A solitary figure on a bike finds his way through the darkness, hearing only the hum of the tires on the pavement. A lone rider, appearing as a silhouette in the moonlight, moving closer to his destination with each pump of the pedals from his muscular legs; on his way to a job he almost didn’t get.
Having dependable transportation is usually a concern an employer might ask about; hoping a potential employee could get to the job everyday and on time. Rarely, if ever, had anyone ever offered to ride a bike 23 miles one-way, not only to be on the job, but on time as well.
This is exactly what this lone rider had done. Having no car and desperately needing income to feed his family, he was willing to ride his bike 23 miles one way to get to work and willing to take a dollar cut in starting pay if hired. An astonishing commitment to say the least but this young man needed the job and was ready to do whatever it took to have a chance to prove to his new boss that he was dependable.
He knew the weather would be a challenge; the heat, the cold, the rain and anything else Mother Nature could throw at him. The roads he must travel on his bike would be crowded with traffic; vehicles with drivers who may already be running late; focusing on that one fact rather than looking out for a rider on a bike who had started out long before the driver’s alarm went off. This rider who has found his way in the darkness with very few on the road, is now experiencing daylight and a crowded highway.
The thoughts in his head are as scrambled as the eggs he didn’t have time to eat. Twenty-three miles is a long way on a bike; he wondered if he could do it and be on the new job on time as he said he would. He thought back to the interview. What else could he have said; what other choice did he have. The money was gone and he had a wife and three kids to take care of. No matter how hard he tried to get ahead, it seemed there was always something waiting to knock him down; to push him back.
He heard the words come out of his mouth, “I’ll take a dollar less to start and I’ll be on time; just give me a chance to prove myself.” Desperate words for desperate times, he thought as he moved through the early morning air, already thick with humidity. He recalled the potential employer’s response; “I’ll give you the job Jon, but I need you here on time.” On time; two words that rang through his thoughts; “I need you here on time.” Jon knew he could ride a bike twenty-three miles; what he didn’t know was how long it would take him.
After all, he wasn’t a marathon man anymore. Truth be known, he hadn’t been on a bike much in the past 2 or 3 years. Always had one “Junker” or another around; nothing of any account, but they ran; until now. “Sometimes you have to do what you have to do,” he thought. He hadn’t quit on anything yet, and didn’t figure he was going to start now.
It has been over three hours since he left home. His legs were numb now, but still moving the pedals as if they had switched to some mechanical mode, driven by sheer determination and the courage to do what you have to do. The time seemed to pass without notice with so many thoughts going through his head.
Looking down the road, Jon saw his destination, his new job; a job he never thought he’d get. Now all he has to do is keep it. He had made it and on time, and with a few minutes to spare. He knew the ride home after work wouldn’t be as tough, he could take his time. He had kept his word; he was on time. He smiled as he walked to the front door; a smile that said “I did it.” Tomorrow he would do it again, but for now, he would enjoy the moment. Today was his.
He was a very determined young man.
In August 2009, Jon was diagnosed with cancer; in his case, nothing could be done. He accepted the terminal diagnosis with courage and determination. Fifteen months later, at age forty-five, Jon passed away. He left behind his wife, three children and a new grandbaby. Jon’s faith and courage became his epitaph for us all. Whether a twenty-three mile bike ride or a battle with cancer; Jon never gave in, never gave up, never quit. He showed, by example, what can be achieved in the face of adversity.
I write Jon’s story because he was my son.
Copyright © 2010 LeRoy Dean All Rights Reserved