Tag Archives: Swen Pennings

The joy of a bikewalk

The chain gets loose. But I reattached it yesterday! We’re on the other end of the Vondelpark. That’s a one hour walk home if I’m quick. “Just go, man…” I tell Swen the artist. “Don’t wait for me. This is going to take a while.” “Hey! There’s something you should learn about me. We’re in this together. I’m not leaving you now.”

Swen is being hired by the municipality. Together with children from the Reimerswaal neighbourhood, he creates a boat out of litter as a way to raise awareness for the litter problem in Amsterdam New-West. I’ve been helping him with that for the last couple of weeks. We have a good click, and it’s been going very well.

When our ways part, we say goodbye. I still have a long way to go. Cold hands full of grease and late for my appointment with Alex, I pull my far too heavy bike through the snow over a distance I just calculated to be six kilometers. It’s dark, it’s cold and I’m pissed off.

A guy in the distance is calling someone on the phone. He seems to think the call is important enough for him not to notice me or my struggles. I have to make way for him and for the guy he is impressing on the other side of the line. While the fist that is holding the left part of my steer gently taps him on the thigh, I think of some ways in which I could strangle him.

Alex calls. Half an hour late. “Yeah sorry that I’m late, dude…” I say “I am crossing the Amstel on foot, because my bike is broken.” “Oh! Well, I’m standing in front of your door. I just walked all the way from the IJ.” His bike is broken too. Somewhere deep inside I know there is something smelly about this. I don’t have the slightest incentive to laugh. I cut off the conversation and carry on, tired legs through the snow.

There’s a sticker on a traffic light saying: “the worst is yet to come”. Nothing matters anymore.