Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Big Wheel in the Big City

There are a lot of interesting-looking people in Chicago.  People with piercings everywhere you can imagine.  Hair every color of the rainbow.  And don't even get me started on the variety of clothing choices that litter the Loop each day.  But generally, no matter how one is dressed or what their hair looks like, the city is welcoming.  Everyone goes about their own business, without anyone approaching them or making comments on their appearances. 

Unless, apparently, you are carrying this:

 Last week, in my pencil skirt and three- inch heels, I carried a 16 inch, pink, purple and lime green big wheel across the Loop.  And everybody - EVERYBODY - had something to say about it.  From, " I see you drove into work today" to "At least you're prepared for another train delay," everyone had a comment about the big wheel.  It was especially popular at work, as partners would come into my office and stumble upon the trike.  It was a true test of each partner's wit as they came to face to face with the big wheel and were challenged to channel their thoughts from discovery deadlines to funny one-liners. 

But most surprising were the comments I received after I left my office and carted the big wheel across the Loop to the train station.  Honest to God, for most of my walk I walked directly next to a guy with hot pink spiked hair, wearing red pants so ripped I don't know how they stayed on him who was completely covered in blue body glitter.  And yet, at least ten people came up to me to comment on the big wheel.  Yes, people.  I was the odd one. 

Of course this post begs the question of why there was a big wheel in my office.  The answer is simple: price.  Big wheels are expensive.  More expensive than you might imagine.  I'll give you a second to Google it.  Go ahead.  Google "original 16 inch big wheel".  With shipping, most big wheels are about $100.  $100 for a big wheel.  Insane. 

Back in 2008, when KJ got his big wheel, they were available new at Target for about $30.  And in my opinion, that's the perfect price for them.  KJ loves his big wheel, rides it every day, and refers to it as his motorcycle.  But a big wheel isn't a bike.  It's a bunch of plastic formed into a super cool toy.  It is not worth $100.  But Sweet Pea was in desperate need of a riding toy.  Despite how much she has grown, Sweet Pea still cannot reach the pedals of a ten-inch bike.  And she is too big for a traditional tricycle.  The big wheel is the perfect solution.  Except the aforementioned price.

So I went to Craig's List.  There are a number of big wheel knock-offs on Craig's List.  I don't care how any poster describes it, those tiny little Fisher Price toys are not big wheels.  Big wheels are trikes, with the big front wheels and adjustable seats.  Some even have hand brakes.  I wanted Sweet Pea to have that kind of a big wheel: something that she could use now, but that would also last for a while.  The 16 inch big wheel (same size as KJ's) seemed perfect. 

But apparently, 16 inch big wheels are few and far between.  I looked and I looked and I looked until I found one - in a south suburb super far from my house.  But luck was with me, and a colleague of mine (a single, 20-something male colleague, for the record), lived near said big wheel and agreed to pick it up for me and bring it to work.  And so, I came to have a big wheel in the big city. 

Bringing the big wheel home was entertaining.  Overall, people were friendly about it and it made for some good conversation.  (Ahem, except for that incident with Metra where I was kicked off for having a "bike" on the train).  As amused as most people where, I think most understood my predicament.  We parents would do anything for our kids.  And I had a little girl at home with her heart set on a pink and purple big wheel. 

Due to my Metra incident, it was late when I finally made it home with the big wheel.  But Sweet Pea's reaction made everything worthwhile.  She was so happy to get her own "motorcycle" and she was SO happy it was pink.  She rode that thing in the dark in front of our house until we made her go inside.  And she's ridden it every day since.  I made her just as happy with a $10 big wheel as I could have with the $100 one.  But if I had just bought the $100 big wheel, I would have missed out on a pretty great memory as a parent.  Enjoy your big wheel, Sweet Pea.  I'll cherish the memory of bringing it to you. 


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