The bike that William won at the fair was a full sized men's bike. It still had the tags on it, the instructions dangled from the handle bars, and the wheels still had the paper inside the spokes. We figured that we could swap it for a new kid's bike.
But the store would not take it back without a receipt.
We contacted the group that gave it away. They would have come out about $40 ahead on the deal. But they never contacted us back.
I got the idea to put a post on facebook explaining the situation. If a man was looking to buy a new bike for himself, he could get one and save about $40 by simply buying a little boy a bike and working an even steven swap with us. Winner winner, chicken dinner.
Within minutes, someone was wanting to buy that bike for William. We met with them at the store, and William picked out his bike and he was a very excited little boy. The man said, "You need a light for that bike. Safety first. And so William got a light too.
The only fly in the ointment was that the couple refused the bike. We debated it, but they were adamant. "Pay it forward," they said.
It's been troubling me. I felt pretty guilty about how it all shook out.
Fast forward two weeks later.
Our church had our worship outside in the park. We had a pot luck, followed by a few hours of live music. Sitting at the hospitality table I noticed a young man wander in and sit quietly listening to the music. Later on, when I went inside to use the bathroom, the young man was getting a water.
I pointed towards the next room. "We've got a bunch of food in there, go fix yourself a plate."
He stood stock still and said, "Is it free?"
"Sure is," I said. "Go fix a plate." And he did. I saw him going back for seconds.
He came over and said, "Is there coffee anywhere?" I said, "I can make you a pot." So I did.
Outside again, I watched him return to the church several times for coffee.
He just kind of stuck in my mind. I wondered what his story was. Then suddenly, it popped in my mind that he needed a bike. It would not go away. I tried to get someone else to talk to him about it, but in the end, I got up and did it myself.
I said, "Hey, can I ask how you get around?"
He said, "I walk."
I said, "Would you like a bike?"
He looked at me like it was a trick question. He finally said that he would.
I said, "Come on."
We went to my car and I drove him home. He was very quiet, but he did ask, "What size is this bike?" Still a bit mistrustful of what was happening I think. I told him it was a 26 incher, and he was quiet again. I live about five minutes from church, and when we pulled into the driveway, I walked into the garage to pull it out. He said, "This is brand new!" I told him the story behind it.
I went into the house to get a pair of scissors to cut the tags off. When I came out he was struggling to fit his pop bottle full of coffee into the frame. I said, "Wait a minute." I went inside to get a bottle that had a loop to go over the handle bar.
He was gobsmacked. He thanked me and then he was gone.
Later, I messaged the people who'd given William his new bike. I told them what happened next. They both cried.
At that point, so did I.