a bike that I’m going to ride. Furthermore, since I am not mechanically inclined, he would be the one to fix it. On the other hand, the part did cost thirteen bucks. I’m still a student. I’d have to work an entire hour at my side job to pay for this part. Nonetheless, I still feel guilty. I should have waited to see if he would pay me back on his own accord. And even if he didn’t, I could just consider the money as an emotional investment in our relationship. Who knows? Maybe I might need a favor from him in the future.
Outside, the rain has stopped. My brother heads outside to fix the bike. On his way out, he silently slaps the thirteen dollars on the table. I can’t tell if he is angry with me. He is not one to verbalize his emotions unless he is telling you off. I consider going outside to return the money, but instead I go back to my desk to continue my studies.
Half focused on the questions, a brilliant solution dawns on me. We could split the cost! Since he’s fixing the bike, I could give him seven bucks and just keep six for myself. In the joy of my epiphany, I consider bringing the money out to him, but decide against it. Maybe he needs some time to cool off. Instead, I grab a sticky note and wrap it around the money.
Thanks for fixing the bike! I write, followed by a very toothy smiley face.