The Power of Asking, Relationships, and Persistence

Although I’m speaking waaaaaaay too soon on this (and may very well put my foot in my mouth if I arrive in Burning Man without a bicycle), I’m feeling a sense of accomplishment over a task that seemed unlikely to happen and almost didn’t until the very last second.

It’s not a super exciting series of events, but in its own little way it’s an example of what’s possible if you put the energy out there and you have good relationships (since this 100% required the help of other people).

Here’s the walk-through of how it went down:

Problem:
I’m traveling straight to Burning Man from New York City, and my bike — which I would like to have there — is locked in a garage in Los Angeles. My friend who owns the garage is in Oregon and also going straight to Burning Man from there. How do I get my bike out of the garage and up to Burning Man?

Solution:
— I know my friend has a key to the garage in a nearby lockbox, so in theory someone in Los Angeles could get it out if my friend is willing to give this person the code.
— My friend’s bike is also in his garage, so I propose to get his bike up to Burning Man as well if he allows me to give a (trusted) person access to his garage. (Now he also has skin in the game, although I’m doubling up on the favor I would have to ask another person.) He agrees!
— I put out a few announcements to those people in my camp who are traveling from (or through) Los Angeles to see if they’d be up to the task of getting my bike and bringing it to Burning Man. Unsurprisingly, no one volunteers. I’m out of luck.
— But wait! A friend of mine from NYC who’s in LA and part of my camp informs me that we will have a container truck coming up from LA. If there’s any way I could get my bike on there, it will arrive in Burning Man. Now I can ask anyone I know in Los Angeles — not just those going to Burning Man — if they could get our bikes and deliver them to the truck. Still, it’s a big ask, so I’m not holding my breath.
— I ask a non-burner friend who’s both very helpful and reliable in all matters. He agrees!!!
— I put him in touch with our mutual friend in OR for directions on how to get the bikes out. Boom!
— I explain to the truck load-in lead that my friend will be dropping off two bikes for me, and I give the lead’s cell and the truck location and load-in time to my friend. Boom!
— All is handled.
— On the night of the drop-off, knowing that everyone knows what’s going on and how to get directly in touch with each other, I (stupidly) decide to go to a movie. Toward the end of the movie, I get a sixth sense that the drop-off should be happening around this time, so I peak down at my phone. There are a million messages from my friend over the course of the last hour. Crap!
— I run out of the movie and call him. Apparently there was some issue where he was unable to get into our friend’s garage until after a certain time, which didn’t give him enough time to get to the truck load-in. If he did it all now, he’d arrive over an hour later than when the load-in is done. I’m ready to give up.
— But first I call the truck lead. The load-in is indeed over, and he’s no longer with the truck. But…the truck isn’t leaving until the early morning, so maybe there’s a shot the guys who are driving it can accept the bikes if my friend meets them where they are. He gives me their cell.
— I call them. They’re willing to take it if my friend can meet them within 35 minutes at another location — one that’s right by his house(!) rather than the original spot that was way further away. Bingo!
— I call my friend and ask if he can still do it. He’s on it! He gets there in time with the bikes, and the bikes are on the truck as I type this!

Again, I realize this is a really low stakes version of mission impossible, but in a sense it almost feels like I willed these bikes from a locked garage in LA to the middle of a barren desert, since there was nothing I could do but remotely put out energy from the other side of the country. And it was only possible because I was willing to ask if I could get it done, I had the kind of relationship and reputation with my friend that he selflessly agreed to do it, and we remained persistent till the very end.