This is a story about timing and luck. Well, I guess that’s kind of redundant, isn’t it? Luck often has everything to do with timing, doesn’t it? Or vice versa. Or something.
This afternoon, I went out to buy a bunch of groceries. I had also decided to stop at the bike shop near the grocery store, because I really, really needed to buy a couple of reflective ankle straps, to keep my pants out of my bike chain.
I’d been to this bike store once previously, the Sunday following the major (for Portland) snow storms that basically shut the city down for about 3 days. It had been in combination with another trip to the grocery store; that time, I need some chain lube, so I could (finally) get my bike into shape and start riding to work. I’d been in my new place for a week at that point, and I really wanted to take advantage of the short distance and bike to work.
The streets were pretty quiet – they were very slushy and really pretty much a mess. The really major streets had some traffic, but that was about it. There were a lot of people in the local park, sledding down the short but steep hill there.
I got to the bike shop, and the guy working there asked if I needed anything. I told him I just needed some oil for my chain, and he brings over this little bottle of chain lube, explains that there’s another version, based on soy instead of petroleum, that worked slightly less well, etc., etc., be sure you wipe it off after letting it soak, so it won’t get too much dirt adhered, the usual. I say, okay, I’ll buy this.
He starts telling me he’s really thrilled, no you don’t understand why this is so exciting, I will tell you!
He goes on to say that ever since they opened in like 2001, every day he’d opened the register to make a sale, he’d sold something. Some days it was just a little thing, but it was something, and here it was, this gross day, he was positive that this unbroken streak was going to be over, he’d been saying to [Steve] that maybe he wouldn’t even open the shop today – “. . . Did Steve talk to you? . . . ” – but he did, and that’s why he’s so happy! The streak remains unbroken!
I went on my way feeling extraordinarily amused and pleased, and bought my groceries, and made it home without anything further of note happening.
So today, I’m back there, to buy some ankle straps, and I figured I’d actually look around a bit, see what gear they have – I hadn’t done that on my previous visit at all. I didn’t need anything in particular, but it never hurts to know what’s available.
There was a small rack of waterproof jackets I looked over, and made a note of for future reference, because I’ve been casually looking for a replacement for years, but REI, where I bought my original jacket, seemed to have stopped selling any high-visibility rain coats with armpit zippers, which I really, really love in a rain coat. And this rack had them! They also had a large pocket in the back of the coat, and an LED built into the rear as well, for extra visibility.
As I was looking them over, the guy, the guy from the last time, comes over and asks if I need help.
No, just browsing for now, I said, but I commented I was excited about these coats, because they had some features I really liked.
He said he’d been debating still having them out, “because the rainy season’s pretty much over.”
I looked at him like he’d grown a second head, “Rainy season ENDS here?!”
He laughed and said, yeah, he’d grown up here, he should know better! Anyway. He mentioned the coats were 30% off, because end of the rainy season, feel free to try them on, look around, etc., and then went off to attend to something else.
. . . 30% off. Well.
That was hard to pass by; cycling jackets are not inexpensive. Cycling jackets with LED lighting built in are even pricier, but even without the discount, they were within my comfort zone for purchase.
So I brought to the register: one of the jackets and a waterproof pair of gloves (also long on my “need” list, and my current gloves are about to fall apart). The ankle straps were on a display behind the register.
I stood there for a while waiting; eventually, I could hear the guy back in the corner, he was working on someone’s bike, and talking to a couple people hanging around there.
Suddenly, I picked up on what he was telling them: the story of how the unbroken streak from 2001 had remained unbroken.
“You remember that Sunday after the storms when the streets were all messy and water was running down them and all that? I almost didn’t open the store that day! I figured there wouldn’t be any point, no one would come in! But I figured I’d come in anyway, and then that afternoon, I sold this girl a five dollar bottle of chain lube, and I just had to explain why I was so thrilled about it.”
After a few more minutes, he was done with the bike, and the story, and came to the register, and rung up my 30% off raingear, and said if I don’t like the coat just bring it back, oh these gloves are really great! they’ve got this reinforcing in this one area that is really great! and got me the ankle straps that were all I meant to buy when I walked in, and thanked me for the business, and I went on my way feeling EXTRAORDINARILY AMUSED and a little weird and thinking weird thoughts about how seemingly very small actions maybe can have significant ripple effects.
(When I got home, I walked over to Loki’s altar, wagged my finger at it, and said, “Thank You.” I can’t say I know, but. I can’t say it’s out of the realm of possibility, either.)