Bike #2 and the magic raffle

I have one clear memory when it comes to my second bike, which was also my first road bike. It was a Schwinn World Sport, I believe from 1980. Unlike most all of the other bikes I’ve owned, I don’t really have memories of riding this one. I do remember I got a handlebar-mounted touring bag for it, and I did use that when I would ride it out of town to my friend Mike’s house. But the clearest memory I have of this bike is the night I won it.

I was in 5th or 6th grade. My elementary school had an annual carnival held in the gymnasium. There were games of various kinds, which I barely remember. Honestly I wouldn’t remember any of it at if it weren’t for the raffle. The prize: a brand new silver Schwinn World Sport 10-speed road bike. It was displayed in the school where I would see it everyday, and I pretty quickly bought myself a raffle ticket for it. I remember telling the lady in the office who I bought the ticket from that I would be winning that bike. I was serious. I had absolutely no doubt that I was predetermined to take that bike home.

I remember showing up to the carnival with my red raffle ticket and walking straight up to the office-lady at the booth where my shiny silver prize was displayed. I held up my raffle ticket and without a hint of humor reminded her that I had the winning ticket, that I would be going home with the bike. I thanked her for watching it for me during the carnival. It was a foregone conclusion, it was my destiny. That I had to wait for the raffle itself before taking my bike home was silly. It was already mine.

When the time for the drawing came, I stood front and center. On the table was a big glass jar filled with red raffle tickets. For each one, there was a corresponding ticket in the hand or pocket of someone who hoped they would win. But I knew they were all fooling themselves. The winning ticket was in my hand. When the time came, the lady I knew from the school office reached into the jar. She pulled out one ticket. She read the number from the ticket aloud. There was silence. I took the few steps toward her and handed her my ticket. I didn’t even look at my ticket, I didn’t read the number. I didn’t need to.

I’m not sure I ever had as much confidence in anything as I had in winning that raffle. Why? I don’t know. And funny seeing how I have so few other memories of the bike.

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