September 9th, 2012 | Uncategorized
At the risk of sounding like a clueless American who was embarrassingly conned, here’s the bike story.
On Friday, having reached a point of near intolerance for the size of this beautiful campus, and the time and energy it takes to walk to the library, let alone the grocery store, I set out to find and purchase some wheels. Nothing fancy. I wanted something simple, something inexpensive, and something that got me from A to B. Shouldn’t be too hard, right? Stephen had driven down to Limerick that morning to check up on us before the start of classes and coaching, and he graciously gave me a ride into Limerick city, where I spent nearly 3 hours walking into every bike shop and sporting goods store I could find, asking for a used bike. Everyone was sold out. Seems like I’m not the only UL student looking for an alternative means of getting around campus.
One of the storeowners informed me of “donedeals.ie” (apparently Ireland’s version of Craigslist). I found a mountain bike listed for only 50 euros (mental alarms should have gone off at this point, but I was desperate). After a test-ride and subsequently deciding that the tires only needed a little air and the brakes a slight adjustment, I made the purchase and returned to campus the proud owner of a black (close inspection of the paint job reveals it used to be purple) mountain bike. I woke up the next morning to find both tires completely deflated and seemingly dry-rotted to the point of uselessness. This devastating realization was followed by a 45-minute walk (visualize me rolling the bike along, pathetically) to a “local” bike shop, where I dropped another 50 euros on new tires and new brakes – turns out the latter were in worse shape than I originally thought.
Since this journey started three weeks ago, I think I’ve averaged a new lesson per day. This most recent 100-euro obstacle has taught me the importance of “going with the flow” – a mindset that often seems to pervade the Irish culture. My Americanized “get it done as quickly as possible” approach was tested and initially yielded stress and frustration. Nevertheless, with the help of some advice from a certain someone back home (for those interested, YouTube David Foster Wallace’s “This is Water” commencement speech), I threw on a smile, and went on with my day.
Classes start tomorrow. As do tryouts for UL’s soccer team. I will be attending lectures from 2-6, racing to the field for tryouts from 6-7, and racing back to catch my night classes from 7-9 (hence my need to purchase a bike). I realize that this schedule leaves very little room for breathing, let alone food and rest. Oh well…I’ll handle those obstacles when then come. Besides, I’ve recently learned to “go with the flow”. Until next time,
P.S. I’m continuously amazed at how polite and friendly the Irish are – from those strangers who point you in the right direction, to those who go out of their way to make your life easier with the smallest of gestures.