Escape from El Paso

More stuttering and drama as the ship tries to lurch forward to Houston. Kristie had driven here and was going to leave her car at the airport, then ride with me for a week or so before returning to Los Angeles.

Last night, somewhere between the airport and our luxury accommodations, she lost her key fob. Pandemonium ensued.

We got on our bicycles late at night and began retracing our steps a couple of miles or so back to the airport. It was already cold outside, and riding slowly generated zero warmth. With both of our lightsscanning the street, it’s quite lucky that there was no traffic.

I whistled for the key fob, called it by name, promised it after-dinner snacks and a tummy rub, but it remained hidden. It looked like Saturday was not going to be a day of riding but would be a fun day of getting her car towed to the Toyota dealership and having a new key fob made.

Unlike Los Angeles, where everyone is busy and everything is ridiculously expensive, the nice folks at Poe Toyota towed the car to the dealership for free, and made the key fob for a fraction of what it cost at Torrance of Toyota. However it took all day to get this done. I kept reminding her about what this would have looked like if she had parked somewhere around Van Horn and lost the key fob.

The tow job would have been 100+ miles, the Toyota dealership would have been a continent away, and that would have been the end of the story. One great thing about bike touring is that you quickly realize that things are never as bad as they could be.

I hate cars. Really, I do.

This is also a pretty excellent lesson for life in general. However bad you think it is, it’s generally not really all that bad, and a whole bunch of people have it a whole lot worse.

I ran across a homeless woman who yelled at me, so I started talking to her. She wasn’t having any of it. She was angry and since I was standing there she decided to take it out on me. I got yelled at more by her than I have been yelled at since I was in third grade, and her cursing was a lot more creative.

After she finished yelling at me I asked her if she could use a few bucks. “Of course I can you fucking idiot. I’m fucking homeless.” I handed her 10 bucks, she stared at it, jammed it somewhere deep into her bathrobe and stormed off.

This too made me think. Most of the time when we think we are doing something good or charitable, we hope to be appreciated for it. This is normal and natural and there’s nothing wrong with it. But it’s a problem if you’re doing things in the expectation that you will be rewarded with gratitude or kind words. The nature of sharing is that it should be done with no expectations. None.

If the recipient calls you a fucking idiot, well, in some ways she’s probably right. If the recipient thanks you, well, you probably deserve the thanks. If the person takes what you’re offering and simply walks on, so be it. And of course if the person is offended and rejects your overture, then you should accept the chastisement for what it is.

This is hard to pull off, but I’m getting there.

The best part about getting stuck for another day in El Paso was that we had breakfast again at El Zarape. El Paso is a military town, and El Zaraoe is owned by and is a gathering point for veterans. Everyone wanted to know about the bike ride from Los Angeles.

Although at first a hard right leaning café filled with decorated veterans seemed like a place that was less than conducive to a long-haired cross country cyclist, the opposite proved true. The more I ride through this amazing country, the more convinced I become that people in America are like people everywhere else: they seek peace, community, good health, and communion with friends and family.

Obstacles and differences start to melt when people, face-to-face, start to talk.

END

5 thoughts on “Escape from El Paso”

  1. Just a few things:
    I hate cars, too.
    Bummer about the key fob.
    Most car dealerships are franchises, and a Toyota dealership that’s not as close may have much different services and price structures than one closest to you.
    I think (hope?) people are focused mostly on healing and unifying after this last election.
    When I’ve toured, ideology didn’t matter. People on bikes are vulnerable, and most people driving near you are careful while you’re riding, especially if they’re not in a hurry, drunk, or stoned.

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