Three Thistles

A post on Offbeat Home got me thinking about going without a car. When I moved up here, I left my fantastic Subaru station wagon back home. I’d only owned the car for seven months, but it was really my favorite car out of my previous four. The versatility of the station wagon turned out to be a real boon. I hauled all sorts of things — glass-top table, someone else’s shelves at value village, loads of branches and log — without ever putting the seat down.

I bought the car because I needed a car of my own for a job, but before that I had gone without a car for two years. This worked out well for me, for a variety of reasons.First, I lived and worked in the boonies, where I used a work vehicle for transportation. Then, I worked a job where mass transit was clearly the better option. I was able to borrow people’s cars (or “car-share”, which sounds less freeloader-esque and more sharing-our-communal-resources-responsible.) Finally, it came to the point where I clearly needed a vehicle that I had control over it’s scheduling. Thus, the subey.

Once I arrived up north here, I had use of a gas-guzzling truck for a while, until my father-in-law fixed up a car for me. Then, the car broke. Did you know that AAA tows in Canada, too? So nice. Then, my bike broke. We live in town, albeit a small town, but I pretty much exclusively bike or walk around town. It’s not far, or hard, to get anywhere, but the bike cut my time way down. It just seems that much harder to get out when it takes three times as long to walk anywhere. Maybe I should get some heelys. Then I can complete the trifecta of brokenness by breaking my legs, too.

That bike, the broken bike, is the titular inspiration for this post. Seventeen years ago, my partner entered a local contest. The objective of the contest was to win said bike, and the method of accomplishing said objective was to collect three thistles. I will pause while you try to understand this. I myself do not.

Okay, enough time? So, my partner entered the contest. I should note, as a classic first-born who likes everything to be fair and who will totally tattle on you, that he did not, himself, collect the thistles. His father did. So, using these questionably-gained thistles, he then won a bike. This seems like a wildly unfair effort-to-reward situation. (Note: After review, my partner would like to point out that the contest was sponsored by a chemical company. He believes the company would be testing the thistles for chemical levels. I tell him this is both highly suspect and still seems like a disproportional work-to-prize contest. He tells me I am weird.)

However, when I entered the picture, many years later, I capitalized on the situation by reclaiming the bike from my now mother-in-law, who no longer rides bikes. This worked out well for everyone, until the bike needed $220 in repairs. The bike shop sells new, comparable bikes for $300. Yesterday, we bought a bike. Technically, it’s an early birthday present for me. Hooray!


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