September 30, 2014

Lessons Learned

Deuth,-Dave-colorBy David W. Deuth, CFSP
President, Weerts Funeral Home

I didn’t have my driver’s license yet, so I was relegated to making my way around town on my bike. Although I was a freshman at the time, I was a “high-schooler” – and I suddenly realized that my bike needed some serious updating. It was yellow with lime green handlebar wrap, for crying out loud, the paint was faded and rusted, and the handlebars were, well….they were lime green. It was time for a change.

I disassembled the entire 10-speed myself, taking off both wheels, the chain drive, the seat and the handlebars. I carefully disassembled the brake calipers and was left with just the frame. That faded, rusted yellow frame…

Fortunately for my plight, my dad had an amazing device in his shop called a glass bead machine. It was designed to spray micronic particles of crushed glass – under the pressure of compressed air – to function much like a very fine sand blaster. And fortunately for me, my bike frame fit inside the cabinet of the glass bead machine.

I took great pleasure in spraying away the scratched and faded yellow paint that was the bane of my 10-speed in the high school bike rack. With every swipe of the glass bead gun, another layer of paint disappeared and I was imagining the very cool and up-to-date look my bike would have “when I was done with it.” Boy, was it going to be a beauty!

The glass beading didn’t take as long as I thought it would. Before long, the frame emerged from the glass bead cabinet, a paintless and drab silver-gray, ready for the color of my chosing. After the primer dried, I settled on a very appealing metal-flake, midnight blue paint for the top-coat. Dad taught me how to spray paint the right way – and let me paint it myself. No runs and no sags on this updated 10-speed, no sir.

The paint turned out perfect. I had lightly sanded and rubbed steel-wool on the dried finish between coats; the third and final coat felt smooth as glass when I was finished. And man, did it sparkle in the sun! I couldn’t WAIT to pull this beauty up to the bike rack at school once I got it all put back together.

This is where I suppose I should admit that putting the bicycle back together took MUCH more time than taking it apart. (Any honest guy will tell you it’s always this way.) I got new tires for the rims and a new seat. Dad assisted me with proper tensioning on the chain drive and the brakes. Carefully, I wrapped the handlebars with black handlebar tape (I realize this dates me), popped the plugs in the end of the handlebars and adjusted the seat. It looked like a brand new bike, and it was MINE.

After nearly an entire Saturday’s work putting it back together, the maiden voyage around the block was smitten somewhat with pride. I called my friend, Steve and proudly told him my bike was finished, and that we should head out for a ride. Minutes later, we were enjoying the beautiful autumn weather on our bikes.

Although our hometown has very few roads that could be considered “hills,” we did manage to navigate to a street that, on a bicycle at least, had enough decline to build up a pretty good road speed. This, in and of itself, was not a problem. The problem was the otherwise unknown large pot-hole in the street directly in front of me while I was building up speed on the descent. With only a split second to decide the best course of action, I instinctively stood up and attempted to sway my body in tandem with the bike so as to miss the pot-hole entirely.

This, for the record, did not happen.

As I stood up, my foot slipped forward from one of the pedals and lodged itself in the front wheel . . . which very promptly flipped me – and my one-of-a-kind very cool 10-speed bike – to the pavement in approximately a nanosecond.

As one might expect, I was a little slow to get up. Scraped and bloody with road rash, I could only gaze in slow-motion and forlorn disappointment at my very cool 10-speed bike. The brand new handlebar wrap was scraped, ripped and torn; one edge of the handlebar itself was scraped flat. The front wheel was mangled, and the very awesome paint was scraped in numerous places. A very kind lady in the neighborhood helped me get my bike in the trunk of her car, and she drove me directly to the clinic, where my mom worked for one of our local physicians; no sutures needed this time.

My very cool 10-speed bike didn’t make it to the high school bike rack at all that autumn. It was back in the shop, and I walked to school or hitched a ride with Dad on his way to work. All in all, a humbling experience.

Recently, I overheard someone reference the well-known Old Testament Proverb “…pride goeth before….a fall.” Just as quickly as I heard it, I was reduced to reliving that beautiful autumn day when, smitten with pride for my very cool 10-speed bike, what indeed followed next was quite a fall.

There’s something to learn in every life experience; I believe the lesson of the day for me on this one was humility.

Remember Well.

David W. Deuth, CFSP, is a funeral director and is the owner of Weerts Funeral Home in Davenport and RiverBend Cremation and Quad Cities Pet Cremation Bettendorf. He can be reached at (563) 424-7055 or by email at Dave@WeertsFH.com.

Filed Under: Personal Growth