Aidan's bike got a flat tire. Or, to put it more accurately, when one of Shay's friends tried to do some tricks on Aidan's bike, he popped the tire.
So today, after work, and after Kyra's doctor appointment, but before I went home to make cupcakes for Shay's school, I took the bike to the local Mr. Fix-It. (Yes, I'm trying to make the not-so-subtle point that I'm a busy, busy woman.)
Mr. Fix-It sets up shop just down the street from our compound most every day, and if your bike or other wheeled-contraption breaks down, you just drag it over to him and he fixes it right up, there on the street corner, for a nominal fee.
He fixes lots of other things, too, as you can see from the advertisement painted on the side of his motorcycle. (Also, an aside - the blurry quality of the photos is not my fault this time! That's really what the air looked like all day: a little fog, a little smoke, a little gawd-knows-what, all mixed together into a noxious brew you might describe as "air," for lack of a better word. That's what we're breathing over here.)
He and his friends were playing cards and drinking tea out of jars when I approached, but they stopped the game to watch while he fixed up Aidan's bike.
It only took a few minutes to replace the inner tube. And as you can see from the pictures below, he made no attempt to move away from the road to work. Oncoming cars were simply expected to avoid hitting him. Which they did.
I paid him 35 RMB for his work, or $5. You just know I got ripped off, as a local Chinese would have paid significantly less, but who am I to argue? It would've cost a lot more in the States. As I was leaving, I tossed out a "Happy New Year" in Chinese. For some reason, even though the entire transaction up until then had been conducted in Chinese, this Happy New Year shocked the heck out of the onlookers. "Did you hear that?" one person asked him. "She said 'Happy New Year!'" And they all stood in silence, watching me walk away with the bike.
A minute later, though, they were back to chatting amongst themselves and Mr. Fix-It was already helping his next customer, a woman who came walking up leading a broken-down moped.