Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Kindness of Bike People -- A Typewriter Tale

While I do most of my writing on laptop computers, my phone and now my new Android tablet (more about that in some other post), I recently got an urge to pound out some words via an older machine, an old manual typewriter. This desire was sparked by seeing an old typewriter in a thrift store near my home, but that machine was a bit too big and too new for my purposes. I began my quest for the old with a more modern query, I asked on Twitter for suggestions as to where I might find an old typewriter

Jolene (@mujozen) from Eugene, Oregon is someone I know only through Twitter. and she suggested I check out the Goodwill store. When I reported back that the Seattle Goodwill only had electric typewriters, she replied that she had an old Royal typewriter that I could have, but I'd need to find some way of getting the typewriter from Eugene. Again, I asked on Twitter, this time looking for someone who might be headed from Eugene to the Seattle area. This time my friend Madi (@familyride) replies that her friend Elisabeth (@epsnider) is visiting family in Eugene and could maybe help out. Elisabeth, who I don't know at all, immediately replies that sure, she'd be happy to pick up the typewriter but she'll be camping down in Oregon for a while so would it be OK if I wait a bit for the typewriter. Of course this is OK. People I barely know or don't know at all are getting me a typewriter.

And this is the point of this little story. There are great people in the world. Jolene, Madi and Elisabeth all went out of their way to extend some kindness towards me. Jolene told me she may tap me at some point in the future for some bike repair or advice and Madi says her kindness was "nothing". Elisabeth at least lets me buy her and her kids something at a Seattle coffee shop. Kindness is never nothing. I owe all these three women more than I can repay, but I'll try. Jolene said she'd only pass her typewriter on to "a real writer." I'll do what I can to earn her trust.

Last week was the great typewriter hand off. I rode my bike from Issaquah to Seattle. Christine's pal the heron was keeping watch at the Bellevue Slough.

I noticed some new art in the I-90 bike tunnel.

I checked out the parking squid's new location by the Seattle waterfront.

I walked my bike across the Ballard Locks.

Elisabeth and I met up at Firehouse Coffee in Ballard. I think she was as excited as I was.

I got my first look at the machine I'd come to think of as "The Royal Baby."

Elisabeth and her kids waved goodbye as I loaded the typewriter onto my bike.

On the way home I stopped off for a visit with my friend Chris Cameron at Rosebud Custom Bicycle Builds. Chris is quite possibly the most meticulous mechanic in Seattle and he loves what he does, so we always have plenty to chat about. He sees the typewriter on the back of my bike and asks about it.

"Can you still get ribbons?"

"Amazon," I replied.

"Of course. But why a typewriter?"

"Great American novel. Something to be said to pounding words straight to paper."

"I get it. What's the novel?"

I gave him my jacket blurb, "He's a hyper-intelligent, telepathic raccoon. She's a homeless bike mechanic. Together they fight crime."

"Oh man, you gotta write that."

"I know," I replied, "Hence, the typewriter."

"One more thing..." Chris said.

"Yeah?" I said.

"Put me in the book."

"I'll see what I can do.'

Chris also gave me one of his very nifty Rosebud bike shirts. The image on it shows Eddy Merckx working on his bike.

It was a beautiful day for riding.

In August in the Pacific Northwest, bike fuel grows right alongside the trail.

As if the day hadn't already given me enough, I found a roll of electrical tape on the roadside.

There are a lot of great people out in the world and a lot of great places to ride. Get out there and enjoy it.

Right now, I've got some typing to do.

By the way, the typewriter works great, except for the backspace key. I think that's OK, it's like the machine is telling me to push onward.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah, WA USA


Johann Rissik said...

Lovely story, Kent. And twitter being used for communication with real people to deliver tangible results.
Now get typing...:)

Jim said...

Good luck with the novel!

Just saw this and chuckled at seeing two bike bloggers musing about biking and typewriters on the same day. It's been years (if ever) that the subjects have intertwined.


St Andrews Biker said...

I really enjoyed the read!!! Great Story and truly fantastic photos! Keep up the bloggering!!!

Betty said...

Great story! I have a 1932 Royal typewriter myself so I know how persnickety they can be. If the key sticks try a drop of sewing machine oil in the joint. I dip a needle in the bottle and carefully apply it. Then let it sit for a few minutes and wipe off the excess. Try the key again, if it still sticks repeat and wiggle gently while it soaks in. Then wipe clean. Good Luck!

Chris said...

I live a few blocks from the site of the Royal typewriter factory, which sadly burned down in 1992, here in Hartford, CT. Actually, I'm halfway between that and the Pope factory, where Columbia and Hartford bicycles were made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. My typewriter is an Underwood, also made in Hartford. Bike Walk Connecticut's office is in the old Underwood factory, which still stands. Bike/typewriter connections abound!

MzunguEriki said...

Great read.
Waiting for the novel.

Lisa said...

The social virtual to in person connection is always heartening. So is the kindness.

Philip said...

I had a friend with an old Range Rover (the Wild Kingdom kind) that lacked a reverse gear. He told everyone that was "just how the British did it - Ever Onward!"

Richard said...

Great story Kent.

I'd love a typewriter - my brothers and I used to play around on a huge ancient one of my Mum's when we were kids.

I was overjoyed this week to see that my 5 year old daughter's classroom also has one which they can play around on - so glad that education's not just about the technology! :-)

Sally said...

I saw the story unfold on Twitter. I've never met you Kent but have found your bike & book tweets and advice to be spot on and much appreciated. Plus I used to live in Issaquah. And I know Elizabeth--she married a childhood friend of my son. And then I met Jolene recently in person (I live near Eugene and somehow came across her on twitter through a RT by someone) and when she started to talk about a typewriter, I said, "Oh, YOU'RE the one who gave the typewriter to Kent." Small, kind bike world.