In My Own Words

A Boy, His Bike, and a Kind Stranger

by | Nov 1, 2017

It was about 30 years ago that I became fully acquainted with the kind of students who come to Davidson College. My older son, 10-years old at the time, was free to ride his bicycle all over town, as were his friends, and they set off to explore the campus early one soft spring morning.

Since this was before the advent of the cell phone, we did not have him on a tether, but he knew people up and down Concord Road. I was confident that he could find help from one of our friends, if the need arose. However, help that morning came from a different quarter. My son was near Chambers building when the chain flew off his bicycle. He and his friends had not a clue about how to fix it.

The time drew nigh for him and his buddies to be home and he asked one of them to call me. Now all alone, he looked up to see the smiling face of a Davidson student who assessed the situation. The student asked if he could help, and he walked him and the bike up to his third-floor dormitory room to retrieve his bike repair equipment.

With dispatch, the student fixed the chain, walked my son back down the stairs, and sent him on his way. If the student mentioned his name, my son did not remember it. But he did remember how nicely the young man treated him, even buying him a soft drink from the dorm’s vending machine.

As promised, those friends called me about my son’s predicament. I was climbing into my car when he wheeled to a stop in front of me. Had he fixed his own bike? Instead, he was excited to tell me about the student who showed him a real college dorm room and bought him a Coke and watched him to be sure that his bike worked perfectly.

I was never able to thank this anonymous student or bake him the brownies that I had in mind. I couldn’t find him. But I believe that he was, and is, typical of the kind of student who relates to our campus and our town, the kind of student who would notice a stranded 10-year old and his busted bicycle, the kind of student who would lug the bike up three flights of stairs, take the time to comfort the boy, fix the bike, and send the boy home.

Many Davidson students have passed through our lives in our forty years of living here. We cherish these relationships and their profound presence in our small town. I imagine that other young boys and girls have seen similar examples of kindness and generosity.

Thank you to that student, our very own bicycle repair genie, who rescued that 10-year-old and gave us a model of goodness without reward. You are a part of our family story. Maybe your own kids came to Davidson. I hope so. I bet that they are as nice as you.

I don’t care if a reader hates one of my stories, just as long as he finishes the book.
~Roald Dahl

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