August 26, 2007

I've always depended on the kindness of strangers with facial hair.

Yesterday I had a brilliant idea: take my bike to do my grocery shopping. I needed kind of a lot of things, but I had bungee cords and a milkcrate and damn if I wasn't going to make the most of them. Every time I debated picking up another large, heavy item, the milkcrate got a little bigger in my mind and I tossed the questionable item in my basket and walked off with a spring in my step to the next aisle.

This is how I came to be standing outside the store with an enormous armload of bags that weighed probably 50 pounds total. Some clever bungeeing got it all strapped into the milkcrate and lashed onto my bike rack, at which point I tilted the bike to mount it and watched the whole elastic assemblage go boing, over the side of the rack, swaying somewhere in the neighborhood of my rear derailleur and pulling the whole bike crashing to the ground.

No worries. My clever bungeeing kept it all neatly packed in the milkcrate, so I righted the bike, pulled the crate back into its proper location, and rebungeed until it seemed to sit a little more firmly. I swung my leg over the frame, settled myself into the seat, and turned to head out of the parking lot and ride home.


This time I narrowly escaped being pinned under my crate of veggies and cat litter, which would be an embarrassing way to be injured and helpless. I managed to stagger free of the bike as it fell over and evade the pendulous mass of groceries which was determined to explore the full tensility of my bungee cords. At this point I figured I was stuck ignominiously walking my bike home, so I just shoved the crate back on, tightened up the now-hated bungees, and turned to push my ridiculous ride out of the parking lot.

I suspect that by now you can guess precisely what happened. Suffice it to say that thirty seconds later I was sitting on the ground frustrated and increasingly worried, staring at the bike, crate, rack, and bungee cords and trying to come up with a single solution that didn't involve walking my bike home with one hand while carrying my 50-pound crate with the other.

It was at this point that Portland kicked in, in the form of a youngish dude with a wicked set of mutton chops who walked up and asked if I could use a hand. I explained that even my best bungeeing couldn't compensate for the fact that I was balancing a wide and heavy load on a narrow rack on an almost weightless bike, and that I was starting to be kind of screwed. He looked thoughtful, and said that he could maybe carry my stuff on his motorcycle? He didn't have his saddlebags at the moment but, and here I interjected hopefully, maybe my stupid bungees could work?

So in summary, I put my groceries on the back of a stranger's motorcycle, told him where to find my house, and hopped on my bike to follow him home. It's terrifically sketchy in the abstract, but he turned out to be a friendly and above-board dude who delivered my veggies safely home and hung around outside talking to me for a while. We talked California, North Portland, being new to town and getting invited out to drink all the fucking time, and how weirdly paranoid Portland people are about the parts of town that we respectively live in. We failed to really exchange any information that would lead to meeting again, but I figure this small city can only contain a limited number of sideburns like that. I'll keep an eye out.

Then my renting roommate and I went out to a club and wound up tired and annoyed and too drunk to drive home. My attempt to set her up with my co-worker's adorable friend failed miserably, and we had an outstanding pity party in the car listening to Tegan and Sara and waiting for the drinks to wear off. I think I should stick to the grocery store for my social encounters from now on.

Posted by dianna at August 26, 2007 01:33 PM

I was originally tempted to characterize these twin tales as charmingly Portland, but in fact I think that they're charmingly Dianna. Of course your high-quality social encounters take place over an overabundance of foodstuffs; of course they do not take place over an overabundance of booze. The world continues its normal operation.

I am glad that you didn't try to ride home from the club with 50 pounds of cat litter in order to try to make the magic work again.

Posted by: katie at August 26, 2007 08:04 PM