My friend Jon (who was a Today’s Nice Stranger when I originally met him on Atlanta’s Edgewood Avenue — here’s that story) took a metaphoric Leap of Faith when he gave me a bike he found in the garbage and fixed up a few years ago. I named that bike Magic (that story’s in my book), and she’s been spreading magic ever since.
Yesterday, Jon took a literal leap of faith (130 pounds less than when I first met him when he went by the name Big Jon, by the way) when I went to his eclectic home to pick up another bike in the tiny old resort city of Mountain Park, Georgia (a rustic, charming, frozen-in-time kind of place that was abandoned by rich folks when man-made Lake Lanier was created by the building of the Buford Dam in 1956).
I had asked Jon online if he might have one for Diana, my student who moved to the United States from Venezuela alone at age 16 and who just last Tuesday learned how to ride a bike for the first time in her life and has already been whipping around Piedmont Park since then.
He said he did, and when I asked him how much it would cost, he replied, “This was gonna be thrown away because bike shops no longer fix bent deraileurs. Well, they gave it to me and I was gonna give it to my neighbor but she just wants a coaster bike, so I said who could use this bike ? Then your cry for help popped up.” He asked for nothing*.
Jon rescues bikes. He’s been doing it since he was a kid, from the dump in rich Sandy Springs. Jon also has a history of rescuing houses and people, and he spent forty years with his twin sister caring for his ill mother, who died last year, right there in the very home in Mountain Park where he grew up. He showed me where the garden was, and the chickens, and the rabbits. He showed me the bikes in various states of functionality as far as the eye could see, from which he harvests parts to create new, usable models. He told me:
“There’s no drug I could take that would be better than the feeling I get when I’m fixing a bike.”
The old van he used to transport his mother sits in the front of the house. Jon is thinking of turning it into a mobile bike repair business. He’s thinking of setting up a page online to sell his refurbished bikes. He’s thinking of who he can rescue next through the miracle machine known as a bike.
A man of deep conviction who quotes scripture often, it’s not hard to see that he’s, of course, thinking of his next Leap of Faith.
* Here’s Diana’s new bike. Stay tuned for an update after I get it to her! (Note: I can’t ask Jon for any more free bikes. Hang tight while he gets his biz up and running and I’ll post the link to that for you. He will most likely be offering very good deals.)