This saga starts simply like most of my adventures do – take an idea, take too little research, take a pinch of foolhardiness, and shake. I decided that I wanted to get new handlebars on my bike. This sounds simple, yes? Why did I want them? For an easier reach? Yes, I thought, that would be nice.
(Research now tells me that it doesn’t quite matter since you’re supposed to be partially posting on a bike and not the relaxed aristocratic sitting-back-and-waving sort of position. Well then.)
[Not… that I wave…]
On a Wednesday, all this happening about two weeks ago, I go to speak to a local bike shop. So local that I walked there, got an estimate of a cheap new curvy handlebar plus about twelve dollars in labor, and walked back to my apartment to get my bike.
On my return I get told that it’ll be a week…for new handlebars. I swallow, glance at J, who came with me, think briefly that I wasn’t really riding it currently, since so much had gone as of late, and also, because of the terrible heat. There is debate that I need new cables for my gears due to the change in my handlebars, but it is decided they are not needed, so I sign off and look forward to picking up my bike on the following Wednesday.
Sunday morning around 11, I get a phone call informing me that they did indeed need to put new cables on my gears. I sigh into the phone, and he quickly says that if I do a tune-up, make my bike all sparkling new and fancy with alignments and what not, that the cables would be included. “So what would the new turn around for my bike be at this point,” I ask. He gives a grunt, “Well, if I’m not interrupted, I should be done by the end of the day.” (Mistake number 1.)
I’m quite happy to hear that and agree to let him tune-up my bike. I wait to hear back from him, since they are open until 7, but don’t hold it against him that I don’t hear from him. On Tuesday, I start holding on and I give them a call.
“What’s the status on my bike?”
Slow drawl of a stoner, “That would be…ahh…Wednesday or Thursday…Yeah…”
“I…what?” I let it go, figuring that since they told me a week last Wednesday, I can handle it.
Wrong metaphor, but somewhere in my Zen thinking I blew a gasket and called them as soon as the store opened the next day, inquiring when exactly I would be able to pick up my bike that day. (And I know I’m encroaching on One of Those People territory, but hey.) All vocal smiles I’m informed that it should be ready by the end of the day. (Mistake number 2.) I called at 5:30, after not receiving a call, and hear, “Oh, well, I’m not sure what the status is …oh, that’s still being worked on, we’ve been putting it up and down to work on other jobs all day. Call us tomorrow.” (Mistake number 3.)
Anyone that can tell me what’s wrong with their production line gets a cookie.
I choke on this information, tell J, tell my Mother, stew, stew, stew. For as much as I would have nonbelievers to this theory, I’m not big on confrontation. My actual Kick Assery, usually consists of, “Terribly sorry, good chap, I think there must be a problem on my end.”
Next morning, Thursday, 11 o’clock.
Como es mi bike, senórs ?
Hi again, friendly neighbor stoner.
“I think…well…ahh…it’ll be done…Tomorrow…Yeah…”
Time for the big guns on my end, “Let me speak to your manager.”
This helped. Greatly. In about a half hour, after listening to him bemoan that his mechanic was at school and couldn’t tell him what the problem was and to this received my silence, because, oh not really my problem, Bike Shop Manager realizes that the bike was finished…just…the tag had fallen off, and no one knew to call me. Ten minutes later, I’m in the shop. He lumbers toward me with faux bright yellow motorcycle glasses, very fashionably framing his brows, shears off some of the price, saying, “I hope we’re still friends.”
Coming home, I realize that my back fender has a very loose screw, causing me to need to take off the wheel, which I think shifted my gears slightly.
There are silver linings to this story. I now know what derailers on a bike do. I know that even bike mechanics can be smarmy. I now know that if I buy a part, I should damn well install it myself. One would think that the parts to a bicycle are simple and thus the reason that it is the most used vehicle on the planet. Well, not in the town I live in apparently. For those who know where I live, Outdoor Adventures by the Lowe’s on Missouri, boo. Boo, sirs.