The Exercise Bike
by Steve Slavin
Remember the mild-mannered reporter rushing into a telephone booth, and emerging seconds later as Superman? Well, no one ever mistook me for Superman, but my friends often remark upon my strong resemblance to Clark Kent.
Do I have secret powers? Can I instantaneously transform myself into a caped crusader?
Get real! And with all the phone booths gone, I don’t even have a place to change outfits.
My nephew and niece bought me an exercise bike for my birthday. They got it at Sears. After two or three years of pretty heavy use, one of the pedals began hitting the chain guard. I realized that its connecting rod was seriously bent. Luckily, there was a Sears repair facility just a few miles from me. The guy on the phone explained that when I brought the bike in, I would need to leave a twenty-five-dollar deposit, and that the repair might cost another twenty or thirty dollars.
When I put the bike in my car, I had to leave the trunk open, and drive very carefully. I brought the bike into the shop, paid the deposit, and spoke briefly with the guy who would be doing the repair. He immediately saw what the problem was, and said that it could be fixed. And yes, I would definitely need a new rod.
A week later, I got a call from Sears: the bike was ready. So, I drove over there, and in a few minutes, the repair guy brought out my bike. It was obvious that he had not replaced the rod. In fact, he may not have done anything.
I asked him what he had done to fix the problem. He claimed he had installed a new rod. So, I got on the bike and showed him how the pedal still hit the chain guard. “Go ahead,” I said. “Try it yourself.”
“Look, I brought this in to be fixed. Are you going to fix it or not?”
“What are yuh deaf or somethin’? The bike is fixed!”
I could feel my face turning red. My hands balled into fists. I was quickly losing control. If he said one more word, I didn’t know what I would do.
He saw how angry I was getting, and suddenly he rushed through the door to the repair area and yanked it shut behind him. I tried to open it, but it was locked. I pounded and yelled, but no one would open the door.
I carried the bike back into the waiting room. There was a guy standing behind a thick glass counter. I started to tell him what had happened, but he cut me off. He wanted me to pay the balance that was owed for the “repair.”
“Look,” I said, “This bike hasn’t been repaired!”
“That’s not my problem, buddy. You have to pay!”
“Listen to me, you fuckin’ son of a bitch!” I screamed.
“You can’t talk that way in here! There are ladies present!”
Something snapped in me. I was losing control. I picked the bike up over my head and approached the counter.
“You are a sexist pig!” I yelled. But you’re too stupid to know why!”
He was clearly puzzled.
“OK, here’s the deal: If you say one more word, do you know what I’m going to do? You may nod.”
He glanced up at the bike and quickly nodded.
“Good! Now I’m going to walk out of here with the bike. Do not speak. Got that?”
I carried the bike out of the shop and put it into the trunk. I drove off very slowly, glancing in my rearview mirror for police cars.
But where was I going? I couldn’t just bring the bike back home. Oh, I know! There was a Salvation Army Thrift Shop just a few blocks from where I lived.
By the time I got there, I had calmed down considerably. But still, any little thing might set me off again.
I carried the bike inside and placed it on the floor right in front of the counter. Just as I was about to ask the guy where I should put it, the floor began to vibrate. I looked over my shoulder just as an extremely heavy woman rushed by me. She was wearing a sleeveless blouse, and her jiggly arms were the size of my thighs.
She jumped on the bike and began pedaling furiously. And would you believe, she was actually wearing a pair of very tight pedal pushers?
I heard the pedal clanking against the chain guard. But she ignored the sound and just kept pedaling. Then, she slowed her pace, and looked at the man behind the counter. In a matter-of-fact voice, she asked: “How much?”
* * * * THE END * * * *
Copyright Steve Slavin 2017