For professional advice, I relied on Taylor, who worked at South Mountain Cycles, a bike and espresso shop in the central triangle of our small town... Taylor was wild-haired and supernaturally lean, and festooned his face with goatees, handlebar moustaches, ironic mutton-chops, and other expressions of his mood. He was somewhere between eighteen and forty, had probably looked that age his whole life, and would continue on ageless, appearing ever in his prime until some magic day late in his life when he'd instantly transform into one of those ancient, crumpled mechanics who sit at the workstands in bike shops like gurus on mountaintops... He was, at least outwardly, enthusiastically living a life focused on a calling that, like a teacher or social worker or nursing-home caregiver, was important but doomed by market forces to a wage most Americans would find untenable, if not unlivable... He was a wrench—the purest expression of the bike mechanic.I was reminded of this beautiful passage yesterday, as I am every time I stop by my first-choice local bike store and this one particular dude is tending the place. I won't mention his name, because I can't be sure he'd be flattered by the comparison. But I have to tell you, the excerpt above is an almost exact description of the fellow. He somehow manages to be surprisingly generous, slightly weird, utterly self-possessed and untouchably cool all at once. He has all the appealing qualities of those young, hip bike-shop employees—without all the annoying condescension and arrogance. I go there almost as much to be around him as I do for the good advice and fair prices.
Ten Points, Bill Strickland
Lucky me, huh?