A Brush with Divine Intervention

This may be the silliest post yet.  Maybe not…

The title, of course, is a reference to two posts ago, a little story about cracking out of my little world of “shoulds” into the much bigger universe of “is.”  This time, if I have it right, it’s about leaving the world of “coincidence” in favor of the cosmos of “OmyGod!”

The picture below is of a fully inflated bicycle tube hanging in a closet.  IMG_1599And here’s the chain of events which led to my spending  time and effort to create the basically mundane image now at the left.  It all began Monday morning.  The time was about 8:45, the temperature was already in the upper 80’s with nowhere to go but up, and I, filled with rationalizations and good intentions was about to mount my bike and ride four laps (25 miles) in Central Park before riding the 8 miles to work.  Remember, boyhood has long passed me by–or I it–and my heart has a history of attacking me.

Just as I am about to  pass through the apartment door on my rush to ego gratification, I notice my back tire’s flat.  On closer inspection I also note that several sections of the tire have worn so thin that the kevlar belt under the rubber’s surface has actually replaced the rubber.  Clearly it is time for a patch and a new tire.

I set to work.  Patching tubes is something I’ve had a great deal of experience with lately.  One block from visiting friends Annie and Mahanta at the beach at Rockaway Park I flatted on my commuter bike.  It was the first time in maybe four years that such a thing has happened to my city bike tires, those warriors of urban trash and treachery, those conquerors of both The Bronx and Brooklyn.  Then there was the ultimately polite delight ride with newly met friend Marilyn on the Hudson River Greenway and the flat she somehow brought with her from home.  Our only spare tube (mine) was two inches less in diameter than her tire and wheel.  Still, with patience and perseverance it was done.

This time, in the comfort of my own home, a most curious phenomenon: I was unable to spot the leak in the tube. I inflated it and moved my hand slowly along it’s surface…nothing.  I ran it along my ever-so-tender cheek, past my keen hearing ear.  No blow.  No hiss.  I filled the sink with water and immersed the tube.  No telltale bubbles.  Especially close attention to the valve and the one patch from a previous flat yielded the same nothingness.  Out of curiosity and, I suspect, some disbelief, I hung the inflated tube as you see it depicted, fully expecting to find it flat upon returning from work late that evening.

Focusing back on the bike: I just happened to have in that selfsame closet both a new tube and a new tire, perhaps the stiffest tire ever made.  With great and prolonged effort I managed first to wrangle the tube into the tire and then the pair of them almost onto the bike’s back wheel.  “Almost,” here, is the operative word.  For what felt like the better part of a decade I struggled to mount them to the wheel without success.  Then I remembered: back in my day we’d first put the tire half on the wheel, then insert the tube, then bring the other side of the tire into place.  I tried it and, yes, old fashioned worked.

OK and I’m ready to ride.  A quick look at the clock and it becomes immediately and incontrovertibly clear that there is no way either here or in hell that I’ll have time to ride my four go-rounds in the park, come home, shower, dress and ride to work.  O well, perhaps changing the tire and tube were exercise enough.  Out of my nifty bike rider suit and into my commuter stuff and off I go.  A quick stop at the library to return four CD’s (Brubeck’s Take Five, the Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo, The Million Dollar Quartet’s Million Dollar Quartet and Clifton Chenier Live Somewhere in 1981) and then onto the bike path along the Hudson to head for The Bronx and the job.

By now the temperature’s pretty close to ninety  and probably the humidity as well.  Despite the 10 or so miles per hour breeze created by my  riding I find myself utterly wet with sweat.  The air is  just short of being a beverage rather than a gas.  Struggling along on perfectly flat pavement, I  hear it:

“OmyGod!,” that interior voice much smarter than my own blurts out.  “If you’d gone to the park to ride laps, you’d probably be dead by now.”

“OmyGod,” I agree.  “I agree!”

Slowing down to the speed of a respectable senior fastwalker and drinking much water, stopping periodically to rest, I make my way uphill from sea level along the Hudson over the spine of Washington Heights to the Highbridge section of The Bronx and the job.  Now, I’ve already got some interpretive ideas regarding what I’ve been describing here, the kind of fuzzy spiritual things you’ve come to expect of me, but I just leave those out when telling co-worker Martha about the morning’s events.  She knows of my heart history and doesn’t mince words.

“Hmmfff,” she sort of snorts.  “Divine intervention,” and walks away.

Divine intervention…nice idea…but no.  The tire was flat.  It is flat, I think to myself.  When I get home tonight it will be limp as an old man’s (sigh) step.

All day long, through client interviews (I work with men and women in treatment for addictions to drugs, alcohol, street life, pain and money) and group facilitations, I can’t stop thinking about that damned tube.  At 8:45 pm, 12 hours exactly after all this began, I phoned home and asked Bobbie, now my wife of 11 years, to walk the phone to the closet and describe the tube to me.

Yes, it was still firm with air!  No it hadn’t again flattened.

When I got home an hour later it was still firm.  I took it down, forced the air out and rolled it up.  The next day (today) I decided to write up this bit of mystery and re-inflated the tube to photograph, then deflated and rerolled it, realized the picture wouldn’t orient properly, unrolled the tube and rephotographed it.  Each time it held air with no leakage.  Each time I heard Martha’s observation.

I think she’s onto something…I don’t know…Do you?


Here’s Martha (with Edgar)

Published in: on August 21, 2009 at 12:28 pm  Comments (1)  
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