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Change of plans

I woke last Friday and – as is my usual morning ritual – started the day with a list.

  1. Cycle 20 miles

  2. Tailors

  3. Home Depot

  4. Edit

  5. And more

As I pedaled into my first ride of the season, my back feeling better, my mind released its hold of my To Dos and I relaxed into the seat. Cyclists passed and we exchanged knowing smiles. This was heaven. At the six-mile mark my back tire felt funny. I looked down. Pancake. After unfastening my pump – which I’d never used before – it didn’t fit. My heart sank. A cyclist stopped and handed me his. When the tire was almost full, it deflated. He wished me luck and rode off along the path that snakes behind homes, parks, rivers and a golf course. Glorious sights really, unless you get a flat.

As luck would have it, there was a window manufacturing shop nearby. Inside it was filled with wood, machinery and half-built windows. A man stopped what he was doing and tried to help. His name was Daniel.

“Let me take your bike next door,” Daniel said. “They may have something.”

And I let him.

My phone was on the bike, as well as my car keys, but I went with it. Then an older man with an Irish accent entered. The owner, Joe Doherty. We chatted. Hearing I was a writer, he took me back to his office – which looked like how an office would look if it had been through a tornado – to show me a Ne

w York Times article about Precision Windows, his business. Back in the shop Daniel handed me the tubing he’d rigged to the pump and said, “It’s no use. There’s a hole.”

I thanked Daniel and asked about a nearby taxi. But Mr. Doherty wouldn’t hear of it. As he drove me to my car, he told me about his kids and his patented windows.

After he dropped me at my car I drove to the bike store.

“You nee

d new tires,” the bike repairman said. Not something I’d planned for. While they replaced my tires, I went to Home Depot, then grabbed a salad and edited a story. Two things at least, crossed off my list.

After collecting my bike, I planned to head back to the city to get more done. But when the bike salesman said, “Enjoy your ride, it’s a beautiful day,” I changed plans. Back on the path I soon found myself smiling again, even with no one passing.

We don’t plan for flat tires, missed planes or even divorces, but it’s how we cope with these unplanned derailments that are the real accomplishments. Instead of getting upset about the flat and loss of time, I focused on what I’d gained. I met new people, enjoyed a fabulous ride, and had my faith in humanity restored knowing there are folks willing to stop what they’re doing to help someone in need.

As for the To Dos I didn’t get to? There’s always tomorrow’s list.

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