Keep your wisdom to yourself, old man!


<An account of a real event, but embellished just a little to make it more fun.>

One of my absolute favorite things to do when the weather starts to get better is to take my bicycle on the East Lake Sammamish trail for a fun ride. Today, as I was taking my bike up to the trail, one of the kids in my neighborhood approaches me.



This kid is barely 10 years old, but really clever. Too clever for his age in fact, as you will soon find out.

“Your bike looks dirty.”


I look at my bike. Yes, it’s dirty. I am a little embarrassed. I can’t even remember when I cleaned it last. Must be years.

Soon enough, embarrassment leads to rationalization. Did I tell you that this is a gravel trail? Not one of those smooth paved urban trails that are no fun to ride on. It is dusty, gritty, rough. (And I like it that way, King County, please take note.) If I were to clean my bike, how long would it remain clean? It’s just not worth it.

Right away, rationalization gives way to pride. I actually like the fact that my bike is dirty. It is a trail bike, not one of those sissy road bikes that you take to the local boulangerie to get a baguette. The dirt on the bike makes a statement about myself. I don’t care how things look, as long as they work. Plus, ladies, a man who rides a dirty bike is tough, muscular, brave.

Pride is just a step away from “wisdom”. I am much older than this kid, I know a thing or two about life. Bad looking things aren’t just perfectly fine, but they might actually be much better on the inside, where it really matters. Otherwise they would not have survived this long. In the short term, the market is a voting game. In the long term, it is a weighing game. This is the basis of the whole organic food movement. Authentic living. Simple living, high thinking. There you go little kid. A dose of some real wisdom for you. But of course I won’t tell you that now. You will have to learn it the hard way some day. And so on until, …

“I can wash it for you.”


“For $1, I will wash it for you.”

Bang! It’s like a sharp needle that bursts a big pompous bubble and splatters its contents everywhere. It is not a pretty sight when that happens.

“Oh!” I am still reeling from the effects of having hit the ground hard.

“For $2, I will take a piece of cloth and clean it even better by hand. And for $4, I will oil the chain and the wheels.”

Didn’t I tell you this kid is smart? With him, it’s all just pure business. Plain and simple. No nonsense. Keep your wisdom to yourself, old man.

Needless to say, a couple of hours later, I have a bike that is washed, nicely cleaned by hand with a piece of cloth, and properly oiled. It runs much better now, making it possible for me to spend even more time building even bigger bubbles when I go on a ride.

The kid is also happier. My $5 is now in much better hands.