Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Bike Shop Tales: Back To Work II

Here are some more stories about the day to day at Advantage Cyclery.............

Advantage Cyclery was a really busy place in the season. I remember putting in plenty of 12 hour days there. Most of my time early on was split between being a salesman and being a mechanic, but it wasn't long before I was in the back most of the time wrenching on repair after repair.

Early on in my tenure there, the shop was walled off. A doorway to the sales area being the only outlet other than the back door. So things could get really congested on a busy day by that opening. I remember one day early on that caused a bit of a problem due to this bottle neck.

It was a typical busy day and we had sales people running in and out asking questions and having us attach accessories to new bikes. I was busy with something when Mike, a long, lanky fellow with long, stringy blonde hair poked his head into the shop area with a bicycle in his hands. Mike was an employee at times, used to be on the Advantage Cyclery race team, and was a super mellow guy. This day he was helping us out on the sales floor.

He had this bicycle and was trying to do something but needed a tool. The customer that owned the bike was standing right behind him in the doorway, a young women, probably college aged. Mike said, "Hey, can someone hand me a pair of dykes?" Okay.....innocuous enough, but unbeknownst to Mike, the young women standing behind him was not amused. I saw her jaw hit the floor, and her face went white, then blood red. I started to chuckle, because I understood right then that the young lady was "gay" and was taking offense at the term Mike had used for "diagonal end cutters". Mike seemed unaware until he turned around, probably at the sound of a sharp intake of air by the young women, who then began to give 'er to Mike for being so rude.

Everyone in the shop was barely in control of their laughter. Poor Mike! We all knew him well enough to know that he would never throw out that term in a derogatory manner. And of course, the young women may not have been schooled in the layman's terminology for common shop tools. Ah well! It all turned out okay, and we got a light hearted lift during a stressful day!

Another customer story: There was a fellow that came in and out of the shop that was mentally handicapped to the point that he couldn't drive, but he held down a job and got around by bicycle. It wasn't uncommon for him to take some time off and go visit folks in towns up to a 100 miles away. He used some pretty low end bicycles, so we saw a lot of him due to his constant need for new parts.

Well, this fellow needed a saddle one day and because he had issues with women, the gals wouldn't help him. I don't know why, but he could not be anything but rude to women, so we had an understanding that he had to talk to Tom, or another male employee if Tom wasn't around. Much of the time, this fell to me.

He was hard to get through to, and very suspicious. So selling him anything simple usually ended up being a three hour ordeal, seemingly. I sold him the saddle, bolted it on to his rig, and off he went. Didn't see him for months afterwards.

Then one day he came in ranting, and had one of the girls in tears while the other came back to get me furious at the dude. I said I'd be right out. Well, it seems that his saddle wore out and he was upset that it had worn out like it did when he had "just bought it". Okay, keep in mind he had ridden the bike for three to four months and probably had three thousand plus miles in that time. He rode in all kinds of weather in blue jeans. The saddle he bought was a typical replace ment saddle too. Maybe $30.00 retail. All right?

Well, he got flaming mad at me when I tried to tell him he simply wore out the Lycra cover. He yelled at me and called me a liar. Whoops! Pushed the wrong button there he did! I looked him straight in the eye and asked him to repeat what he just had said. He did. I said, "You and I are going outside. NOW!" Yeah.....he was a bit surprised by that reaction!

Well, I took him outside the door and told him he could say anything he wanted, but never, ever call me a liar. He could go away with nothing, and never come back, or we could go back in, and talk civil about his issues. He apologized. We went back inside, found him a faux leather take off saddle, charged him $5.00 for it and sent him on his way. He never was any trouble after that.

The girls were amazed, and very grateful for what I had done. Well, all in a days work, I guess!

More people and stories about the old shop days coming again next week!

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