Quintessential Kenyon: Student Life, Uncut

Shopping for Hex Keys and a Greater Sense of Maturity

Harper Beeland
November 9, 2016

The photoshoot required for my last blog post, one concerning my beloved bicycle, brought to my attention something truly disturbing. Evidently, for as long as I had owned that bike, my nearly six-foot-tall self had been riding with the seat at a height appropriate for the average middle schooler. Why no one ever bothered to tell me that I was so unnecessarily folded up like this, I cannot say, but it explained why even the most meager inclines had posed a challenge for me. In that way, I was relieved to know that my thighs still had a fighting chance in this world. Overall, the revelation was a call to action: to raise the bike seat.

After a little mechanical investigation, I deduced that all I needed was a set of hex keys. Sadly, I had no luck finding these in either the Village Market or the Bookstore, so that left the Walmart in Mount Vernon. Procrastination was not an option, since I couldn’t have possibly endured the shame any longer, so I somehow needed to get myself to Walmart and back as soon as possible. But how? Not with a car ¾ instead, I rode the KAT (Knox Area Transit) bus, providing rides into town every hour, on the hour, eight hours a day, six days a week, entirely free to Kenyon students.

The KAT bus peeks out from behind the Bookstore, waiting to shuttle students into Mount Vernon. 

The trip took all but fifteen minutes. It should be noted that I had not seen the inside of a Walmart since leaving home in August, so the store’s unforgettable smell took me by surprise as I entered the automatic doors. Not even stopping to get a cart, I wasted no time in making my way to the hardware section, doing so willingly for the first time in my life, and snatching up a tiny case of hex keys. Check. But I supposed that, since I was there, it couldn’t hurt to do some grocery shopping for other things I hadn’t realized I needed. Without a cart, I simply flitted from aisle to aisle, piling items into my arms.

After checking out, I still had a good half hour before the bus would return to pick me up, so I sat on a bench outside to pass the time. I peeked inside my only grocery bag and reviewed its contents: the hex keys, some wheat bread, coffee filters, and onion dip ¾ adult things. That is, it was certainly a very different haul than what I would have bought before I came to college. Never before had I gone grocery shopping for the necessities, items that, while excruciatingly boring, would help me to sustain myself and live independently. The most important thing was that I had gotten what I had come there for.

But the mission would not be complete until I actually gave the hex keys a purpose. Later that afternoon, with only a few turns of the key, I elevated my bike seat to a more appropriate height. In relation to the lengths I had gone to acquire the tools necessary to fix the seat, the energy expended in the actual act of repair was comparatively nothing. Still, I knew it would be worth it in the long run to not look like Nosferatu on a tricycle.

I mounted the bike, and while it was significantly trickier to stay upright, I felt a change. Not only did I feel taller, I also immediately felt more powerful and in-control. Over the past few months, there had been the occasional cloud looming over my head and making me question how I would ever survive as an adult. But I saw then that if I had managed to resolve my bicycle dilemma, I was going to be just fine. And sure, it’s hard to compare a meager grocery run to other adult matters such as car repairs or buying renters insurance, but everyone has to start somewhere.

As I gave the bike a test ride around the block, it began to pour down rain. My shoes were soaked, but with this new posture, at least I knew that I would look less ridiculous, and that those inclines wouldn’t seem so impossible anymore.