Crazy Guy

I typically refer to the man who lives next door as "the crazy guy." When I was moving in, the landlord said something like "the guy who lives next door is kind of crazy, but he's harmless." In my eleven months here, I haven't seen him harm anything living, but I suspect he's doing some damage to his apartment. I base this suspicion on the clothing I occasionally see hanging among the window blinds. I imagine the clothing is there because the closet is full of dinnerware, which had to be moved so the kitchen cabinets could be used to store hundreds of jars of peanut butter. Everything beyond the blinds is just speculation, but I know that's what I would do if I were crazy.

Maybe I shouldn't call him "crazy." He seems nice enough. Sometimes when he sees Jessica or I coming in or out, he'll interrupt his ongoing conversation with himself to offer some commentary on the state of our neighborhood. "You go in and out a lot," he'll call out. I generally just smile and think to myself that he's surprisingly perceptive for a man who never wears a shirt. Jessica sometimes engages in idle chit-chat. I think this is probably a mistake on her part, but I don't much care for idle chit-chat with sane people.

Today I rode my bike up and down the street several times while twiddling with what I believe is called the "shifter." I'm not familiar with bicycle terminology, but it's the thing that makes the chain move from one gear to another. It wouldn't previously move the chain from gear one to gear two, so I'd have to move it from one to three and then back to two when I reached the top of a hill.

When I bought the bike, they told me I would probably only ever use gear two, but they were wrong. Gear three is for when you're going really fast and want to go even faster, which is a situation I never face in my commute to work. Gear one is for when you're going really slow, but it's still too much work. I use gear one. They probably thought anyone buying a fancy expensive bike would be strong enough to bypass gear one, but they were wrong. I am weak.

My commute to and from work is roughly shaped like a half pipe. I start each trip going down and end it going up. I use gear one as I'm going up the hill at the end, and then I go to gear three and back to gear two at the top. Then I get off my bike and rest while my laptop starts up, forgetting that I need to twiddle with the shifter so I can avoid the one-three-two transition in the next trip. I remembered today, so I rode up and down my street several times twiddling.

A few of my neighbors were outside and watched me ride past several times. I didn't say anything to any of them because I don't much care for idle chit-chat. The crazy guy wasn't out wandering around in front the yard, so he didn't see me. On my fourth or fifth ride past the same neighbors, I wonder if any of them thought "he's a surprisingly capable bike rider for a crazy guy." I sure hope so.

Believe it or not, I got here by Googling "while my * starts up," because I was curing about what people do during that wait. It turns out the answer is "forget to twiddle the shifter." Now I know! Keep up the informative work!

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