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The Coolest People Aren’t Selfish

I’ll be the first to admit it – when it comes to typical Americans, I’m pretty jaded. As a general whole, our culture in the US is very self-centered and “me first,” as can be seen from the way we view work to our politics. Having spent about half my life in the developing world, I’m always saddened by this back home because it’s amazing how people with (what we perceive as) very little are so much more willing to share.

One of the things I love about traveling is meeting people who let you intersect with their lives for just a brief moment, bringing you into their bubble in a way that many of us wouldn’t normally do to strangers. Something about the romance of being on the road seems to open people up to things outside themselves and as you get to encounter some of the coolest people (or, perhaps it’s just that this willingness to engage with a stranger is what makes them the coolest people and I just randomly bump into them while traveling).

I’ve met many great people on this trip, from Geoff in Fairbanks to the crew at Robert Service in Whitehorse and a bunch of totally awesome people at random points on the road – as evidenced by the many, many signatures and writings on my bike. So far, though, nothing tops the incredible hospitality and generosity I received from Jake & Nick at Fritz Repair in Seattle.

It started when I asked Jake if he’d be willing to take a look at Red on Monday, since I’d be leaving Vancouver Sunday morning. He said he didn’t normally open on Monday, but he’d be happy to come in at 10AM to meet me and give Red a full health check – awesome!

I arrived in Seattle late Sunday night and rode through the entire town to a state park on the south end only to find that it was closed. Without many options, I booked a hotel on Priceline down on the south side, but screwed up and got it for two nights – no worries, I’ll just putz around Seattle after the service on Monday.

I showed up at Fritz Repair to find out that not only did Jake come in, but Nick, the other guy who works there, also came in on his day off. They proceeded to tear into Red and quickly found a major problem with the engine. This turned into a long ordeal with a complete engine rebuild that I’m almost sick of talking about, but the incredible thing here is that Jake let me crash at his shop for the rest of the week and that the guys let me putz around the shop watching them work all week.

I learned a ton that week, but the highlight was definitely hanging out with these guys and be welcomed into their lives for a bit. It’s such a cool thing to run into great people and I’m almost glad my engine popped just because it was such a great experience.

So, many thanks to Jake & Nick, you guys rock! Also thanks to your girlfriends for putting up with the impact on your schedules and time, and your customers for not trippin’ about some out-of-towner taking up a lift all week. Mad thanks to Bob at the marina for the boat ride, Jesse for the company, and Collin, Iain, and Jason for the music. It was a fantastic week!

Now I just gotta make it home without another *pop*…


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