Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Something nice about Fritz...

Fritz of Cycle-licious fame, whose name in Klingon sounds like "cough-cough-spit-gargle", sent me a gift card for a book on Amazon. I used it to purchase a copy of Bob Mionske's "Bicycling and the Law." Come to think of it, his name sounds like "cough-cough-spit-gargle" too, which may indicate that Klingon is not a versatile language.

But I'm not here to discuss the intricacies of a made-up language today. No, I'm here to talk about Fritz and generosity. He knows that besides bicycles, I really like books and old cameras.

I've wanted to read Mionske's book for some time, and I looked in the Tulsa City-County Library for it. I'm a big fan of public libraries. TCCL spans the county, bringing a wealth of information into smaller communities that couldn't afford such an enormous undertaking on their own.

The library didn't have a copy of Mionske's book, however, so I planned to get one through a bookstore in Tulsa. Like many of my plans, other events intervened. Anyone with a family knows how this works. Dad's projects take a back seat to ones with higher priority, like grocery shopping, kid counseling, and in our recent experience, replacing the family sled after the Ford went to the Great Parking Lot In The Sky.

Growing up in Pittsburgh, I knew of Andrew Carnegie, one of the barons of the Gilded Age, who established the Carnegie Library system as a philanthropic effort. Millions have benefited from his largess. Both his fortune and his generosity were on an almost incomprehensibly large scale. Millions of books. Millions of people.

But this is supposed to be about Fritz. I believe he has that same generous heart as Carnegie and it's every bit as big. His fortune, however, is not. So he does what he can just like the rest of us, and I happen to be the recipient of his largess.

Long ago, I had a roomie from Steelton who said, "What goes around, comes around." It's a kind of Steel Valley karma. "Mess with me and I'll mess with you", spoken softly but carrying a fistful of menace. There's a good side to karma too, when one thoughtful deed spawns others. They all carom off in a cascade of generosity heading toward points unknown.

What have I done to continue that line of good karma? That brings us back around to the Ford.

We donated the car to a charity, partly on the advice of my insurance agent. He said that local wrecking yards wouldn't take it unless the gas tank was drained and removed. I wasn't about to do that myself and it wasn't cost-effective to pay a garage to do it. The charity will remove the parts that can be readily sold, like the tires and battery, and the rest of the car will go to the wreckers. According to their rep, they don't make much doing this and, due to the present economic down turn, they're making even less these days. So they were happy to get the car. I'm happy to be relieved of the constant maintenance headaches, but Mary misses that little blue Ford. "It took us all across the country," she said. "It deserves more." When the kids were little, about a quarter of the car's annual mileage came from vacation trips between Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Georgia. She insisted on saying goodbye to our old car.

My wife is kind-hearted and she's an example for the rest of the family. We don't have a lot of money, but she shows us that we can be equally generous with our time and attention. Now, if we were enormously wealthy, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed would insist that we feed all of you and your pets. Although when I think about it, she may feed the pets first.

So, Fritz, do you see what's you've done? A simple gift, a book, begins as a ripple spreading across the surface of a pond. But unlike a ripple, it gains strength as it travels, growing as it travels though each person it encounters. I will prize this book. It will go on my reference shelf next to Barnett's Manual, John Forester's "Effective Cycling", a first edition of Eugene Sloane's "Complete Book of Bicycling", and all those Victoria's Secret catalogs.

And finally, did you know that "cough-cough-spit-gargle" rhymes with the Klingon word for 'attention whore'? I didn't. (It's a private joke.)


Blogger Yokota Fritz said...

So, just like Andrew Carnegie, I'm an attention whore. Thanks for the kind words (I think).


6:31 PM  

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