I have a love-hate relationship with inanimate objects. I appreciate them for their utility, but I genuinely have no patience for their insubordination. Take, for example, bungee cords. By far the most mischievous object in existence, the only thing you can be sure to hook with them is your pant leg. The second-most misbehaving inanimate object, in case you’re wondering, are those pieces of debris that specialize in sticking to windshield wipers precisely at eye level.
Cycling is the most beautiful sport in the world, and the bicycle itself the most elegant and sophisticated piece of equipment in history. Yet, I have rarely descended into such a fit of rage as by a malfunctioning drive train. On good days, the inconvenience distracts me from what would otherwise be a day of near-perfect grace. On bad days, it drags my morale from the toilet into the septic system.
The descent into madness caused by a mysterious mechanical problem involves several steps. Observe:
- Calmly come to a stop at the roadside, being careful to ooze a Casually Deliberate nature. Inspect the machine for cause. Make an adjustment which is likely to exacerbate the problem.
- Repeat (1) until problem has become severe or elusive enough to have exhausted your ability to exhibit a calm demeanor.
- Accuse the bicycle of being born out of wedlock. If no improvement is observed in the operation of the machine, threaten it with dismemberment, death, or recycling. Dismount and stare at it sternly. Attempt to startle bicycle into submission by slamming the wheels on the tarmac. Remount.
- If problem persists, hurl bicycle into bushes. Immediately regret the decision, replace rage with overwhelming panic, and check to make sure they were soft bushes.
- Repent, buy your her some flowers, and apologize. Get her home to the workshop for a nice bath and an overhaul.
The obvious challenge here is the circumvention of Rule #65, so we should not make a habit of this. But sometimes the stubbornness of an insubordinate inanimate object is simply too dumbfounding to offer us any viable alternative.