The Media Room, The Men’s Room, and The Coat Hanger

I feel like I’ve been away for days. Oh, wait, I have been away for days. We left home last Sunday, and here it is now, the following Monday. The van, packed with bikes and wheels and other flotsam, is parked at the Comfort Inn in Pennsylvania, where we are spending the night after 10 hours on the road, having left North Carolina and the 2016 Cyclocross Nationals.

The Biltmore did the Nationals proud. The organization, from my perspective, was perfect; I loved the venue, the Big House, the pits with a view of some of the race, even the mud. Everything operated smoothly until…

I locked the car key in the cab of the rental van. On Sunday, a half-hour before the Elite Women’s race. Since the back of the van was open, this shouldn’t be a big deal. But alas, this cargo van had a metal grate between the cab and the back. Just in case we wanted to transport prisoners, you know.

At first Richie and I thought we’d unscrew the million and a half bolts that held the grate in place. But they were cranky and we didn’t have the time. Then Richie thought about using a long piece of wire to use as a grab hook to ensnare the key (because we could see it plainly enough, on the dashboard.) Only trouble was, no coat hanger. I went to find one.

Nothing at the clothes vendors, nothing in the Van Dessel bus, nothing in the Antler Village shops. I was just on my way to Registration to see if they could contact security, when a man with a media badge intercepted me and told me that he liked reading my blog. Well, that’s a nice thing to hear! I would have loved to talk more, especially since he was telling me about his wife who helped restore the tapestries at Biltmore (and being a weaver, this is fascinating) but I’m afraid I interrupted him, and told him I really needed to find a metal coat hanger. Oh, he said, there’s one in the men’s room of the Media room. We ran to the Media room. I waited in the vestibule as he got the coat hanger. I thanked him–I hope profusely–and ran back to the van. Triumphant, I waved it in the air as I skidded to a stop in front of Richie, who dangled the key in front of me.

“It’s all set,” he said. “I taped two of these wire place markers together and used that.”

I had briefly thought of that as I had glanced at them on my way to find a coat hanger, but I thought the joint would be too wobbly and the key would fall to the floor and become even more inaccessible. So I didn’t try it. Or even mention it. But Richie did, and I admire his willingness to take that chance.

“Faith replaces doubt in my philosophy,” Philippe Petit once said. Wise words, indeed, even for the more mundane challenges in life.

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