Thursday, September 29, 2005


So, I'd been walking over to the BN on Tuesday and Wednesday (I didn't go on Monday because, as you will recall, I wasted the entire day looking at substandard apartments.) I hadn't seen anywhere to park a bicycle around (you know, poles, bike racks) on either day, so yesterday (Wednesday), I asked around at the National Library. The woman downstairs in the exhibit section told me to ask security upstairs, and the security guard at the desk told me to ask the security guy at the outermost desk, so at some point I did. "I haven't been riding my bike here because I don't know if there's anywhere to park it. Is there?" (or something along those lines. In Spanish, of course.)

"Yeah, at the corner of the gated area, by a guard kiosk, there's a rack. You can park your bike there. Make sure to lock it up, though, even though they're right across from it."

So today I ride my bicycle up to the library, and right up to the bike rack. There are no bikes parked there, but there are two scooters locked to it. It's maybe ten percent full.
"This is private parking. You can't park here," says a guard to me from the guard kiosk.

"But I asked yesterday if there was bike parking, and the guard inside told me that there was."
Anyhow, the guard calls his boss, who I guess tells him that I can't park there, because he told me that I couldn't park there, not even for the day, so I lock my bike up outside to a metal railing that was a) really low, b) only an actual, closed, stable piece for maybe a foot, and c) right outside the BN.

Anyhow, I go in and ask the guard at the desk (who I don't think was the same one from yesterday. All of the guards at the BN look the same, except for the mutton-chopped, tattooed, Rockabilly guard), who calls over a supervisor because I asked if he could, who I tell that I'd asked the day before and that I really didn't want to keep my bicycle locked somewhere unsafe, and to make a long story short he tells me that he'll make an exception. For today. "If we let you park your bike here, we'll have to let everyone park their bikes here. If there are 600 people in the library and 10% of them rode bikes here, that would be 60 bikes, " he says. I've seen maybe four cyclists a day here (not counting, of course, those at the Vuelta and UCI World Championships), and it turns out that 0% of total trips in Madrid are made by bicycle. Sheesh.

Anyhow, so I get to park up my bicycle, and they register my library card at the guard kiosk, and I sit in the General Reading Room and look through the secondary sources I've let myself get stuck in for the past few days instead of looking at some nice manuscripts. I stayed until nine, when the place closed, because I didn't get there until pretty late, since I spent the morning looking at apartments, one of which was actually, maybe, liveable. So I leave, and the security supervisor, who had allowed me to park my bike for the day, was outside by the bike racks with a sadistic grin of some minor triumph on his face. "You didn't ask yesterday. I checked. You didn't ask the guard who was there when you entered the library at 1:30 and you didn't ask the one who was there when you left at 7:30." a) The guy had nothing better to do that to look up when I arrived at and left the library!?, b) He asked the guards who had been working at those specific times whether or not I'd asked them if I could park there?!, and c) He waited for me or somehow made sure to be outside when I left the library?!

"Um, yes, I'm pretty certain that I did. Thanks," I said. And then I left.

Who are these people?

a) Until yesterday, when I asked the guard, I had no idea that there were any bike racks around. Anywhere. In Madrid. b) Why would someone (namely, me) make up having asked if there was a bike rack around that I could use? I could understand the guard lying about having been asked, or having told me that yes, of course there was, in order to avoid getting in trouble, but I fail to understand why anyone would make up having been told that it was possible to park a bike somewhere in order to, the next day, tell that to the supervisor in order to get permission to park there. Ridiculous.

It took me, by the way about forty minutes, all told, to unlock my bike, ride it home, and take it upstairs. It takes about thirty minutes to walk. I'll explain later, but sheesh.

I'm really sleepy now, but apparently the landlady (landlord's sister) has had a change of heart. I attribute this mostly to her realizing that it is, in fact, illegal for her to kick me out, which my mom suspected might happen.


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