Life in a Bike Shop

Camel Jockey

Accidental or possibly purposeful, racism happens in the last bastion of all that is pure and decent; the bike shop. Sometimes I don’t think people really take into consideration just what in the hell they are saying. I’m not the Sesitivity Inspector as I failed my civil servants exam but, I think I know foul shit when I hear it. When someone had used that term as part of a poorly slung together anecdote about who she was and who she wasn’t I paused and waited for something from her to expound on her words. I really believe she thought she was using a term that was not offensive like, “fag” or “chink” or Afro-American. Some moments are teaching moments and others are made for Michelob.

Grief Counselors

Service folks are not cynics by trade but by design. Bikes fatigue just like everything in the known universe. They fatigue even faster if you happen to get hit by a truck. In service our responsibility is to inspect the bikes for anything that could cause future heartache and certain regret.

Step 1 in this dance, is to ask about the health of the one fortunate enough to find time to ride, only to cash in those chips by doing “the bump” with a Chevy. Sometimes you see the person still clearly fucked up trying to address the shifting issues there bike was having pre-wreck. Gotta love (from a distance) the vigor.

Step 2 is seperating the cosmetic damage from a piece destined for a shop art piece. Not every shop has a Jackson Pollack hanging but most will have some sort of homage to a dead bike.

Step 3 is cleaning the frame and inspecting it for telltale signs of damage like missing chain stays. That’s usually a dead giveaway that the bike is beyond repair.

Step 4 is putting your arm around the client’s good shoulder and giving it to them straight. Eye contact is crucial. As their bike is suspended on the gurney lifeless and cold, the way in which you deliver the news is vital to the next step…

Step 5 is the estimate. You usually don’t want to lead with, “I know a guy______”. That works in Jersey and the un-gentrified sections of NYC but sounds like a crock of shit in every other part of the country. Carbon repair is costly but there are avenues that cater to the super metal-type substance. Usually with the steel bikes we see, the fabrication outweighs the cost of the bike. The carbon repair estimate pill for the customer can be harder to swallow than the oxy that they refuse to share, but still cheaper than going new.

The Cake Is In The Oven And Chicken Raising

I had a customer tell me that she would come over to get her bike as soon as something she had in the oven was done cooking. I really didn’t need to know why she couldn’t come now, but its the quirky people that make life tolerable. When her pie did finish she came over. Empty handed too. Pie almost beats a case of beer for mechanics. You bring pie and you have mechanical friends for life. She did tell me about the network of chicken farmers in town. Again, I don’t know why, but I love a quirky yarn. I think chicken raising may be what hiptsers evolve to after drinking artisan Pabst, skinny jeans and Italian fixed gears are all passe’. Someone will no doubt raise the stakes and have an in town cow named Mabel. Fuck hipsters and their fresh milk!!