I owe my mom an apology and now is a good time to give it. But first I’ll tell you about my friend Burke.
Such a decent man is he that when I decided I really ought to go to church, I chose Burke’s church. If more people like him were there, I thought, it must be a good place.
But that’s a story for another time. I first met Burke one day as he was walking along the street in front of my house. Burke walks the neighborhood daily, usually with his dog.
He likes to help people whenever he is able. And in the years I have known him he periodically has phoned me to enlist my assistance, as he did one particular afternoon.
Basic tricycle transportation for an old fellow
An old man in the neighborhood could no longer drive. The man told Burke he wished he had a three-wheel bike, to ride into town.
Burke, who does not have an internet connection, asked if I could find an adult tricycle on the Web.
What did he expect? Neither of us has much money, so I guess what he really wanted was that I find a free one. Or as close to it as possible. Being a man of God, I guess Burke routinely looks for miracles.
But I quickly discovered that used three-wheeled bikes are none too common, and they are pricey indeed. My Web search that evening turned up a half dozen at most, and even those were many miles from the neighborhood in which Burke and I live. And the prices were hard to believe.
Even used 3-wheelers can command hundreds
In fact, I’ll just do a quick search online here and now, to show you what I mean.
In Craigslist postings for my local area, I find more than 50 tricycles. Only problem is, all but two of them are children’s trikes.
Only two are adult tricycles. Neither is identified by brand. One is described as blue, in excellent condition, kept inside, hardly ridden, three speed, coaster brakes and a large rear basket. It is about 40 miles from where I live.
The price? $350.
The other adult three-wheeler is described only as brand new, royal blue with silver fenders, cargo box on rear, and is about 66 miles from where I live. That’s listed for $575.
I must be seriously out of touch. Isn’t $350 to $575 about what I’d pay for a motorcycle?
Looking further online, I see that Walmart offers a Schwinn adult tricycle for $259. (What are the ones on Craigslist, Rolls Royces?) Still, you get the idea: Adult trikes are expensive.
As I prepared for bed I lamented I was going to have to tell Burke the bad news: This mission was well beyond our budget, particularly as he had mentioned no money at all.
A trike appears in the distant bush
But oh, me of little faith. The next morning, after I sat down at the computer to check email and the latest news, I decided to have a quick look to see if anyone had newly listed an adult tricycle. And lo and behold, someone had.
A Craigslist posting for a garage sale listed a three-wheeler among about a dozen items. Eureka!
But there was no price given, and no phone number — and the sale was 50 miles from where I lived.
As it happened, though, work that day took me 45 miles in that direction. Another obstacle fallen.
It occurred to me as I drove that garage sales are often endeavors in which people want to get rid of stuff, where as Craigslist is usually where someone wants to get the most money possible. So my hopes were high.
As I reached the sale at an old house on a rural highway, I was excited to see the large white tricycle still in the yard.
When I pulled in, I was the only visitor. Anxiously I approached the gleaming white transporter and found the price on a sticker on the seat.
A hundred bucks.
Never hurts to offer a little less
Well, that wasn’t bad! Fifty dollars would have been better, but $100 was less than half the price of anything I’d seen online, and it was almost affordable to me.
“Would you take $75 for your tricycle?” I asked the couple sitting in the garage.
“Yep,” came the reply.
The man told me the family had bought it second-hand for their disabled daughter, who had got a lot of use out of it before she died.
So there we were, me and the excellently-priced Miami Sun tricycle, with 50 miles to get it home and only my Toyota Camry as transport.
But as I carry a few tools in the car, and the man was most helpful, we managed to remove the wheels and seat and loosen the handlebars to bend them downward.
I moved the car’s passenger seat as far forward as it would go, and with no room to spare we managed to squeeze the South Korean export ‘s frame into the back seat.
Three-wheeler is prepped for a new owner
The next morning I extracted the disassembled contraption and rebuilt it, then rode it two blocks to Burke’s. I was not at all impressed by the ride; Even on a slight incline it was downright hard to pedal. How would an old man manage it at all?
But Burke pumped up the tires and made other mechanical adjustments (he used to install printing presses) and took and presented it to the man who inspired the mission.
My mother, meanwhile, upon hearing what I’d done, wanted a hand in the good deed, and she came up with the $75. So the bike cost me and Burke nothing. It’s amazing how the Lord gets things done sometimes.
As I suspected, the man decided within a few days that the trike was too difficult — the neighborhood where we live is hilly, for starters — and he did not want it.
Oh well. At least we got him past his yearning. I advertised the three-wheeler on Craigslist for $135 and Burke sold it quickly, to a couple who came quite a distance to look at it.
I told Burke to keep $20 for the trouble.
My confession and apology
And as I sit here now I tell you I had every intention of giving my dear mother $100, but being the flawed son I am, and money being tight, I spent it before I could. I never told her that the trike didn’t work out, that we took it back and sold it for a profit.
So I’m ‘fessing up here with a humble apology to her — surely she will read this in the course of time. I know she would have told me to keep the money. But I was proud of the deal I’d made and eager to boast of it to her. I just never managed to do it. What a piece of work I am.
That said, if you should find yourself at a garage sale or yard sale and see a good used adult tricycle for $100, ask them if they’ll take $75 for it. Better yet, ask if they’ll take $50. Because, presuming you can get it home and advertise it online, some people will drive a long way to give you what you paid plus a tidy little profit.