Tats, an avid commuter cyclist, was the beneficiary of a new, FREE bike here in Buenos Aires back in November, thanks to the generosity of one of our visitors. She used the bike daily to ride to her Spanish course, and even had a rack installed on it so that she could pick up groceries for us once in a while. The deal was that -- rather than sell it when we leave -- we'd pass the bike along to another "cyclist in need".
About a week ago, I therefore posted an ad on the Expat forum, retelling to story of the free bike, giving a brief description, and inviting "applicants" to respond to three questions:
- Why do you want the bike?
- Why do you deserve the free bike?
- How will you "pay it forward" when you are done with the bike (i.e. when you leave BsAs)?
I agreed to read the first ten responses before making a decision. I knew I'd enjoy the responses; what I hadn't considered was how hard it would be to make a decision!!!
Here are some highlights from some of my favourites:
- The guy who has "high cholesterol (230) and it is time to start now!"
- The gal passionately volunteering with Startup BA to "help make this amazing city even better"
- The fellow from Greenpeace Argentina who was looking for bikes for his warehouse volunteers -- I love Greenpeace and the courageous work they do
- The person who responded that he had no intention of leaving BsAs (and therefore couldn't really "pay it forward") because he lived on the beach and wanted the bike to ride there... but, he argued, "riding up and down the beach is what a good bike would want... the bike will be happy!!!" He also noted that he had a secure storage room for the bike (thoughtful) and wanted to use the bike for exercise (fair enough). He ended with pleading his beach case once more: "In the city you have a chance to be killed riding -- here it is much slower and less traffic..... this bike should retire at the beach!!!"
Ultimately, we decided to offer the bike to someone whose situation most resembled our own in that the one was an avid cyclist and other wanted to support her here on a tight budget. The applicant noted that his wife was beginning her residency in BsAs and that every time they walk by one of the bike lanes, her comment was "I miss my bike". He promised that the bike would be treated with great care.
"I love working on our bikes & this one is really special. Funny how we're more willing to purchase parts for our bikes rather than use money to go to movies, something to eat, etc. It's totally bike first!!!"
He also promised that when the time came to pass the bike on, they would have it in the best shape possible. We felt certain that this couple would continue the legacy of the bike and pass it along to someone else who would benefit from the bike in the future.
We were sold!
But then, after multiple emails, our schedules kept misaligning, and then, to complicated matters further, after nearly a week of trying to make it all work out, our beneficiary was suddenly called back to his home country to deal with some unexpected paperwork.
Although I could anticipate our number one's frustration, we had to act fast: As we are getting ready to head out of own and then out of the country, and want to be certain the bike finds a good home before we are gone forever, we elected to move on to our second choice, a street dog rescuer (she owns two) from the States who has lived here for three years and wanted the bike "for my pups! I rescued 2 dogs here in Argentina with my boyfriend and they're youngish (1 and 3). Their dogwalker doesn't charge us, but she can't come everyday, so sometimes they're stuck at home while I work."
Apparently the dog walker has trained the dogs to run along behind her bike, and they've gotten really good at following along. One of the dogs in particular is quite high energy, and really benefits from a good jog. "I have tried running with them," our new winner noted, "but they do not follow (and bite and rip my clothes)". She'd been looking into getting a bike but had found -- like us -- that "they are WILDLY expensive here."
Not anymore, Nora, now you have a new bike! :D
(She came to pick it up immediately after I emailed her tonight, and showed me photos of the two VERY CUUUUTE doggies who would be getting good exercise running behind bike, on her phone.)
Nora promised to pass the bike along to her dog walker when she leaves. "She not only introduced me to my amazing pups, but she walks them and answers any weird questions I have. She constantly fosters dogs, so I know she'll use the bike for her partner (who she walks with) or pass it along to someone in need."
What a fun exercise! I feel very lucky to have been able to participate in this activity, and am thankful to our benefactor for enabling this to happen. (Thanks, Ricky! The karma of the bike lives on here on the other side of the equator!!!)