Friday, October 15, 2004

Road Trip

Talking about hardship, you have not met David yet.

Work was scarce then, and often of the backbreaking variety. As butcher boy he held a privileged position. It meant that he had access to a delivery bicycle. One of his duties was to take the bike home every night, maintain it, and lock it up in a safe place.

He had recently met a girl in a chance encounter, and she had invited him over for the Easter weekend. Only problem - she lived several hundred miles away. Without other options, he decided to use pedal power to reach his destination.

Soon the trip turned into a personal ordeal. He had one flat after another. When he eventually ran out of patches, he was forced to cut out leather strips from the tongues of his shoes.

Shortly thereafter he ran out of glue as well, and now his prospects were looking decidedly bleak. But he was desperate and not about to give up, so he cut the inner tube at the leak and tied the two ends shut with his shoelaces. After stuffing the tube back into the tire, he pumped it up, and it held! Now he had to pump every few miles, but it was progress nevertheless.

Then he blew a tire.

It was the last straw. With his mind firmly made up, he pushed the bike to the closest farmhouse, and proceeded to strike a deal with the farmer. If the kind man could lend him a horse then he would pay him a few bucks, and leave the bicycle as collateral. The farmer did not have a horse to spare, but was quite willing to contribute a mule. Desperation settled the deal.

It almost worked. However, several miles from his final destination, the mule decided it had enough, and would not budge. As he dismounted it took off – back into the direction it came from. He had little choice but to watch it until it disappeared over the horizon. Then he walked the rest of the way.

He never returned to face the farmer or the butcher again. But the story does end well – he married his sweetheart, they had 4 children and lived till a ripe old age.

Jan Tik
A story originally told by Dawid Kruger Sr.


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