When I lived in upstate New York, my favourite thing to do on the weekends was to cycle the 35 mi to my friend’s farm and throw hay bales all day. His hay business completely relies on ancient (and faulty) equipment. His youngest tractor was made in 1963 (that’s 54 years old), and the oldest is a 1936 John Deere B* with no electrical components (you have to start it with a fly wheel). Naturally, all of these tractors are constantly breaking down in the middle of the field. When a tractor breaks down, he throws his hat on the ground, shouts a few curse words, stalks around the tractor, pulls out a pocket crescent wrench, and starts the thing right up again. It’s very impressive to watch.
One day, as I was riding out, he called to tell me one of the tractors** had sprung a leak in the radiator, and asked if I could pick up some radiator stop leak on the way. Because he lives way out in the country, there was only one gas station on the way, and it was a tiny little country store that sold a small selection of groceries in addition to the standard gas station fare.
After cycling about thirty miles, I reached this store. Seeing there was nowhere to lock up my bike outside (why don’t gas stations have places to lock up bikes???), I took it in with me. The moment I walked in the door, everyone’s eyes turned to me.
I was sweaty, red-faced, and dirty from the road in my cycling equipment. I was also still wearing a helmet. All that, plus the obvious clue of my bicycle, surely tipped them off to the fact that I had not driven a car there. Yet the first words out of my mouth, directed at the woman behind the counter, were, “Do you have any radiator stop leak?”
She stared at me, open-mouthed, for a moment before saying no. I shrugged and left the way I came in, clipless shoes click-clacking on the cement.
*Currently on loan to a museum…that’s how old it is, haha
**Probably the tractor we call Fort (well he calls it Fort, I call it Fart)…it’s an 1957 Allis Chalmers D-14 that causes endless amounts of trouble and spills out poisonous black smoke that makes you cough. He’ll never get rid of the darn thing, though, because it belonged to his father.