Friday, November 11, 2011

The Colonel

I never knew his full name, and I doubt that he was actually a Colonel, but the old guy who dug through the dumpsters behind Campus Cyclery was ex-military.  He wore full camouflage battle fatigues and combat boots, with a beret on his head, every day.  In the middle of the summer, he would pull off the blouse of his uniform, and wear a sleeveless camo t-shirt.

He rode a bike, with a huge trailer attached, everywhere he went.  All of his worldly possessions were in that trailer, strapped to the bike, or on him. 

I went out back, one day, and the Colonel was rummaging through the dumpster.

"I'm sorry," he said, and backed away from the metal container.

"No problem,"  I said to him.  "Are you looking for anything in particular?"

He told me that he scrounged worn parts for his bike (the parts we threw away were often in better shape than what he had on his bike), and he was looking for some spokes to fix a wonky wheel on his trailer.

I measured the spokes on his wheel, and went inside.  I came back out and gave him a dozen spokes to fit his wheels.  He didn't want to take them, for free, so I asked him to clean up the area around the dumpsters, as payment.

I talked to him a few times after that.  He summered in Denver and, around the end of August, he would ride south and east, to end up in Florida for the winter.  Apparently, he had family here, and in Orlando.  He was too proud to ask them for a place to stay, but he liked to be near them.

In the years since I left Campus, I've seen Bill (that's his given name) around the area a lot, during warm weather.  I suppose he's probably in Florida for the winter, at his point.

Wherever he is, I hope he is doing okay.


1 comment:

As always, sorry about the word verification. It's a necessary evil, unfortunately.