Just a Typical, Tucson Bike Ride

Tucson had its first signs of fall today. Rather than topping out at 106 degrees, it was a balmy 103.

The weather seemed ripe for a bike ride since my trusty steed had sat dormant due to the extreme heat. I also needed to mail in the rent check, so a stop by the post office was on my to do list as well. As Uncle Dave Ramsey says, in a pinch, one can skimp on some payments, but rent should never be among them. I think his rationale is that it’s a lot harder to do without shelter than it is to do without an iPhone. I’m not sure that he’s entirely right. But it seems wise to pay rent all the same.

As I etched my name to the corner of the check, and sealed up the envelope, it occurred to me how antiquated the notion of check writing is. My landlord and I could easily set up a balance transfer, and she would have the money as soon as I authorized it. Yet, we opt to play the game of formalities once a month, and I write the check for her to cash.

I made my way out the door and realized that 103 degrees isn’t terribly different from 106, so I rode my bike a little slower. The post office is located conveniently along the River Bike Path so I took my usual route through the foothills. As the sun beat down on my back, and the cacti and lizards greeted me along the way, I wondered whether my experience was similar to the pony express riders who carried mail through the desert west almost two centuries ago. It probably wasn’t much similar at all, but it was a fun thought. After all, we have roads. And ponies smell.

In short order, I made my way out of the foothills, and headed toward the River Bike Path’s entrance. Access to the path isn’t direct for me, so I dutifully walk my bike along a twenty-yards stretch of sidewalk. It’s quite illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk, and nothing annoys me more than cyclists who break the law. While walking my bike, I noticed an oddly clad young man who was himself walking in the middle of River Road. He was asking cars that had pulled up to the stop light for a ride to Campbell Avenue. The request seemed a bit odd, seeing as Campbell Ave. is less than a mile away from this particular intersection. I don’t think he was mentally stable. Still, I felt sorry for the man, until I re-remembered that it was a balmy 103 degrees. Of course, I then re-realized that 103 degrees isn’t much different from 106, and I silently re-hoped that someone would give him a lift – even if it was less than a mile away. Much to my surprise, someone did. The good samaritan was a surly looking man, driving a mini-van in such a way that he he told the world how depressing his life was. Still, I was glad the somewhat unstable young man had found a ride, even if his benefactor did reminded me a bit of John Wayne Gacy.

After reaching the post office, I noticed a postal worker schlepping mail from the curb-side mailboxes. I quickly rode up to her, gave her a bright and friendly greeting, before asking her to include my envelope with the other items in her cart. After making this utterly reasonable request, one of Jane Austen’s famous lines came to mind. “It is a truth universally acknowledged that an employee of the U.S. Postal Service is among the most miserable of human beings to walk this planet.” Jane Austen didn’t write that. But it’s a universally acknowledge truth all the same. True to form, rather than addressing me, or otherwise acknowledging my existence she pushed her cart past me, grunting in a way that only female postal workers can, and indicated that I should put my envelope where the sun doesn’t shine – presumably she meant in the mailbox, which as luck would have it had yet another pick up time at 5:00PM.

After dropping the check into the mail, I immediately felt lighter – around $850 lighter, in fact, and I quickly made my way to Gwyn. I rode quickly because I had a slight, nagging fear that Helga might come back with her Norsemen chums from the Post Office break room, and I didn’t want to be anywhere near the vicinity when they returned.

In all, I made fairly decent time getting to my wife, arriving five minutes early. This earned me only about a ten minute wait in the sun, and a quarter-mile walk to the truck, but I still call that a win. At least I wasn’t standing in the middle of the road asking errant motorists for rides.

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