Sunday, April 07, 2019

The Story Of Guitar Ted: Fire Sale

A Guitar Ted Productions series
Welcome to a brand new series on G-Ted Productions! This series will jump off from the time where the "Race Against Death Tour" ended and will take you up to the beginnings of Trans Iowa in late 2004. This is an eight year period where my life was transformed. You could say it was metamorphosed from the old to something quite new.

This won't have a lot of bicycle stuff in it at times, but it is all essential to the story of "Guitar Ted". This isn't about where the name came from. That's all here.  No, this is about the person. 

As with previous historical series on the blog, images will be a rarity. Cell phones, social media, and digital images were not available to take advantage of in those last days of analog living.  

In this post we learn why I left the bicycle business for five and a half years.......


The last tour to Backbone State Park was also pretty much the last time I had any meaningful contact with Tim. He had gone off to work for Troy at Bike Tech, and not long after this tour, he moved to Chicago, Illinois. Ryan was employed as a painter, so he was pretty busy and I didn't see much of him as 1996 went into Fall. Around this same time, I sensed something odd going on as far as Tom, my boss, and his shop was concerned. Interbike time came and Tom insisted that I go with him, even though he had to scrap plans to go to Interbike with his two roomates, a gay couple who also worked at the shop. I felt that it was odd for him to ditch those two gals off because by this time they did almost everything together.

Things were so slow in the Fall of '96 I carved this pumpkin at work.

Anyway, Interbike came and went, then Tom went AWOL. He almost was never at the shop. I had the keys to open and close the place, and I knew all the procedures to run the retail side, as well as the working in the shop. Occasionally the two young guys from my RAGBRAI experience would visit, but mostly it was just "Ears", as we called him, that would stop by now. There was tension in the air, despite myself being the only one around for the most part. If Tom did show up he almost never was out of his office. One day, he went scurrying by, and I figured he was going to just disappear again, when he stopped and asked me which one of two high end carbon wheel sets I wanted which had been hanging in the shop all Summer. I chose the Spinergy set, but asked why he was just giving them to me. He mumbled something about maybe "not making it" through veiled tears and ran off down to his office.

So, then he was REALLY scarce. I ended up getting very curious as creditors started calling and asking for him. I wasn't getting paid after a while at this point either, and this would have been December 1996 and January of '97. In January, late in the month, after getting a rare paycheck, I went to the shop's bank and asked for the guy that I had seen Tom talking to when times were better. He came up to the counter and I asked him what was going to happen to the bike shop. The Banker said the bank was probably going to shut it down in the Spring and have an auction.

Well, I wasn't about to wait for that! I kind of put the word out amongst my friends, Ears, Ryan, and a few others, that I was in need of a job. I had no idea what else to do. Then a fellow by the name of Vance, whom I had met briefly at a mechanic's class I took four or five years previously, came in the shop. Vance was, at that time, the head mechanic at Europa, the shop where I work now. He advised me to ask for a job at a local auto mechanic's shop called Scheurman's Auto Repair where he used to work. I said to Vance that I had no idea how to work on cars, but Vance insisted that I could land the job if I wanted it. (I don't doubt now that he had put in a good word for me.)

Well, I got hired straight away, but I asked for one week's notice to my old job. This was the first or second week of February 1997. Although I could have just jumped ship, I felt that wasn't right. I had to tie up some loose ends. Now Tom was a ghost. I had no way of contacting him. He wasn't answering his phone, and his room mates weren't giving him away. So, I started off my last week at Advantage Cyclery by telling anyone who walked in that everything was half off. Cash only. Why not? I figured the bank was going to get pennies on the dollar, if that. And who was going to stop me?

There were a few folks the first day. Tuesday there were about three times that many, but nothing crazy. Wednesday was off the charts and I barely got everyone satisfied. By this time, I knew that Thursday and Friday were going to be nuts. I called in the Calvary in the form of my two Straight Edge friends. They skipped school the next two days and we were stuffing so much cash in the drawers that I couldn't close them after the doors were locked from Wednesday through Friday.

Now, this money would be completely gone the next day, so I knew that Tom was coming in at night and gathering up the cash. He left me an envelope with all my back pay and my week's wages for that week on Thursday evening. I found the envelope in the drawer with my name on it filled with cash. Friday we almost cleaned the place out to the bare walls. I bid my cohorts farewell, then I stuffed all my personal belongings in my car, shut off the lights, locked the front and the back door for the last time, and tossed the key into the dumpster. I wouldn't be needing that key ever again!

I felt good about what I had done. I brought in cash for Tom, probably got more money out of the stuff I sold than it would have brought at auction, kept what was mine, and took nothing away that wasn't. That following Monday, at 6:50am, I showed up in my truck at Schuerman's Auto Repair, not knowing a thing about my future, and having left my bicycle past behind.

Next: My Bicycle Life During My Time With The Dark Side

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