On my way to deer camp for opening day this year I had to make a last minute stop to pick up a few groceries. It was late Friday afternoon on November 7th. I walked into the Target store that was on the way and the first thing I see is a giant sign hanging from the celling that read “Happy Holidays”. The sign was decorated with a snowman on one side and a Christmas tree on the other. I literally stopped in my tracks and stood there a moment looking at the sign thinking “you’ve got to be fucking kidding me”. Can’t we at least wait until after Thanksgiving before we get bombarded with all of the Christmas vomit? Not a chance. I wanted to walk out of the store and go someplace else but I was pressed for time so I did my shopping there. As I was leaving the store with my cans of Dinty Moore stew and chicken noodle soup I looked at the sign one more time and I noticed a guy doing the exact thing I did when I walked in. Now I get to look forward to the “Buy our crap” commercials as well as the commercials that try to guilt you into caring about complete strangers. I’m a jolly fucking elf.
After a weekend of uneventful hunting I get back to the Cities and pop open Facebook to see what people are outraged about now. A post from a friend of mine, BRose, caught my attention : “You think Salvation Army is bigoted? Do you do as much good as they do? I could introduce you to 180 people that slept indoors last night because of Salvation Army and bell ringers. And they do a lot more than that for a lot more people, but you want to boycott them because you don't like there politics? Guess what, it isn't about you.". Brian usually has some pretty good commentary on current events and for the most part I usually agree with him. This post stuck with me and I kept thinking about it and I kept going back to it.
Brian paying us a visit in Vegas.
Now, fast forward to the present day and that Facebook post. I started to think more on the “Do you do as much good as they do?” part. I used to do some good but it’s been awhile now. My wife and I had volunteered at a local food kitchen for a couple of years before we got married and we enjoyed it. It felt good to help people that really needed it. Then we got busy. We got busy planning a wedding then we got busy buying a house and once you own a house you’re always busy. We haven’t volunteered for a really long time now. Neither one of us has a lot of free time any more and I know that’s not a very good excuse.
I want to help so what can I do? Well, if you’re anything like me you’ve probably got a pretty extensive spare bike parts section of the basement or garage cordoned off. Parts that I’ve been saving for one reason or another because they might come in handy someday. I don’t think I need to hang on to almost 40 spare tires or an entire drawer of rear derailleurs. I’ve got bike parts that are still in the boxes that I didn’t even know that I had. Sure, I could sell a lot of that on eBay or Craigslist and get a pile of money so I can buy more bike parts. Or I could gather all of that stuff up and take it to the local nonprofit bike shop and help some people stay on their bikes. I think that you should do that too. I’m not asking you to donate your 1973 Shimano Dura-Ace group that you’ve been saving for that perfect frameset. What I’m talking about are the parts that you’ve taken off of new bikes because you’ve gotten upgrades. I’ve got a pile of tires that came on new bikes over the years that have never seen the road or trails. How many of you have used the saddle that your bike came with for any length of time? Handle bars, grips, seatposts, and spare cables. I’d be willing to bet that I’ve got over 20 26x1.9-2.5” tubes and I haven’t even owned a 26” wheeled bike for years. Just take a little time, go through your spare bike parts and donate the stuff you can’t live without so someone else can get some good use out of them.
This is what I can do right now. This is how I’m starting to help people out again that are not as fortunate as me. I know this is not a lot but it’s better than doing nothing at all. With any luck this could help someone get to work or school and have a positive effect on their life. My hope is that this will lead to more opportunities for me to make someone’s day a little better.
Or I could just throw my spare change into one of those red kettles next to those annoying people that ring those annoying bells outside those annoying stores that I go to.
Keep the rubber side down,