World’s Nicest Man

It’s Friday. Time to head home from work. It’s the weekend!

But what’s this now? The left pedal arm on the bike is loose. Dammit! Gotta pull over to the side. No tools. I manage to secure it somewhat with two regular keys. One fits my mom’s house. The other fits my office.

Onward. Onward, for crying out loud.

The pedal arm works itself loose again. Same procedure. I try to secure it somewhat with two keys. This time, I try wiggling the pedal arm with a key I’m not quite sure why I have, but for some reason, it lives on my keychain and accelerates the process of fading the color from my jeans, because the keys bulge way too much in my pocket. A well-known issue for key-bearing men. A kindred spirit is the ass-shaped dad wallet.

Inevitable realization: It’ll be a long time before I can devour the half-filled pastry that was allowed to spend the night in the fridge because damn, my favorite pastries have whipped cream. They damn well do, and I had to surrender to that yesterday. But damn, such a pastry tastes good the day after when you remember its existence. And you almost forget that it also tastes a bit like the refrigerator and defeat, and that I’ve already eaten loads of candy for today’s reception at work.

Well, I have to get home to that pastry. And I’ll probably survive having to stop the bike and tighten the pedal arm every three hundred yards.

And then the pedal arm bloody falls off.

Great, isn’t it?

No, it’s not great! For heaven’s sake.

I find the parts. Pull over to the side. Overtaken by the World’s Nicest Man.

The World’s Nicest Man keeps going. Then he remembers that he’s the World’s Nicest Man.

He pulls over. Turns around.

“How far are you going?” he asks.

“Into town.” I sigh, thinking about the pastry, hoping my girlfriend hasn’t eaten it. “But it’ll be fine.”

“It’s just because I don’t live far away. And that’s annoying – especially on a Friday. I have tools at home.”

The World’s Nicest Man lives just around the corner.

The World’s Nicest Man also has a little boy in the child seat.

“HELLO,” says the little boy.

“Hello,” I say. Consider the situation. “Okay. It would actually be really nice to properly tighten that.”

At the World’s Nicest Man’s home, I get my hands on the right tool. An Allen wrench. A big one of its kind. The World’s Nicest Man goes inside to help the kid out of his outerwear.

And then it’s time to bloody well tighten it. Man, it’s going smoothly. With thoughts of the half-filled, slightly flat, but wonderfully rich pastry, it’s faster than changing Formula 1 tires.

A few seconds later, I hand the Allen wrench back. “Thanks,” I say and give the World’s Nicest Man a serious look that truly emphasizes what he’s done. I don’t mention the pastry though. “And have a great weekend. You’ve saved my Friday. Thank you so much.”

I pull the bike through the pathway. Civilized. I feel really lucky. He was damn nice, that guy. And damn, Sam, you did well. That lousy pedal arm won’t move anytime soon now. I close a little garden gate behind me.

Onto the bike path. NOW I’m damn well going home to eat that pastry!

The pedals behave a little strangely. Actually, it’s completely wrong – or maybe I’m just too fixated on the pastry to remember how to ride a bike.

Two choices: Back to the World’s Nicest Man and the HELLO-boy. Or hurry away before it gets too embarrassing.

You can’t really do the first, can you? There’s just something fundamentally wrong in thanking a random person for saving your Friday and then going back and asking him to save it all over again. That’s the past. That… was back then.

Onward. In a rather awkward manner. A bit of using the bike as a scooter. A bit of using my instep to push the pedal around. It’s slow, but I manage to escape. The tale of the World’s Nicest Man who saved my day is preserved for posterity. That means something too. Playing to the gallery.

On the bridge, I analyze the problem. OK. There IS something seriously wrong. Pedal arms shouldn’t be at a 90-degree angle to each other. And now they’re screwed on so tight, pastry-like, that they can’t even be loosened anymore. Suddenly, I miss the 300-meter-pause method, which was driving me crazy.

Funny, isn’t it? Now it feels like a dream to be able to pull out my keys and ponder what they fit, and why I let them ruin my jeans. And of course, to try to use them as improvised Allen wrenches.

The pastry slides further and further away.

Awkwardly roll home, pull a bit, think about the World’s Nicest Man. Think about how stupid you become with that much whipped cream. Notice people’s glances when they discover the instep method and the improperly adjusted pedal arms. There are certainly a lot of cycling enthusiasts out today. They know what a bike is. They know something is seriously wrong. I feel like explaining to them about the pastries at home.

“There’s way too much whipped cream in them!” I shout after a young guy who smiles wryly.

Or… I don’t actually do that. And it would be a lie too. Because when I get home, I quickly agree with myself that you can’t possibly put too much whipped cream in a pastry.

In fact, there’s often too little.

I’m already considering whether I should walk down and buy another one.

Walk, that is.

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