The Job that Wasn’t, Teaser

I’m starting to like this biking thing.

Funny story: the bike I wrote about last time, I sold it. It was too small for me. But I bought another one that fits me much better.

Anyway.

I just got home from an almost magical bike ride. I was out dancing with the Man and some friends downtown and since I have to work in five hours, I had to leave earlier than everyone else, which was why I’d biked downtown in the first place because I knew it would probably be quicker to get home on my bike than to wait for the bus. Plus, I fit in a pit stop for some fried pie at the 12th and Hawthorne late-night food cart pod. It’s a cool night, a reminder that fall isn’t all that far away. The magical part of my ride wasn’t the vegan breakfast fried pie that I scarfed down but the joy of the silence of the ride. Sticking to the bike routes means sticking in residential neighborhoods and avoiding busy commercial streets. It also means that there are very few cars, but lots of other bikes. Except, it’s dark and so what you see aren’t the bikes but their floating headlights and tail lights. Disembodied blinking white and red spots gliding silently through the darkness between street lights.

I knew that I was going to have to leave dancing early because of my early start at work but I was hoping to be in a somewhat better mood by the time I got on the dance floor. See, I got a job offer yesterday from the organization that I really really really really really want to work for. It was a temp position, but I was willing to take a leap of faith that there would be a permanent position at the end of it. However, I found out today when I went into the temp agency to do my paper work that they were expecting me to start on Monday. This despite the fact that I’m already working two jobs and would have to give two weeks’ notice at both of them. True, I don’t HAVE to give two weeks’ notice but I’m not the kind of person to just walk out of a job and it’s probably not the best precedent to set, especially when one is starting somewhere new.

So, I don’t have a new job to write about because they definitely needed to have someone start in the position on Monday. Still, I feel like it was a good sign and that my job hunt is finally moving towards a conclusion.

You’ll have to wait to hear about it though, because I’m down to four hours and fifty-one minutes before I have to be at work and I need to fit some sleep in there somewhere.

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This isn’t the post I was going to write.

Now that we have that out of the way…

I bought a bike.

There is no doubt that I live in the most bike-friendly city in the country, if not North America. Shortly after moving here a year and a half ago, someone asked me when I was planning on buying a bike. I told him that I just wasn’t really a bike person, that I hadn’t owned a bike since high school and that public transit worked just fine for me (especially the expansive and easy to use public transit here). But, I told him, let’s be realistic. Give me a year or two and I’ll probably give in.

In a journal entry from when I first came to Portland on vacation one of the things that I focused on was the number of bikes everywhere. Perhaps what was most striking about it was how utilitarian most of the bikes were. Sure, a lot of them were new and shiny looking but almost all of them had a very utilitarian look to them: trailers, racks, extended frames to carry larger loads, panniers and bags of all shapes and sizes. And they were just…everywhere. Bike racks everywhere. Bike lanes everywhere. Bike racks on the front of every bus. Bike hooks in the MAX trains. Covered bike parking with neighborhood route maps. Secure bike parking at MAX stations. I chalked it up to just one more example of how green and progressive Portland was.

When I moved here, I didn’t seriously think I would last very long without getting a bike despite being a very determined pedestrian and public transit user. And, anywhere I could get with a bike, I could get on public transit. So, my decision to buy a bike wasn’t based on a need exactly. It’s true that waiting for a bus on a weekend sometimes takes longer than it should and that it will take me much less time to go to the grocery store or to the farmers market than it will via bus, but getting a bike wasn’t about time, either. It was deeper than that, more ethereal. I found this video after I decided that it was time for me to buy a bike. One of the women that they interview in the video articulated much better than I was able to why I decided finally to get a bike. Riding a bike in Portland is ‘traveling in the vernacular’. It’s just the way people get around here. We have the highest percentage of bike commuters in the country. And I saw something today about bike jams cropping up around town–imagine! bike jams!

So, I did some shopping around and quickly found a friend who had a bike he never used and sold to me for cheap. I brought it in for a tune-up and another friend donated an old bike bag that he wasn’t using anymore. I picked the bike up from the shop yesterday, installed a rear rack to attach the bag to and plan eventually to get a collapsible basket for the other side to increase my carrying capacity.

It’s been a while since I’ve been a regular bike rider but, oddly enough…it’s just like riding a bike. In fact, I rode to the grocery store yesterday to pick up some pie ingredients and then to the Man’s house for a bbq potluck and to bake the pie (blueberry). It felt good. It was entirely different than taking the bus or walking. It’ll take some getting used to dealing with traffic but I’m sure I’ll get used to it soon enough. One nice thing that I noticed very quickly is that most people will defer to bikers. Obviously, you can’t count on that all the time but I think as long as you stick to the bike routes and lanes, most people get it.

The best part, though, was biking home after the bbq. I’m not sure that I actually saved any time biking home versus taking the bus but it was a much quieter trip. I was biking through quiet tree-lined streets of southeast Portland, the full moon peeking through branches and peering over roofs. There were occasional cars but for the most part it was just me and a few other scattered bikers. Pedal pedal pedal. I was a little out of breath when I got home but it felt very satisfying to carry the bike upstairs and crawl into bed.

The friend from whom I bought this bike had bought it from someone who also wasn’t using it. Hopefully, a year from now, I won’t be selling it to someone else because I’m not using it. If it counts for anything, at least I don’t have a basement where I can stick it away and have it get dusty. My apartment is not huge. There’s really nowhere for it to hide. We’ll see how I feel about riding it in December when it’s 45° and drizzling but even if I’m only a fair-weather biker, it’s better than not being a biker at all.