Well If That Don’t Beat All.

October 7, 2009

When you sell bikes for a living you hear a lot of stories. People have all kinds of reasons for buying bikes. Sometimes there’s a big life changing thing that happens, or someone needs to get in shape for something, or someone is out of shape because of a life changing thing, and so on. I’ve heard a lot of them now, and a lot of different kinds from “I just got divorced, and I really deserve this” to “I was pronounced dead, but lived  and the doctors said I’d be a vegetable.” But today I heard one. A kind that I’d never heard before. This wasn’t even my sale, but I had to listen in, because it’s wins the pot.

This middle aged guy, and a younger guy were in the store together. Both of them were weird.  The older guy was slightly overweight, he was wearing “fitness clothes,” and he had a tattoo of a lone wolf howling at the moon.  The other sales guy working with them mentioned in passing that the older guy was a Vietnam vet.  So, right there… Then I over hear him saying he was up way late.

“Out partying?” The salesman asked.

“No. I got a Xbox.” He replied, and followed with, “I’ve been clean and sober for 21 years. If I’da had one more drink I woulda gone to jail, an’ my brother went to jail same way, an’ he died there. I haven’t had a drink since June 23, 1988.”

“Oh, man. Good for you.” The salesman sounded off uncomfortably.

The man went on to say some other things I didn’t really hear about growing up in New York? Owning a bar? Living in England? Something else, and then:

“… two guys escaped from Chino, an’ they came broke into my house, they killed my wife, killed my two kids, an’ cut ’em up wit a chainsaw, I came home from work that night an’ had to identify their bodies, that was twelve years ago, then i wen’ up to 300 pounds, started goin’ to the gym, work out early in the mornin’ before i go to work…”

The story goes on as a personal narrative of his struggle with fitness, and the difficulty he’s had finding a quality fitness establishment (like one that will stop charging his dead wife a membership fee) and how he’s just going to ride a bike from now on.

I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m trivializing this guy, because (if all that stuff is true) I am amazed and impressed by his desire to even be alive, let alone his commitment to staying healthy.  A man who served combat in an horrific modern war, who fought a hard battle with alcohol, whose brother died in prison, and whose family was left horrendously murdered by escaped prisoners for him to see.  A man like that really is a lone wolf. A pack animal without a pack, who can survive, and persevere.


2 Responses to “Well If That Don’t Beat All.”

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