Thursday, November 06, 2008
When I walked into Gourmet Bicycles all those years back and offered to work for free in exchange for training, I had no idea that the shop would end up being the source of so many friends. I also met some very strange people at the shop. Dug's post today reminded of one particular customer in particular. Alarm bells went off in my head the first time I saw this guy. He was relatively short, wore glasses, and had a neatly trimmed mustache - pretty much the perfect creepy computer geek look. The kind of guy you're afraid to make angry because doing so could result in you being buried in his back yard. Yeah, he was creepy. One of his favorite past times (apparently, from how long he spent doing it) was to come in and ask about every single bike in the Bianchi range. Or least ask about the bikes we didn't carry. And this after he'd read the brochure. I didn't mind a customer seeking to make an informed purchase, but this guy was just nutty. He'd ask about a particular model and ask how much. I'd tell him, and then he'd ask when we anticipated getting one. I'd tell him that we weren't going to be getting any different models in during the rest of the year, but we'd be happy to special order one for him. We'd just need a substantial deposit to get the process going. Without pausing, he'd move to the next bike in the line that we didn't stock and ask the same questions. Once he'd been through the line, he'd start over. Finally, I figured it was worth the risk of upsetting him by cutting him off to get some work done on the repair I needed to finish. Undeterred, he followed me back to the repair area to continue his questions and I'd answer them the same way. He came back a few weeks later, and a few weeks after that. This continued periodically even after Gourmet closed and Frank's opened. We had a routine. One day he broke the routine and showed up with an actual repair. He brought in a mountain bike wheel that needed truing. The tire and wheel were immaculately clean - not a speck of dirt or grease anywhere. Despite this, he carried the tire wearing a single brown gardening glove. We trued the wheel and he returned several hours before it was scheduled to be complete. Here's where my plan came into play - by now I knew he'd show up well before it was time, so I had the wheel in place behind the work bench. As he walked up to the door, I could see that he didn't have his glove on. So, I waited behind the bench with my hand on the wheel. When he asked me if the wheel was ready, I cheerfully told him it was and swung the wheel into his hand. Reactively, he grabbed the wheel. As soon as he realized what he had done, he dropped the wheel as if it were a hot rock and ran for the door muttering unintelligably. He returned after a few minutes with his glove and took the wheel with him. I'm pretty sure he's still washing his hand.