Wednesday, April 2, 2008

PLASMA WHAT?

Here she is, my new beauty. We will go far, we will go fast. That is a promise, my friend!


The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines irony in the following way:
Irony: Incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result (2): an event or result marked by such incongruity

Marit's new definition of irony:
Irony: Crashing and breaking part of my back while training in California, on the exact same day my new SCOTT PLASMA bike arrived in Florida. 2) Recovering from said bike crash, unable to ride my new Scott Plasma until my recovery is complete. 3) Having a beautiful, fast, lightweight, wonderful new bike, and being unable to ride the bike.

As many of you who read my blog are aware, yesterday I finally got my new bike. As part of the Elite Zoot Sports Triathlon team, the bike that I am lucky enough to ride and race on this year is the SCOTT PLSASMA. Team Zoot has been so supportive of me after the crash, supportive of my recovery, and I’m so grateful. It makes me want to get back on my bike, recover and race even sooner.

I can’t wait!

Yesterday morning Nathaniel received a call from the owners of the Apartment Homes Complex that we live in (their name for it, not ours. We’re notorious for making fun of the “Apartment Homes” they call it. Something that reminds me of Hyacinth Bucket, pronounced Bouquet, on “Keeping Up Appearances” - a favorite British Comedy of mine). Nathaniel was told that there’s been a “big FedEx box” with my name on it, sitting in the Office since March 18th.

Not just a little box, but a very very big box. So big in fact, that it needed its own wall space…Long and narrow, but big…

My ears perked up immediately.

A Big FedEx Box?

In the Office? Waiting for nearly two weeks???

So close, within reach….and all this while, completely unknown to me. Huh? What’s the deal Mr. FedEx Man?

Something was said about a “TV”. I shrugged it off immediately. We already have one great TV, thank-you-very-much, we don’t need another (practical side of me speaking. 2 TVs? No way. 2 bikes? Yes please!). And unless Nathaniel had gotten trigger-happy while I was recuperating in California, I knew it wouldn’t be another boob-tube. Besides, my husband has a few other loves in his life that top his priority list over a television set, aside from me and Tabbitha – of course.

The list includes, but is not limited to the following: 1) Books 2) The Green Chair 3) Helicopters, Jets and Airplanes 4) Computers. I knew the hubby would rather get another bookshelf of books or a new computer over a new TV any day.

The ladies at the office must have been mistaken. A big TV, my rear-end. But I didn’t say that. My lips were zipped!

Instead, I jumped (as much as I can, which suffice to say, isn’t very fast or far) into action, threw on my Capri pants, slipped on the flip-flops and announced that I was going to head over to the Office to pick up my bike, and if someone strapping, handsome, and strong, wearing a green flight suit could help me out, I would be forever grateful.

Nathaniel, wearing his green flight suit, looking ever so dashingly handsome and strong, was sitting in the Ugly Green Recliner putting on his boots. He looked up at me, could sense how important this was, but couldn’t resist teasing me slightly.

“How much can a bike like that weigh?” He questioned.

I, being the volatile Slav that I am (remember, I’m ½ Czech), announced that, “It’s not heavy, just cumbersome! You wouldn’t want your injured wife lugging a big box all the way down the hill from the Office would you?”

Nathaniel, sensing the urgency of the situation, quickly replied he would be there as soon as he finished lacing up his boots.

It took all of 2 minutes, but felt like an eternity.

I felt like a little kid, waiting for Christmas to arrive. My Big Surprise was waiting, a mere quarter mile away. I could hardly wait. I thought briefly of telling Nathaniel that I was going to set out ahead of time, arrive at the Office before he did, but quickly squashed the idea. What was the point in leaving early, if he would just catch up within a matter of seconds? After all, I’m still recovering – it’s not like I’m a speed walker or anything.

Soon, we were walking hand-in-hand towards the office. Me in my Capri pants, blue shirt, and flip-flops, Nathaniel wearing his flight suit. The walk seemed to take forever, and we joked along the way. We were both excited, both unsure of what exactly would be waiting.

I was hoping that the bike was okay, had arrived unscathed, undamaged.

Nathaniel was hoping that I wouldn’t kill myself setting it up and then hopping on.

It didn’t seem to matter how many times I told him that I would 1) refrain from “hopping on” that 2) I didn’t have any pedals so I could even pedal the darned thing and 3) that I didn’t even know if I could set it up in the first place – he was still nervous for me. The poor guy didn’t want to see me hurt again. He knows how much of an, er, klutz I can be, and doesn’t want me impinging my recovery in any sort of way. Not only would Jen, my parents, and my Mr. Scary Neurosurgeon kill me, but Nathaniel would stand in line as well.

Besides, I'm in no position to "hop". For some reason, I continue to reassure people of this fact, but to little or no avial. Hhhmmmm....

Okay okay – I get it! Don’t you guys trust me???

I WILL NOT do anything to slow my recovery – believe me! That includes “hopping” on my bike. There is no hopping. None. Zero. Zip. Zilch! And believe me – it has been very tempting to set up my bike on the trainer. But I’ve been a very good girl, have stuck to my plan, and am recovering like a rock star. Like a champ. Like a pro! So There. Scouts Honor!

Hand-in-hand, Nathaniel and I walked into the office, he holding the rent cheque, and me, grasping the FedEx ticket that had been so unhelpfully left on our door. Bugger. As Nathaniel gave one of the Office Ladies our cheque, he inquired about the bike. I simply looked around the room, my eyes drawn to the lap pool on the other side of the floor-to-ceiling French Doors. The water looked blue and inviting. Yes – not the “traditional” length of 25 yards, but a pool nonetheless. Fake lane line, and all.

It was all I could do to refrain from breaking through the doors and jumping headlong into the water. Luckily, the knowledge that I had a very special box in the office kept me grounded.

And dry.

A second Office Lady directed us towards the conference room, away from where most of the unclaimed UPS and FedEx deliveries are stashed. The conference room was decked out with a fireplace on one side, a long oak table in the center, chandelier overhead, and a far widows overlooking the short lap pool. The walls were painted a cheery yellow, the woodwork painted stark white, and the wooden floors creaked under our footsteps. The ceiling was high, and gave the impression of being somewhere grand.

If only their “Apartment Homes” were the same, we would be happy.

And then, immediately in front of us as we entered the room, was The Box. It was plain and beautiful, all at the same time. Plain, because of the outward appearance, but beautiful for what was hidden away within. And I could hardly contain my excitement.

Luckily, there were other people in the room, which saved me from whooping out loud. I was hesitant to enter, as two younger girls were signing a lease, and one unfamiliar Office Lady was supervising their lease signing.

Unfamiliar Office Lady must have been in her mid-fifties. Years of tanning on the beach had taken their toll, and she was heavily made up. The light peach-colored pants suit looked like it was something that Blanch would wear on “The Golden Girls” (sorry that I know that), but then again I reminded myself, this is Florida. Her penciled eyes narrowed and she pursed her lips and Nathaniel and I quietly entered the room.

She looked at us, looked at the Bike Box, and then looked at us again.

“That TV has been there for nearly two weeks!” she exclaimed, clearly perturbed by the fact that a perfectly good TV could go for nearly two weeks without being plugged in.

She sat back in her chair and gave us a scathing look.

“Oh, it’s not a TV,” I explained, my voice full of excitement. “It’s a bike!”

The SCOTT BIKES USA stamp was clearly visible on the side of the box.

“That’s not what they said. They said it was a TV. It says Plasma.” She shot back, her eyes bulging. Clearly she knew her stuff. Or so she thought. The flush in her cheeks was now much darker than her peachy pants suit. Even though she was sitting, she lifted her chin in defiance.

Perhaps she was confused? The thought of a perfectly good, unclaimed TV sitting in her Office for two weeks, now morphing unexplicably into a bike was simply too much.

Nathaniel gave me a sympathetic look, clearly amused by the situation. “Trust us, it’s a bike. We’ve been waiting for it for a few weeks now.”

When in doubt, trust the Man in the Flight Suit.

“Well, as far as I’m concerned, it’s a TV. That’s what they told us. That’s what it is.”

Wow – Office Lady was determined to disagree. And argue. The notion of anything else besides a beloved TV was too much to consider. It didn’t matter that the owner’s of the huge box were declaring said packaged to be a bike. It didn’t matter that on the side of the box, in big bold lettering were the words: SCOTT BIKES USA. It didn't matter that a small secion of bike wheel and black bike spoke, could be seen through one of the handle flaps on the side the box.

No, it was obvious, beyond anything whatsoever to Office Lady, that the box was in fact, a Plasma TV.

My amusement at this woman was quickly turning to bafflement. Was she serious? Could she be genuine in her contention of a television?

Time to take action here. I stepped forward; my feet making the wooden floors creak. My voice resonated loudly in the conference room. (Remember I'm working on being more assertive - but not mean, not in a bad way. Just making myself, my thoughts, my needs, my feelings better known. It's hard for me, but something that I've been working on for a while).

“I assure you, it’s a bike. It’s a bike. I know what I’m talking about, I’m an elite triathlete, and that’s my bike. It’s my new bike. I ordered it a while back, and have been waiting ever since. That’s my new bike.”

Clearly, it was a bike. MY bike, to be exact. I made my point. Or at least, I though I had made my point.

Next to me, Nathaniel shifted and grinned, waiting to hear what Office Lady would say.

She refused to back down. Determined, would be a good adjective at this point.

This was stupid. Heck, it was stupid five minutes ago.

“I don’t know about any bike. It’s a TV.”

“Well, we’ll take our box and leave!” Nathaniel exclaimed while dragging the box out of the room. I remained in the chamber for a second or two, and couldn’t help but stare at Office Lady.

I wasn’t angry, I wasn’t upset; rather I was annoyed, irked. I honestly didn’t know what to make of her. She stared back at me, undoubtedly as unsure of me as I was of her.

I looked at her, in her peach pantsuit, her made up hair and heavy makeup unable to disguise her age, and felt a bit sorry for her. Perhaps TV was the high point of her life. Maybe she couldn’t imagine someone ordering something as big as a bike that wasn’t an actual television. Possibly, her days, evenings, and weekends were spent gathered around her television. Waiting for the next show on her big-screen television.

However, chances are, I was just as much of an anomaly to her as she was to me.

There I stood, my hair in a messy ponytail, veins popping out on my fit arms, wearing clothes that were similar to casual workout clothes, and shoes that cost less than $10. While a bike was the natural solution to me, it was alien to her. For the life of her, she couldn’t imagine why someone would order a bike – what would be the point? She couldn’t imagine a life where long bike rides, sessions on the trainer, and sports in general were a large focus, a large source of happiness and inspiration.

Yes, my life isn’t defined by triathlon, but it’s a big part of what I do, a part of who I am.

I yearn for the long bike rides, love running through the fog and rain, and really enjoy the feeling of completing a great set in the pool.

For Office Lady, her values were different. Which was immedately clear, based on her reaction.

For a brief moment we looked at each other, and then the connection was broken. I thought I understood her, and felt that maybe, just perhaps, she understood me. We were different, two different people with very different priorities. I walked out of the doorway towards Nathaniel, who was waiting with my new bike in the foyer. As I turned, I could help but feel the slightest bit sorry for her.

That is, until she stubbornly hollered, “It’s a TV! They SAID IT WAS A TV!”

Nathaniel nearly choked on himself with laughter. Inwardly I sighed. What can you do?

On the walk back to our apartment, Nathaniel and I carried my new bike. I had to change positions a few times, make sure that back of the cumbersome box didn’t bash against my calves. Nathaniel was very understanding, and very helpful in holding the box steady. We joked about Office Lady, about the stupidity of the conversation, and excitedly discussed my new bike. He was just as excited about it as I was.

Later as I was assembling the Plasma, I reflected over the interlude with Office Lady. It sruck me how bizarre the entire conversation seemed. She was so determined that it should be a TV, whereas I was just as determined to make her understand it was a bike.

Interesting how time passes, we are able to reflect, to ponder.

What did I learn? Well, for starters that when Office Lady thinks that she’s right, she’ll let you know it. If she was on my team and there was an argument of some sort, I would want her going to bat for me. On the other hand, she was stubborn and unyielding.

Yet I was no better.

I can agree to disagree. Our priorities, our ideas, our values are obviously extremely different. I can’t change what she thinks, can’t change her opinion, and obviously can’t change the fact that she believes that a plasma TV was nesting in the box. Heck, even if I rode back and forth in front of the Office window, I doubt she would acknowledge the fact that it could have possibly been a bike.

And if she ordered a Plasma TV, well, at least if the box clearly read “PLASMA TELEVUSION USA”, I could admit that it was indeed a Plasma TV. And not a Scott PLASMA bike.

Sheesh. Maybe her prescription was off (glasses or otherwise).

And that’s okay. I know that not everyone who looks at me, who sees what I do will understand or agree. They don’t experience the same joys, the same rush of emotions, the love, the passion, the satisfaction from a tough day or fantastic race, the ups and downs that I do.

And its exactly for these joys, these ups and downs, the numerous satisfactions, the love that I can’t wait to get back into this sport, to recover, to heal. The early morning swims, the runs along the Gulf, the long rides past green fields and under blue skies are driving my recovery. That will keep me going, that will sustain my love, my hunger, my passion.

And that’s something that no TV, Plasma or not, could ever replace.

(For Danielle and Lelia):



And one more (enjoy Lelia!):


Tabbitha, worn out from admiring the new SCOTT PLASMA, takes a break on the deck furniture. Paws are off the edge, ready and waiting for an unsuspecting bird to land nearby...

14 comments:

Pedergraham said...

Lelia loved the picture AND, even more, seeing her name next to it! And then we had to go look at the picture of the cat with "her Daddy". (Sorry, Nate. It's offical--you are Tabbitha's dad.)
I'm surprised that the Golden Girls Lady didn't listen to Nate. Usually women like her are very responsive to a man in a uniform...(and dismissive of the wife not wearing make up and high heeels!)
-Danielle

Bob Mitera said...

Hillarious! I would have opened the box right in front of her and showed her right there. "See...it is a carbon fiber BIKE!" Then I would have let her off easy by saying something like, "Oh, don't worry. It costs about as much as a plasma TV...or a car."

One of my older colleagues just about died when I told her that my new road bike costs $5,000 at a 50% discount.

Anonymous said...

Marit- I can't get past the Christmas lights! :) hee hee...love the new bike! Jen H.

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

We USE THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS FOR DECORATION!!!! THEY ARE FESTIVE! I'VE ALWAYS LEFT LIGHTS UP ON THE BACK PORCH! BRIDGET JONES HAS CHRISTMAS LIGHTS UP YEAR ROUND!!!

Humph!

I'm not a "typical" Southerner.

Humbug.

They look festive!

Beth said...

OH MY was that woman stubborn!! But I agree - I'd take a Scott Plasma over a plasma screen tv anyday!!

Anyway, you are going to FLYYYYYYY on that bike Marit!! And I can't wait to see it. Or maybe I won't see you...but rather just a blur of speed whizzing by on her plasma tv...er...scott plasma... ;)

Katie Weaver-Jongerius said...

Your bike is ssssoooo beautiful! She's going to fly like the wind when you get back in the saddle!!! YES!!!

Hey, I use Christmas lights for decorating all the time too. Isn't that normal?!

kerri said...

Ok...you can't ride it (yet) but you can sleep with it. I would just lay that gorgeous bike right down and sleep next to it. Call me nuts.

Eric said...

Kerri you're nuts.

We still have our Christmas lights up but haven't turned them on since January. I think thats what training for an April IM will do to your priorities. But it isn't good to leave lights up that can let a raccoon get into your attic (not good times).

-Eric (of Amber and Eric)

Trigirlpink said...

Oh I LOVE kitty staring at your new sweet ride! Very cute...
I think Kitty is saying.. "hummmmmm.. something new at the house LARGER then me... pretty nice."

Mel said...

LOVE IT!!!!!! I think the gray house cat is thinking Hum, well since she can't ride it.....I will take it for a spin :) Or he is thinking...so your a bike and the DAM thing that hurt my MOM!!!!! Your going to find that bike tied up with the XMAS LIGHTS and hanging over your balcony :) You better tell kitty to step away from the BIKE!!!
Keep you blinds shut...you know crazy woman (the one that knows EVERYTHING) will be peeking in your windows checking out that new Plasma TV :)

Anonymous said...

Wow. Marit, all I can say right now is that's a pretty damn nice tv. And I can say that again. That's a pretty damn nice tv. ;-)

Donna!

Sarah said...

Your post CRACKED ME UP. That was great, Marit. What a great write-up. Though I would've been stubborn enough to casually open part of it...maybe to the extend of "perhaps we should take the wheels out to lighten the package..."

I'm not as assertive as I should be, either. Makes life tough sometimes. But I thought your 'agree to disagree' was great. Sometimes you just have to let it go.

I was just writing on Courtenay's blog about how most people outside triathlon/sports are so foreign to our world. They really DON'T get it. I've had old friends who see my Facebook profile say things like "oh, good luck on your marathon!" Marathon? My favorite is "she's doing a half-triathlon!" (You mean half-Ironman?) At least people mean well, in general.

Your observation of the differences were really well-written though. So true.

And of course...CONGRATULATIONS ON THE SWEET SWEET SLED!!!!!!

That is SOOO AWESOME! I'm sure it will only speed your recovery. :)

Greg Remaly said...

I'm agreeing with other comments about opening up the box and showing the stupid lady what's what. you should cruise by the office on the bike and wave at her or something.

very funny story though, and the bike looks great. I'm sure staring at it will help your recovery!

btw, i'm feeling about the same. certainly not fun but a tolerable amount of coughing, sneezing, and sniffing. macca will pay for this.

Ordinarylife said...

I know this is an old post, but I was going through your blog and when I saw this I just had to laugh. I got the exact same bike in December and very excitedly posted in my status on Facebook that I loved my new Scott Plasma. Not long after my brother (whose name just happens to be Scott) phoned me up and asked me what brand my new TV was as he had never heard of it before.

I was a bit confused until I realised he was talking about my bike.