After many months of deliveries, most neighbors became accustomed to seeing the Cotler brothers on bicycles, towing their Radio Flyer egg wagon. A few unimaginative churls thought it insanely humorous to yell, “Hey, Eggman! Gimme two dozen!” every time we rode by, but the unpredictable wagon-chasing dog was our bête noir.
The worst crack-up (pun intended) came on a fair spring day. Doug was delivering to a house on the south side of Nectarine Street, so with the next customer at the other end of the block, I pedaled ahead.
Getting an egg-laden wagon moving from a dead stop requires both power and finesse. Most important is making certain that the wagon tongue is pointed in the right direction. A yank on the rope with the tongue set obliquely will instantly pitch a wagon over. Several eggs were sacrificed in proving this. Also critical is rope tension and launch. One begins with a slow, forward movement of the bike, cyclist walking alongside, until the rope is taut. Then, the walk moves into a slow, controlled trot, gradually bringing the procession up to take-off speed minimums. Finally, if a sudden leap onto the bicycle is immediately accompanied by forceful, yet steady pedaling, the cacklecade proceeds apace.
I was thus underway, heading at moderate speed east on Nectarine, when a slavering Weimaraner bounced out of a side yard, more-than-doggedly barking and snapping at all six wheels and my sneakers. Unsure of the hound’s intentions, I immediately determined to increase speed and exit from both area and incipient dog bite. This maneuver, however, required a course correction toward said canine. He did not yield. I edged again in his direction. Again he held his ground. Flanked by curb and cur, a parked car now grew large in front of me. To continue on my heading would result in abrupt stoppage—bicycle into car first, Radio Flyer and egg cargo some milliseconds later. The gutter’s right angles seemed an equally malignant option. With but a bike-length of open air, I cut the handlebars toward the beast. He deftly jumped clear and surprisingly trotted toward his home. My bicycle expertly cleared the stationary vehicle with a foot to spare. The wagon did not.
I did not right my fallen freight car. Flushed with a fomenting mixture of adrenaline and indignation, I strode to the dog’s front door. It was not one of my customers’. I knocked, and a man appeared. I explained the situation in short, firm sentences. He smiled wanly, called for George (for that was the villain’s name), and looked over my shoulder to assess the tragedy.
Moments later, the man, George, and I were sitting on the curb, opening every carton, and transferring all damaged goods to a large bowl brought from the house. Soon he had to return to the house for two more bowls. In all we culled six dozen cracked or broken eggs, about 25% of my load. The man paid retail for the salvage, and then transferred the leakiest six eggs to one bowl for George to consume.
Chafing inwardly at this unjustified reward, I said nothing, but was gratified when George sniffed once, eschewed the offering, and loped back to his yard. He had nothing further to prove.
Ever the salesman, I asked the man if he’d like to become a regular customer. He chuckled, tilted his head toward the dog, and said he didn’t like eggs either.
(Continued in the next post.)