This is the main bathroom at the bike shop where I have worked since 1995.
I began working at Citybikes in April of 1995. By November of 1995 I was invited to become an owner in the co-op. I remained an owner, working longer hours and carrying the weight of the co-op on my shoulders, until December 1998 when I gave up my ownership in order to return to college and finish my degree. I remained employed at Citybikes as a non-owner and worked my way through school, then worked full-time until July of 2001, when I boarded a train and headed east for graduate studies.
I returned to Portland in February of 2002, and worked at a non-profit that year. The non-profit unceremoniously laid me off on New Year's Eve 2002. I spent the next six weeks caring for my father, until his death in February 2003.
I was invited to return to Citybikes in March of 2003. I needed the job and felt ready to return to the for-profit bike industry. I returned, and in August of that year I was invited to consider applying for ownership again. There were a few fits and starts in the process -- I was the first owner sho had left ownership and then applied to return -- but I was voted back in as an owner in March of 2004.
In all this time, I have carried the weight of the co-op on my shoulders and worked as hard as I could. Other than nearly two decades of serious life lessons, an admirable set of mechanical skills and some good relationships forged along the way, I have little else to show for my time in the bicycle industry. If there is blame to be placed for this reality, it lies in equal parts at the feet of Citybikes, the bicycle industry, and me.
This year I knew it was time to stop carrying so much of that weight.
Today I am handing in my written notice of intent to resign my ownership share in the co-op.
I will stop being an owner on September 1.
If the co-op wants me to stick around I will remain as a part-time worker; Citybikes will become my secondary employer and the synagogue where I work as a musician and teacher will become my primary employer. If the co-op does not want me to stick around past September -- a doubtful scenario in light of how understaffed we are these days but stranger things have happened -- I will get a part-time job somewhere else. This is Portland and I am still a bicycle mechanic, after all.
If asked why I'm doing this, all I can say is that it was time, and probably past time, to do so.
I needed to finally step up and give my own tectonic plates a hard shove.
If little earthquakes result along the way, that too is my choice.
I'll live with the earthquakes, and their tiny aftershocks, as I make my way into the new career path of my choosing.
It's a good thing I know how to ride through loose gravel.