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The Cycle Repair Shop

The Cycle Repair Shop is one of the memorable experiences of my life. It was a lazy Sunday evening. With the distant country number ‘Remember When’ playing, my pretty wife was sipping on the great masala chai that was world-famous in our house. Courtesy me!

My son and daughter were playing with the remote controlled black Maserrati. This play was infested with the usual periodical brother-sister fistfights, deciding who should hold the remote and who should chase the car. As responsible parents, we chose to concentrate on the deep voice of Alan Jackson instead.

After around the fifteenth sip of the piping hot beverage, my wife looked up and suggested that I should get my son’s BSA Hercules Smiley cycle repaired as the chain had given way. Alas, this was the last thing a husband would want on a lazy Sunday! I tried making a puppy’s face, but she seemed to be unmoved and chose to look through the expression. I decided to do what was in my best interest. Get it repaired!

In the next five minutes, my son, daughter, the cycle and I were ushered out of the apartment! We all made our way down to the swanky black sedan. With the touch of a button, the boots rose up elegantly. I quickly loaded the cycle, and we set sail, leaving behind a trail of dust. The rearview mirror displayed a group of elderly people who were coughing due to the dust.

One glance at my Tissot helped me decide that I should finish the job in half an hour, so I get the rest of the Sunday evening back to myself and the country numbers. The first hurdle was finding a cycle repairer. The next fifteen minutes witnessed me desperately asking passersby for directions to the closest repairer, each one having a glorious sense of direction. Finally, one good Samaritan asked me to look at my right only to point out that I was right in front of one.

After a round of cajoling the kids and half a kilo of junk, the kids were finally convinced that they would stay in the car. I safely ensured that all the child security measures were in place and then rushed to the shop with the bicycle.

I was greeted with a disgruntled look from the repairer. For a split second, I felt I was disturbing him, but then continued to explain the problem, in my training demeanor, giving very specific details of the problem. Whilst I had still only finished explaining twenty percent of the problem, the unkept and untidy repairer called out to his assistant, a bright young little man all of about six years of age. I was amazed at the way in which, in three crisp sentences, the guy instructed the nimble fellow. To my further amazement, the boy understood without any questions being asked.

He then turned to me and smiled in one of the most charming smiles ever as his owner got back to work on a cycle that seemed irreparable. 

My new comrade, who was here to solve one of my problems in life, was as dirty and unkept as his owner was but had the charm of a Playboy. I sat down to match his height as he explained to me what he would need to do to resolve the issue. I just smiled and agreed to all that he said. I never thought a six – year old would make sense to a thirty – something man. Let alone making sense, I was actually enjoying the confidence displayed by the boy as he continued to give me tips on how I could maintain the cycle better.

I turned to glance at my kids in the car, all protected, secure and having a stomach that never experienced hunger as the next meal was already on the table all the time. I wondered if our young man, who was now busy greasing the repaired chain as a finishing touch, ever washed his hands with a Dettol hand wash, or sanitized them before sitting down for a meager meal. I wondered if he ever had a cycle of his own to know so much about the maintenance of a cycle. Would he know what a remote control car, or an Xbox or anything that was tech-savvy?

As he handed over the shiny cycle back to me after a quick wipe, I silently paid the dues as summarized by the disgruntled owner. In normal times, I would have bargained and lashed out, accusing him of daylight robbery, but I did not.

I rushed and got my kids out of the secured interior of the car with the goodies that I had got them. I then introduced my little new friend to my kids and asked them to share the chocolates and the chips with the boy. Something told me that the owner would smile if we shared it with him as well. Sure enough, as my son confidently raised up the packets to share, I saw a very kind smile behind the disgruntled look.

As we waved goodbye to an equally happy duo, I couldn’t help but think of how much better a place this world would be if each did his part of doing one good deed a day. It’s not about money again, but could be as simple as bringing a smile to someone’s face.

You never know when the last time the person may have smiled was!

– Loyson Paes