I don’t know why I do this to myself, but I decided to mention to a co-worker and fellow bike rider that I patched a flat tire the night before. But I didn’t stop there, I went on to mention that it was the 5th patch on that same tube (I even showed him a picture of the proudly warn piece of rubber). His response to me and the three other people in the conversation: “BNL is probably worth more than anyone in this office, and he won’t spend 5 bucks on a new tube.” (Of course, he didn’t call me BNL…)
OK, I lied. I do know why I put myself in these positions. It’s because I’m not ashamed of saving money or lessening the amount of crap I send to landfills. Maybe it’s because of my increased confidence and support I’ve felt from the minor success/support of this website, or maybe it’s because I’m proud of my new outlook on life – but either way, I’m no longer burdened with hiding who I am or the actions I take. Not specifically proud, but more importantly, not ashamed.
In this specific case, I decided to defend myself and my decision to patch flats using my Core Principles of the Brave New Life. I started with the Core Principle #3, Frugality, Sustainability, and Self-Sufficiency. I started with frugality:
Me: Why would I spend money on a new tube when I can patch it myself in under 20 minutes?
Him: Dude, tubes are like $5.
Me: But a patch is about 10% of that. And like I said, I can do it in under 20 minutes and most of that time is removing and reinserting the tube itself, something I’d still have to do with the new tube.
Him: I can run over to Walmart and pick you up 5 tubes, then you’ll have them on hand.
Me: OK. But I bet I can patch 5 tubes faster than you can drive to Walmart, pick out the tubes, wait in the checkout line, and drive back. And besides, I’m patching a very high quality tube compared to the $5 tube you speak of.
Him: Whatever, man.
Clearly this was going nowhere. Judging by his response of “whatever,” I may have won the debate but still I hadn’t convinced him. I could have then directed the argument towards the joys of self-sufficiency, but I knew my audience and I knew this factor held no value to him. Hell, I’m surprised he hadn’t just told me to buy a whole new bike to solve my problem. So next I pressed on ahead with the sustainability argument:
Me: Besides, patching a tube means one less tube in the landfill and one less tube being manufactured in some pollution ridden factory in China.
Him: It’s 1 small piece of rubber!
Me: Well, technically now it would be 5. But hey, if you don’t care about the quality of the water your kids drink, or the air they breathe, then I’ll do what I can to protect them.
We’re friends, so I knew he wouldn’t take this as me saying he’s a bad dad. In fact he’s a great and loving dad of 2-year old twins, which then led me to my final argument.. Core Principle #4, Nurture Your Relationships.
Me: But seriously, man. My kids have a blast helping me patch a tire. They get to help me remove the tire and take out the tube. Then we have some fun pumping it up and listening for the air escaping from the hole. Usually it’s tough to pinpoint, so they get to run upstairs and fill the bathtub a few inches so we can submerge the tube, pump air into the tire, and search for the bubbles. Usually we spend 10-15 minutes up there just messing around, with the two kids taking turns with one of them working the pump and the other finding the bubbles and pinpointing the hole. Eventually I have to drag them away so we can finish the job. They love it.
Him: OK, I get it. I was just messing with you man…
Me: Plus, they’re learning to be more self-sufficient (I had to add that in), and how to solve problems. Everybody wins!
At this, he relented. And this time, it wasn’t a “whatever,” he actually seemed like he would patch a tire with his kids the next time he got a flat. I like winning arguments as much as the next guy, but the real victory here was that I secretly spread the values I live by while having a little fun along the way.
I think there are two ways to live a brave new life. The first is to hide your differences, do what you can to fit in, and just pass the test. There’s nothing wrong with this. The second is to dare to be different, challenge the unchallenged, and be proud of who you are and the way you choose to live your life. This is the way I’ve chosen to do it.