So I’m at a crossroads. A terrible crossroads where my bike’s desperate need for maintenance (oil change, new tires, new brakes, 15k service, state inspection) has intersected with my lack of funds ($0 in the savings account and creditors outpacing earnings). I’ve hit the riding point where I duck around every corner (even though I know for a fact no police car can actually read my inspection sticker to tell it’s 3 months out of date); where I’m afraid to ride my bike to jury duty because there are a LOT of cop cars there with bored police officers hanging around and probably looking for expired inspections stickers; where every rattle, clank or bump is the engine about to die from lack of attention; where I’m afraid to ride. There. I’ve said it. I’m afraid to ride because my tires (at almost 18k miles) have passed their life expectancy by more than 2,000 miles.

Ugh.

And here are my options:

Park the bike and walk everywhere. Nyet!

Ride my bicycle. Well, that’s OK when it ISN’T 105 degrees outside and I’m doing it because I want to, not because I have to so… Nope!

Use a credit card. Hmmm…

So, a year ago exactly, I paid off every credit card I owe and swore I would never, Never, NEVER charge anything again without paying it off immediately. Yeah, right.

It’s a total bitch. I have a really good job. I make more money than I ever thought I’d make. It’s a GOOD job. But I also have expenses and, despite my very best intentions, those expenses outpace my income.

This isn’t the place to go into why that is. Suffice to say, life is more complicated than just me and my personal business. But the bottom line is that I’m riding on an unsafe bike and am uncomfortable riding any distance at all (even though I don’t have any alternative) and I need to do something about it. I have plenty of unused credit, just begging me to get my bike fixed and I don’t want to do it. I know where this train is headed. I know where this road goes.

But I also know that I soon will truly be afoot (or abike) and that just isn’t practical for me. So the question comes back: to charge or not to charge?

What would you do? What should I do?