I crossed the state line just before noon; the road from Las Cruces to El Paso was flat and slightly downhill with very little wind. Still, the day had been bitingly cold and never got much above the mid 30s for most of the morning. Fortunately, I had a thick pair of wool gloves. They were made in Sweden, knitted triple thick, and able to keep out all of the cold, all of the time.
There was a small convenience store in Canutillo, so I pulled in, laid my gloves on the ledge, went in, and bought some beef jerky, Gatorade, and chocolate milk to go with my stale English muffins and pizza heartburn. Behind the convenience store it was sunny so I sat up against the wall and ate. I took my time.
After about 20 minutes I got ready to go, looked around, and noticed that my gloves were gone. I had left them on the ledge. I hunted around, but they were gone.
Welcome to Texas, where if it isn’t nailed down or protected with a sidearm it isn’t yours.
The day had begun oddly enough with another motel room flat. At first I thought it was a coincidence until I took out the tube and discovered a giant thorn, exactly like the thorns that littered the carpet of the room. It seems that people track in the burrs on their shoes, deposit them on the carpet, and they wind up stuck in my inner tube. I had a fit getting the thorn out because it broke off, leaving much of the business end still in the tire where it would, once inflated and spinning, work its way into the tube. This was of course my last innertube.
I used up my morning ration of curses and got going later than I had planned, at 9:40. As I left I saw a young man limping badly across the parking lot dressed in camo clothing.
You okay? I asked.
Here’s a couple of bucks.
He looked at the bill. Is it counterfeit?
I don’t think so. But I guess you won’t know until you try it.
He smiled. Thanks, I can sure use this.
What happened to your leg?
I was in Lancaster California. I was sleeping under a hotel sign and it was about 2 AM and the sprinkler went off. It scared me so I jumped up and ran out into the street. Next thing I know I woke up in the hospital and I can’t really walk anymore. They said I got run over.
When did that happen?
Two years ago last October. It’s never gonna be the same, obviously.
What’s your name?
Marcus. What’s yours?
Well thanks for the money man. It sure helps.
I thought about him the rest of the way. That’s the kind of thing that happens when you’re homeless, not when you are living under a roof. And as awful as it is to hear a story like that, talking to people like Marcus is a kind of therapy.
You see your own life in a different way, and you see the lives of other people differently as well. It is extremely hard to get angry or upset even at malicious people when you think about how much suffering there is in the world, how little you can do to alleviate it, and what a waste it is of your own short life to be concerned about the bad acts of others rather than focusing on what little you can do to ameliorate the harms that are already here.
In any event, not having gloves was a pretty big deal because you can’t ride a bike in freezing weather without them. I found a Cabela’s, which was way out of the way, went there and got an inferior pair of gloves. I wear size large.
However as I found out, since Trump’s famous tiny hands moment, they no longer make large size gloves that fit me.
The only gloves that fit my hand were marked 2XL. Ha, I thought, of course. No guy is ever again going to buy a pair of gloves marked small. Kind of like asking for size small Jockey underwear.
So they just upsize everything. Small is now large, medium is now XL, large is now 2XL, and XL is gigantic.
What size gloves do you wear?
It’s the new doublespeak.
The rest of the day was urban pedaling over to the Motel 6 near the airport. I don’t know when the last time was you stayed in a Motel 6 but they are top-of-the-line home porn motel rooms now.
There are about a dozen sockets most of which are near the bed, for all of your home video gear, and the rooms have nice pastel colors that make it look like the room cost more than $35. But you know, the only thing I really cared about was whether or not there were thorns on the floor. And there weren’t.
Tomorrow’s low is 27, but I am expecting reinforcements in the form of a 0° rated sleeping bag that will hopefully be up for what promises to be more of what it has already been … cold.
I wonder if there is a reason that birds don’t migrate north for the winter? Before long I hope to have that riddle figured out.