I’m retired and for most of the year I can ride whenever I want with no pesky employment obligations getting in the way. But every fall I accept a seasonal job working for a walnut processor. When asked what I do, I could say that I create and manage the grower database, weigh trucks, draw samples, do moisture tests, and build a pricing model for the crop. My friends shorten this to ‘he counts nuts’, and they are not far off.
There are lots of nuts to count, more each year for the 10 years I have been at this. I really like doing the job, but while it only lasts for a month and a half, it does require 6 to 7 days each week and 9 to 11 hours a day for much of the season. So I don’t really have a chance to do club rides, or ride with Stoker on our tandem either. The best I can do is an occasional 60 to 90 minute flat ride right from my house after work. When things really get busy I have to resort to an indoor trainer at 5 am. I do 30 minutes and think of it as cycling purgatory; it is something I have to do to retain at least some of my cycling fitness before I am admitted to the Paradise of the road again.
Today was my first day completely off work in a good long while, and Stoker and I spent a large part of it on a ride together. We haven’t done much tandem riding since mid August. We were apart for 26 days on separate European trips, mine cycling and hers not. As soon as I got back I started counting nuts, and being busy with that made tandem timing difficult. But today we got back on, and we had a delightful 40 mile spin. We looped around Lodi admiring the fall foliage in the vineyards. The colors aren’t up to New England or the aspens in the Sierras and Rockies, but you can’t make wine from birch or maple or oak trees either.
The weather was perfect; sunny and cool with almost no wind. We rode 30 miles and stopped to split a turkey sandwich and a Pelligrino at Panera in Lodi. We were feeling good and enjoying the day. At West Lane and Harney we rode past a small shopping center, and two of the tenants are a ‘vape’ store and a tattoo parlor. Neither of these establishments is likely to see Stoker or me pass through their entrance doors.
On a bike you notice things that fly past in an automobile. I noticed the tattoo establishment sported a sign offering “No Money Down Tattoos!”, with “Financing Available”. For some reason I found the idea that someone would go into debt to have needles coated with dye stuck into their skin to be very entertaining. When I told Stoker what the sign said she laughed out loud. We paid cash for our cars (some of which were nothing special), borrowed as little as possible to build our house and paid it off asap, and NEVER paid any interest on credit cards or consumer loans. Our motto was if we couldn’t pay cash we couldn’t afford it. So the idea of a tattoo on credit is going to give us the giggles.
I cannot help but wonder; what is the interest rate on tattoo loans? Do tattoos depreciate like cars or hold value like houses (2009 to 2012 excepted)? Are there short-term loans for a long-term body modification? What about collateral? Like Shylock, could the lender ask the borrower to put up ‘ a pound of flesh’ ? Can tattoos be repossessed?
And I never would have seen the sign if we hadn’t been cycling. A two-wheeled world view can give an entirely different perspective.