Hello? Anybody there?
So much has been happening in my life these past few years. God has truly blessed me through my family and Sarah and Tommy to be able to go back to school. More specifically, to be able to spend four years of deep and intense study of our beautiful Lord and what it means to follow him. I hope that I can share some of this blessing with you all. To this end, I think I will start blogging again.
But before I start blogging again, I must fulfill a year and a half old promise. My previous post promised a funny Todd story. So here is a Descriptive Essay from my writing class last semester. It is dedicated to the 2009 Mali EDGE team who leaves for Mali in 3 weeks! Yay! Read carefully because this bike is being stored for your arrival! Enjoy the story, more to come.
Click, clack, kerplunk. My motorbike sputtered dead as was customary when coming to a stop at a red light. As I hopped off of the bicycle-like seat, I looked to my left and right, taking note that I was smack-dab in the center of four motorcycles, two compact sedans, and a minivan. Handlebars and side-view mirrors held hands as we all crammed into three unmarked lanes. The light changed and engines roared leaving me in a cloud of unregulated carbon emissions. I sprinted through the intersection with a firm grip on the handlebars while revving the throttle. As I neared a full sprint, the bike hiccupped back to life, and I dove back onto the seat just before it drove off without me. Dozens of Malians packing the corners of the intersection had watched the whole event. Many erupted with laughter while others chanted “Tubabu! Tubabu!” – which loosely translated means, “Whitey! Whitey!” As I sped away from the scene in utter embarrassment, one thing was clear: my scooter was a dilapidated deathtrap.
I had purchased the motorbike from a missionary whose house-help had previously used it to commute to work through rural village streets. The crater-sized potholes that infested those rock and dirt alleyways had acted like sledgehammers on its body. Its feeble, rod-like frame appeared to be steel pipes, haphazardly welded together to resemble an oversized bicycle. It had not been operational for at least two years, in which time its job had been to store dust and grow rust. Only the occasional speck of flaking blue paint could be found amidst the pervasive rust. For fifty US dollars, it was mine. But there was one small problem; it didn’t run. After a week of arduous labor, costing only five dollars, one of the questionable mechanics who sit on the side of the road got my new kitten to purr. However on the ride home, and each subsequent outing, different parts of the bike began to tragically fail.
One of the first things to go on the bike was its ability to idle. If the speed dipped below five kilometers per hour the engine would choke and die, leaving me vulnerable at stoplights. At which point I had two options: 1) pedal thru the intersection until I got up enough speed to revive it, or 2) prop it up on its kickstand and pedal start it in place. The problem with the latter is that the kickstand was contorted so that it was holding the bike up by the carburetor, chronically causing it to bleed until the gas tank was dry as a civ. Each time the wound could be temporarily bandaged by the nearest mechanic with a little corrugated tin snipped from his roof. However, both options soon became functionally impossible. With a crack and a ping, the left pedal snapped into a position that was offset from the right pedal at ninety degrees. Thus when one pedal was swung around the other was not in proper stepping position, making pedaling unfeasible.
The muffler system had long since broken off. The hole where it had once been attached now spewed a palpable charcoal cloud. Many times the bike tried to suffocate us both in the garage, attempting to end its pathetic existence. To counteract its smoking problem, it required a special cocktail of gasoline and oil concocted by a random man along the roadside. He would shake up an ounce of oil with a liter of gasoline in dirty glass bottles and label it Mélange. The motorbike was an addict. With each bottle its shaking would intensify, as if begging for one more drop while its insides became coated with tar.
People always seemed to know when I had arrived somewhere. I was never quite sure what tipped them off first: a combination of the deafening ping of the lawnmower-sized engine and the scraping rattle of the chain, or the pungent smell of Mélange leaking from every orifice and evaporating off the red-hot engine.
Needless to say, the motorbike never finished me off. While it did get the best of me in numerous ways – ground up or stained many of my clothes, ran me into the back of a sedan, and got me sideswiped by a small bus – I was able to escape the country and leave the decrepit death-machine to another unsuspecting victim.