Tuesday, June 5, 2018

A rear-view mirror

You might expect with a title like "rear-view mirror" that this post will be reflecting on things gone by.  But it isn't, except in a literal sense.  It is actually about a rear view mirror.

Ever since I came to Nigeria, my Grandpa has been asking me if I have a bike and if I ride it here.  My Grandpa bikes hundreds of miles each year. So does my dad.  When I am in the U.S., I do to.  (Well dozens of miles, maybe?) But until recently, I always answered my Grandpa "Well, in Nigeria I mostly just run."  However, finally I decided to buy a bike for myself.

It is just a cheap second hand bike, but I have had so much fun fixing it up with the things I need to enjoy riding here: a rack, a kickstand, a helmet, a longer post for the seat, a bell, and ... a rear view mirror.  The last two are essential here.  The bell warns pedestrians, taxis, buses, motorized rickshaws... anyone in front of me that I am coming. Nigerians are used to the bell and they all know what it means.  However, the rear-view mirror was not so simple.

I didn't have any problem communicating with my bike mechanic in the market about all the other parts.  A rack is a "carrier", a bell and a helmet were readily available, and they were even happy to weld a new longer seat post for me.  But when it came to the helmet mirror, all he could find were handlebar mirrors--much too big to attach to a helmet!   I rode across the market to where the window manufacturers work.  I described what I wanted, and they cut me a small piece of mirror.  Back with my bike mechanic friend, I asked for a piece of old spoke, which he helped me to tie on to my helmet with an old piece of rubber tire.  We bent it and attached the small mirror.  It was perfect!

Whenever Nigerians see it they are surprised.  What is this?  Such a small mirror?  Can you see anything with it?  Do you look at it with only one eye?  (Well, I hadn't thought of that before.  Yes, I only use my left eye.)  What is this strange thing?

It may draw attention, but it works perfectly.  Now I can see the traffic coming up behind me, and stay safe on the road!

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