By Brian Canty
“I’ve a small job for you”…
Anyone who’s ever been tricked by an elder (or played the trick) with these words knows exactly how this one works.
For me, it was my dad who ‘got’ me every time, though I became wise to it as the years went by.
“I’ve a small job for you Saturday,” he’d say, maybe giving a wink or a smile as well as if to suggest the job was fun and lucrative.
The job could have been anything; ‘moving’ cattle, dosing cattle, helping to lift washing machines, splitting blocks, picking stones, who knows. One thing I do know is the job was never little and it was never, ever lucrative.
I’d somehow be convinced the work would make me stronger too; ‘Picking stones is the perfect training’ was a line I often heard rolled my way.
I definitely recall hearing it one particularly windy afternoon on a deserted and desolate hillside farm outside Clon in west Cork. ‘How the f*** could this be good training’, I’d mutter.
But I stayed silent because the €20 on offer at the end of the day was my ticket to a place more enjoyable. The less said about that place, the better.
Anyway, it wasn’t all bad; the fry-ups after were always amazing and seeing someone genuinely enjoy what they do is a cool thing. Yes, Dad loves heavy lifting, literally and metaphorically, because it’s rewarding, I guess.
20 years later and the shoe is on the other foot, the location a world away.
Me and the big man (who is supposed to be on holidays, by the way) were at the beach in Tossa de Mar on the Costa Brava when the call comes. It’s urgent.
We’ve half an hour to get home or €15,000 worth of carbon fibre will be left on the street by the courier.
We pack away our pasty bodies and floor it to Girona only to see a fiery little Mexican having a coronary outside my house, furious I’m not there to collect my cache of goods.
Dad would crush him with one fist – but he’d struggle against the army of angry Catalans who are hooting horns, swearing and unleashing general rage as their street has been blocked.
We live on the seventh floor on Carrer de la Creu, a usually peaceful street just across the river from the Old Town.
Today, there is bedlam. Traffic is down to one lane, a Mexican courier has been delayed and 10 huge boxes arouse massive suspicion from the old folk who inhabit this corner of paradise.
To compound matters, the lift is broken and each box must be carried individually to the seventh floor, in 30 degree heat, by a man in his late fifties who is supposed to be on holidays.
And then it hits me…excuse the pun folks, but the wheel has come full circle; ‘Dad, I’ve a small job for you’…
He knows what’s next. He doesn’t hesitate. He doesn’t hide. He doesn’t squirm or yawn. He doesn’t draw up a written contract about employee rights. He doesn’t moan ‘it’s surely time for a break now’.
He rolls up the sleeves of his shirt, and then takes it off. He ferries bike after bike to my seventh-floot apartment, one at a time, while I keep sketch and keep my neighbours sweet.
‘That’s great training for you Dad’….‘Better than any gym’….‘Nobody ever drowned in their own sweat’…‘Hard work never killed anybody’….I really pushed the limits of his patience when I think back.
It was a proud moment. And not just for us at Eat Sleep Cycle.
Come join us some time. Those bikes are ready for road!