Tuesday, February 12, 2008


The Enlightening Effects of Bicycling

Although I believe no product ever sold (especially one dispensed by Steve Jobs) can bring joy, there are procurable objects which can provide one with enlightenment about human nature, which is at times the opposite of delight.

If you live in a large urban area, one of those objects is a bicycle. In an area like rural Tennessee where I grew up, bike-riding is an entirely different experience; there is plenty of wide-open space and the assortment of hills and valleys provide plenty of exercise. In fact, the only disadvantage of bike riding in Tennessee is if you wear brown, you might be shot, stuffed and mounted by one of the less sober local sportsmen.

By contrast, there are few urban areas larger than Seoul, my current city of residence. Though smaller in landmass than the state of Tennessee, South Korea is home to nearly 50 million people, about 1/4th of whom live in Seoul and approximately 1/5th of whom shop at the same grocery store that I use on weekends.

I recently purchased a bicycle to aid in transporting me to various places not quite within walking distance of my apartment, such as said grocery store, the fitness gym and office where I pay gratuitous monthly cell phone bills. In addition to the soreness caused this particular mode of transportation’s seating, the money spent on this purchase has educated me a great deal as to the on-foot migratory patterns of humans, which in-turn enlightens one as to their personality traits.

I have long believed that there are three types of people in the world: 1) those who believe that there are three types of people in the world, 2) those who don’t, and 3) those who enjoy the writings of Ann Coulter.

Now, if you belong to group two, by reading this you can learn how those of us in group one think. If you are in group three, your having read this far already violates the restraining order I’ve filed against you, but you might as well finish.

If you belong to group one and aren’t sure of your placement within the three groups you believe exist, you can find out by taking this simple test. Circle the letter that best describes you.

1. While traveling great distances on the sidewalk, I use ______________.
a. the bicycle that I saved for and which helps me make the journey more efficient.
b. my feet, because I’ve spent too much money on hair care products and designer jeans to afford a bicycle.
c. my feet, because I understand what these young people don’t, and that’s that walking great distances builds character.

2. While traveling on sidewalks, I pay attention to __________________.
a. the people and objects ahead of me, because I don’t want to have an accident.
b. my iPod.
c. the objects on sale in store windows. You know, things cost a lot more today than they used to, and it’s because these young people don’t know the value of a dollar, and that’s because they don’t have character.

3. When the person on a bicycle rings his or her bell indicating that they want to go around me, I __________________.
a. promptly move to the side, because I know how irritating it can be to have to peddle a bicycle at an excruciatingly slow pace behind someone who isn’t paying attention or doesn’t care.
b. … I’m sorry, were you saying something? I was listening to my iPod.
c. do nothing, because either my hearing is not what it used to be or I think the person on his or bicycle can build a lot of valuable character by peddling at an excruciatingly slow pace behind me.

4. If I were to cause a person on a bicycle to have to stop suddenly, he or she would probably be __________________.
a. unhappy, because getting 10 pounds of metal and plastic moving again isn’t always that easy.
b. okay, really, or at least better than I’d be if I had to like, put my iPod on pause.
c. unhappy, probably, but think of all the important character they’d be building.

5. In the November election, I will vote for __________________.
a. none of the major candidates, because none of them are addressing the our nation’s real long-term concerns.
b. none of the major candidates, because I don’t know where the voting booths are.
c. none of the major candidates, because none of them are in favor of burning illegal immigrants at the stake.

If you circled mostly A’s, you are the modern, thoughtful bicycle-owner. If you circled mostly B’s, you really aren’t wise enough to be walking on sidewalks by yourself yet. Then again, you probably aren’t reading this in the first place because you think newspapers don’t have enough pictures.

If you circled mostly C’s, then you probably should have your license to walk outside in public re-evaluated. And, by the way, Mitt Romney lost: get over it.

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