Identity is something we all construct. It’s what you present to the world outside of your head and despite the fact that I think about this concept a lot (i.e. are one’s perceptions of one’s self what makes one’s identity or are other people’s perceptions of you what makes your identity? Is it a mix of both? I’m hungry. I think I’ll order a pizza for dinner tonight…..) I’ve never really come up with any answers because it’s ultimately something that is out of my control, and ultimately, who gives a shit? Every once in a while something will happen that forces me to think about it. I recently filled out a renewal application for my passport and on the form they ask you what your occupation is. For my entire adult life, up until three years ago, I would write “Bike Mechanic.” Every time someone asks me what I do, that’s what I tell them, even still.
It’s odd because it usually bums me out when you ask someone to tell you about them self and that person leads off by telling you what they do for work. It’s an easy thing to do and I’m not big on small talk so I shouldn’t complain but when I filled out this form last week it made me think how strange it was that even though the words Bike Mechanic always used to be what I would tell people I did for work, it's really a lot deeper than that. Why was I so compelled by this form to again write “Bike Mechanic” when I’m really just some Customer Service Shlub. Anyone that works in the Bike Industry knows that it’s an industry filled with poor people that have a lot of passion for what they do and I refuse to believe that it was simple routine that forced me to lie on my application and tell the Government that I’m a Bike Mechanic instead of a “Customer Service Shlub.” I guess I just hate ascribing an identity to a person based on what they do for work and would rather base that identity on actions as opposed to easy labels.
I never thought of bike mechanicry as being something that people do as a hobby, at least no more than what was required to keep the fleet seaworthy. Now that I’ve transitioned from making a living fixing bicycles for people to being a simple conduit for things going into and coming out of a building, I’ve realized that bike mechanicry really can be a hobby, and this has taught me just how important the bicycle is to me and what a fixture it is in my life beyond recreation and work. The fact that my garage is virtually empty and my apartment is filling to the brim with bicycles is a testament to how important bikes are to me. I guess the surprising thing for me is that I never really realized this. Bikes were always just a way to put food on the table and have fun riding around on. Turns out they’re a lot bigger deal to me than I realized. I just hope they’ve already renewed my passport….