Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bicycle Parts and Fuel Pumps

Today I will pick up my fork and rear hub from the shop. I try to do all my own work but there are a few things I can’t do, like tap the left hand crank arm, chase and face a new bottom bracket shell, install fork bushings, and remove needle bearings from a Chris King rear hub.

I try to be self-sufficient in everything. Changing a fuel pump in the driveway is no fun in January but it is a matter of principle. I get this from my dad but he is so much more competent than me that I am embarrassed to compare myself to him. Last summer my dad gave a friend of mine a beat up 1967 MG. I wasn't there but Kevin met my dad at his barn to pick up the car and got to see him in action.

On our next ride, Kevin relays the story: The MG had three flat tires. Kevin only brought a tow bar to transport the car home so the flat tires were a bit of an issue but my dad had some spare tires laying around. Kevin starts to take the tires and wheels to a gas station to get mounted but dad explains that there is no need for that. He gets a long crow bar from the barn and pries the tires off the rims, pries on the new tires, and pumps them up with a canister of compressed air, as if everyone changes their car tires by hand. Kevin tells me my dad is a man’s man, an 82 year old bad ass.

Later my dad and I were in my backyard and I explained to him that I was going to build a deck. His eyes got wide and, beaming with pride, says: “you can have my [manual] miter saw!” Me: “oh no dad, I mean I am going to have someone build my deck.” I can still see the disappointment in his eyes. I was a 40 year old man but felt like a kid who just hit a baseball through the front window. He naturally assumed I was going to spend my summer building this three story, wrap around deck myself…and cut all the wood with a hand saw. There is no question he would have done it when he was my age. My dad is the last of a dying generation. A man who graduated high school a year early so he could fight in WWII and has nothing but good things to say about being in the U.S. Navy (my dad, in all the bewilderment of a child: “it was amazing, all the food you wanted, you just had to walk up and get it. Amazing…”).

I am concerned I do not have my dad’s work ethic. I am concerned that Americans don't have his generation’s work ethic. We have gotten lazy and complacent. I am so glad I will be dead before China kicks our ass because it will hurt. And we deserve it.

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