“Hold on,” the bike girl says. “Your rear tire needs air. Better do it now or else it will pop either today or tomorrow.”
Everyone in line looks at you. You redden a bit, embarrassed at your inability to fill the air. But you take your bike. Your mind is swirling. The event is starting soon, and you took the early train so that you could arrive at 5:26 pm. Time is ticking. You paralyzed by indecision so you just pull to the side and mindlessly put the bag on the rack. You rode home before with not much air anyway.
“Don’t do that!” she calls. “Just do it without the bag.”
You redden again and grit your teeth. Silent, you drag your bike over and pull your bag across the floor. You untwist the cap and use the stand pump. You remember the time that you tore your tube because you couldn’t pump correctly. You remember the last few times when you pumped and it took 30 minutes. But right now, you can feel the girl’s judgement criss cross your body and chain your hands to the pump. One two three. Is the air even going in? Is your tire going to deflate? You know that you should be doing this. You’re pissed, but you don’t know why. Is it because now you have to do the work and the girl won’t do it for you. And you’re annoyed, because you’re late. You’re irritated, because everyone stared at you and think that you should know better. And the girl already lectured you a few weeks ago about the helmet being in the wrong place and not having enough air. How much will you have to pump? And will you need to come back anyway?
“Do you work at UPS?” a guy suddenly asks you.
You turn around, and you know that the answer is supposed to be a resounding no. But all your generosity is gone from you, lost through the fingertips, squashed by the negativity that you just created. “Am I supposed to be?” you say. “I like UPS…”
“No I mean,” he says. “Do you work at UPS?”
“I don’t understand the question,” you say, suddenly wanting to start a fight. “I would like to work at UPS.”
The girl looks at you and says, “She doesn’t work at UPS.”
You want to say, “How would you know?”
But instead, you’re quiet and you pump. Because nothing good would come out the conversation. The guy is complaining about UPS and he finally begins to leave. So you say as he walks out, “I won’t tell the UPS what you said.”
He laughs. You finished pumping. It’s at a lovely 120 psi. And it’s not broken. You walk out without a word.