So late the other day a celebrity entertainer walked into my shop and bought a bicycle.
He was very subdued and polite, knew what he wanted, and was neither ostentatious nor stingy with his money. He simply wanted an inexpensive bike to use a few days while in town. I would hazard to guess that it was easier to buy a cheap bike and perhaps donate it rather than travel from city to city with his own equipment.
I knew who he was from the moment he walked in the door, though I kept it low key rather than announce to everyone his presence. I greeted him politely, and because I was already engaged with another customer I brought up someone else to attend to him. The other person did make a big deal of it, but that could hardly be controlled by me.
I helped him choose the appropriate tools to be self-sufficient in case of a flat, since he would need a 15mm wrench to remove the rear wheel of the single-speed bicycle. His humorous comment on the oddly named tool was the only time he let loose with his public persona. After that, I asked him politely if I could have a photo with him, and he obliged. Then he went off to a waiting, chauffered SUV.
So that is my celebrity story, provided as requested by others. I have little interest in providing names, and the fact that this man is a cycling enthusiast is already well documented elsewhere. The man was utterly polite and courteous, if he wanted to make a big commotion he would have. So I think I’ll keep it low key.
At times in the past I worked as a personal travel assistant to an entertainer. I have done several world tours, stood as extra security in dozens of autograph sessions, dealt with overly enthusiastic fans/stalkers. I’ve met prima donnas who need to always be at the center of attention, but I think most œcelebrities just want to do their thing. To be sure, most celebrities are not above using their position to get a little more customer service, but they probably aren’t looking to start a new fan club franchise every time they buy a cup of coffee.
So if you take anything from this, know that the rich and famous also enjoy cycling! Rejoice that the good life doesn’t have to be all Cristal and Louis Vuitton. The guy was a gentleman and a cycling enthusiast, and I hope he enjoyed Seattle’s brief sunshine.
Hi. Thanks for coming into my shop and taking part of the consumer experience. Your disposable income is the sole source of our meager profit margins that support the shop’s overhead and indirectly my income.
What’s that? You’d like to ask me a bunch of questions? Why sure, I’d love to take time away from the other tasks that would have had priority over your whimsical visit, after all, I am a living reference free of charge.
No, no, no, you cannot combine that esoteric and ridiculous component with your current bike without making substantially difficult to explain modifications to the entire system. I am going to explain this to you, so please interrupt me repeatedly.
Pardon me? You know a guy whose friend is a hunchbacked transvestite who used to work on bikes in Walmart…and he/she said it would work? My goodness, then I must be wrong! What qualifications could I possibly have…other than a decade of bike shop employment…to refute such gospel?
Yes, I can get the proper part for this amount of money. Why does it cost so much? I am so glad you asked! Let me take a sip of Pepsi before I explain economic theory, supply/demand, the relationship of production volume and unit cost, the….oh,oh, I see now, that was a rhetorical question! A verbal exercise to inspire an epiphany within me! How thoughtful of you….and here I thought I was the one enlightening you.
Oh, I see where the confusion lies… you were looking at the price in the distributors’s catalog I provided so that you could see a picture of the product. Ah yes, that price is what we in the retail industry call “wholesale”. It’s what we pay, and then we make you pay what is called “retail price”, which is Latin for “it’s how a f$%^%ing store can afford to exist.”
Okay, so for today you will take just these Sidi shoes and a set of Speedplay pedals, and instead will order the part I spent the last 30 minutes explaining from mail order. Splendid!
What’s that? Can you have a “bro deal”? Why yes, since you ask for it like that I would be more than happy to violate the trust of my employer and offer these items to you at a fee that entirely denies my employer of any benefit of the wages they pay me for the time I spent answering your tedious questions. After all, if I get no benefit from this transaction, neither should they. I mean, what are brothers for? I am sure I could go to your dental office next week and ask for a “bro deal” on that root canal and crown…or maybe you work in city development and you could…like develop a…um, road for me…or something.
You know, “Brother”, I don’t really know what it is that you do…but chances are it’s nothing that I can cash in on. But never mind about that. I will offer you it for this price.
Excuse me? Such-and-such-a-company is offering it online for less than my bro deal? Alright, asswipe, I’m gonna call your bluff right now. I know for a fact that you are wrong. You think I don’t know how to use the internet? You think you’re gonna school me on the bicycle industry? Those companies have internet sales agreements, you cannot beat the offer I set in front of you. And when I offer you a bro deal, you may accept or decline, but you better keep your mouth shut unless it is to say “thank you.” One more word, and the price goes back up 10%…..yeah, keep whining…okay, now it’s “full retail” again.
In conjunction with Bike To Work Month, Cascade’s education arm has launched a new campaign to spread the word about “Giving Cyclists Three Feet of Space”. I’d seen a few posters and bumper stickers around town, but it was on my bike commute to last weekend’s CTS ride that I saw the first billboard on South Dearborne, a major cycling artery into downtown Seattle.
The campaign is funded jointly by federal transportation grants and a generous donation from Group Health (the title sponsor of Cascade’s STP ride), in an effort to encourage motorists to modify their driving behavior when approaching cyclists. The Washington State driver’s manual mandates allowing at least three feet of space when passing a bicycle.
While not ready to run off and have three feet tattooed on my knuckles, the launch of the new campaign was the kick in the …er, tires… that I needed to finally put in the paperwork for our “Share the Road” plates.
Working in the tech industry, when not blogging here, I’ve been following Negroponte’s One Laptop Per Child program. It started at $100.00 has gone through various permutations and he’s set to release it at $170.00. At the same time as Negroponte is evangelizing the laptop, the bicycle industry in various nonprofits is giving bikes to Africa: helping farmers, rebuilding economies, and transportion for health workers.
Pushing helmet camera technology even further is Twenty20, a fellow Seattle-based company. As I noted last year, helmet cams have come a long way since the Late Night Monkey-Cam and I’ve been getting asked lately about how we shoot videos on the bike. I’m actually (and surprisingly) using a Casio Exilim that shoots 30 mins of MPEG4 at 640x480 (available on Amazon.com). For web videos it works really well and steadies the shots with a fast shutter speed.
One drawback to the Casio method is that I’m holding it in one hand and that can get sketch in traffic or with a heavy load on Bettie.
“We’ve been adding bike lanes, we’ve been adding bike racks,” he said. As for a two-wheeled commute, he added: “You don’t get quite the same feeling in a car.”
Also noticed on Friday this TRAFFIC ALERT: The state Department of Transportation is reporting a three-car accident on northbound I-5 near the Kent-Des Moines Road. The accident is on the right shoulder of the road and the distraction is backing up traffic further then usual this morning.