Thursday, February 17, 2005

About the New Bike

I walked to the bike store. It's around the corner from the post office and I needed to mail my sister some CDs I'd burned for her. A guy on the Democrats Abroad list offered them to someone and I was the first one to request them. After downloading them and listening to them, I thought my sister would enjoy David Sedaris' Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.

When I went downstairs, the very tall guy with impossibly beautiful skin was not there. Instead, there were other guys, two with some degree of charm. The third looked like he might never be allowed out of the basement. I test drove the new bike - which feels about twice as high as my old bike - and I bought it. These guys always speak in English. I could probably make it through in Dutch, but it's easier for me in English. Part of me likes to think that I am lulling them into a false sense of security and that one day I will be able to understand enough Dutch, but they will think of me as an English speaker. We'll see how this fantasy progresses.

I asked the fellow making out a receipt how I could register my bike. It was one of the most important considerations for me. You can't register a stolen bike, or a questionably purchased bike, or an inherited bike. You have to have a reciept in hand - so the legend goes. The story is told that they put a number on the bike that makes it unappealing for theives to steal it and is in some color, so it is easily spotted.

The guy looked at me and said, "Koninginplein. It is on (giggle) Queen's Square. You know where that is?"

Well, first of all, there is no Queen's Square. I could look all day for Queen's Square. I will not find it. It's Koninginplein, which translates to Queen's Square. And secondly, what's with the giggle? They said I should definitely register it with the police and I left.

Upon entering the police station, I was greeted by a small, young, blonde woman. She is pretty enough, but the kind of woman who has no more imagination than to become a police officer. I stated in Dutch that I had just bought a bike and that I would like to register it. She looked at me blankly. Then I stated in English that I had just bought a bike and that I would like to register it. She said she would ask for information and disappeared into a back room.

She then spent a good ten minutes looking up information on how and where I could register my bike. I had been told that this was a regular thing, a recommended thing. I thought certainly they would know how to do it. When her colleague, a brunette for whom police work seemed a logical choice, came to help, she asked me a question in Dutch. As I took a breath to answer, the first woman said, "Engles." The second woman looked at me and said, "Oh. English," in what I felt was a somewhat shaming tone. Had I not begun the whole interaction in Dutch?

They ended up giving me a paper with information on it regarding the phone number of the place to go. I am supposed to call and find out when I can go and register. Apparently, it's a few hours on Monday. We'll see.

The new bike rides well. It's got back-pedal breaks and not hand breaks. The hand break bikes were 205. This one was 115. I might splurge for another when I am employed. The guys told me to come back in a month or two so that the spokes on the new tires could be tightened. I hope it's quick and free.

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