It’s a grey cool day in the city of Amsterdam. My bike was stolen last night, so I can either walk everywhere and feel bummed out about loosing my almost new mountain bike, or get excited about a new cycle. With every stolen bike comes disappointment; knowing that thirty more euros (on locks and twelve on the bike itself) is about to be spent. Strolling over the Amstel River, the glassy reflections of the tall, leaning houses always puts me at ease. The river is bustling with rondvaarts; the long glass topped tourist boats that speed through the canals, barreling through anything in its path; and local cruisers of all sorts. I can’t look and admire for too long as bikes fly everywhere in Amsterdam. One must be alert at all times.
Only a few blocks now and my excitement is bubbling in my belly. I think I’ll walk through the brick and stone archway leading to the courtyard of the University. This way I can pop out inconspicuously on to the walkway at the bottom of the Achterburgwal. There are quite a few students around, and although most people have done the dirty deed of buying the junky bike, I still feel a bit off. I still feel like I’m buying drugs off the street; that kind of guilty tense feeling. Scanning the area, hmmm, there seems to be no sign of police… or junkies for that matter. Damn, I have to be patient. I’ve bought bikes before when all I have to do is show up, choose, and take it for a test spin. Now I have to find a place where I can survey the scene and watch the bikes cruise by. Junkies ride the bikes slowly and survey the scene also. If I can hold back, I can observe the condition of the bikes without being seen. This way I can observe if the junky looks comfortable ridding, or if the bike has a few glitches. There are no return policies here, so I’d better get it right. “Oh perfect, there’s a dock about fifty meters away that jets out over the canal. The vantage point is perfect” I think to myself.
Amsterdam canal houses are leaning over me with their sculptured arched roof fronts, long windows and creative brick work. The stories these houses could tell, hovering over the oldest canal in the city for five hundred years. And one day they may tell the story of this Canadian guy who waited to buy the most perfect junky bike of the day.
What bike should I get? Maybe a cruiser, or maybe a mountain bike? I’ll see. Here comes the first one. The bike looks okay, but the junky looks desperate. Man look at this frail guy. Whoever buys this bike is going to support his next hit! Can I do this? Can I be a part of the problem? Sure I can. I’m not the problem, his addiction is, the drug dealers are. I just want an affordable bike to ride.
See that’s what the junkies provide. Clean affordable transportation for everyone. Who am I to change the way of the city! Here he comes. Nope, forget it. I can see him look down at the peddles every so often. That’s a sure sign the bike has some issues. Shit I just got eye contact! Don’t come over here…phew he’s past. La dee da. Man patience just isn’t my thing. I know it’s a beautiful setting, but I want this bike now! Shit, here comes the rain. Lovely… just accept it. It’s always easier to deal with cold and unpleasant weather if you relax and welcome it. Hey, here comes another bike. He looks Moroccan. I’ll watch for a while and see the bike’s condition. He’s circling over the bridge, and it looks quite nice, the color bright orange, a real cruiser. Shit I’d better run up there before anyone else lays claim to the bike.
Alright, get eye contact and give him a nod of the head. Okay, he sees me. Over he comes.
“You looking for a bike man?”
“Yeah, how much?”
Twenty five? Alright, act cool and talk him down.
“Can I take er’ for a spin?” He’s looking a little suspiciously at me.
“Yes but stay where I can see you.”
“I’ll take it for twelve?”
“No man, twenty.”
“Come on, I know the cost of a bike like this. I’ll give you seventeen, and that’s generous.”
He nods yes! Not bad, this new bike is GREAT! I’ll stand out like a sore thumb with the orange color. This is of course what I want. Finding your bike on an Amsterdam bike rack can be daunting if you don’t have any individualism. One last look around for any cops… none.
“Here you go, thanks.”Share This: