“There’s a problem with your bike”
So said the standard issue multi pierced, alternatively hairstyled young punk behind the Bikehut desk. I was only able to extract this admission once he’d had a good scratch of his crotch, and spent some time examining the floor in the obvious hope this would spare him from dealing with boring old blokes. To be fair to the lad, it cannot be easy even moving about when your jeans have a crotch that doubles as a marsupial pouch, and even just bending down risks several potentially lethal stabs from a much-gelled serrated fringe.
It’ll take a while for you to scroll down when I’ll get this down, but stick with me on this, it’s a cracker.
AL: “Right then, tell me more what’s the problem”
GR: “Gears won’t index, need a spacer, don’t have the tool, can’t let you have it without PDI’ing it fully otherwise they’ll make me wear proper clothes“*
AL: “Well you could have called me” GR: “We lost your number” AL Slapping Every Increasing Forehead “When will it be ready then?”
GR: “Tomorrow, maybe Friday, no later than when you’re dead”
AL: “I know this isn’t your fault, and you’ve been left to roll out the bad news by your boss who sounds the part but clearly has a fine career waiting only in Sales and Marketing, but I’m here now, I’m a bit irritated, I have no intention of coming back tomorrow, so what do you suggest we do next?”
GR clearly considering which bike tool he’s going to insert up his boss’s back passage come first light tomorrow “Er, Er, I dunno, do you want a black one?“**
AL: “No I bloody don’t. I’m in touch with my inner Essex, what’s Plan C?”
Plan C appears to be the supervisor who is – oh – months older than the Grom, who smartly steps in and asks “Large is it?” “Yep” ” Special Edition” “Yep”, “How about that one over there?” She points to a bike carelessly laid on the clothing rack showing at least the odd sign of being built.
GR: “Er, Er, that’s for a bloke whose coming in tonight. From Swindon”
SU: “Ring him up, tell him not to bother”
GR: “Don’t have his number either”
SU: “He’d have come by now, let this gentleman have it”
GR and I exchange a glance. I know he’s in a world of shit if this bloke turns up demanding his bike tonight even though it’s only 20 minutes to closing, and he knows I’m clearly the type of selfish arse that is leaving with either the bike of his choice, or a choice of body part from the cannon fodder behind the desk.
GR: “I’ll just sort the brake cables” and off he wanders hunting for some tool that is clearly going to be sharper than his own intellect.
For a second, I’m conflicted with a fairly unusual feeling of guilt that not only does some poor bastard have to live in Swindon, he’s made a special trip all the way to Hereford where his reward will be a grunty grommit and a bag full of excuses. Two seconds later, I’m over it and flashing virtual cash while trying to speed up the lad whose turning cable cutting into a three week job.
Eventually – just before I rip the tool from his hand and do it myself because I know something bad is bound to happen if this goes on much longer – the bike is handed over, I take a deep breath and admonish myself not to ruin everything by hastily falling down the stairs. I navigate those successfully only to be confronted by a fit looking chap of about my height sharing a cheeky hello and a “Snap I’ve come to pick one of those up”.
Well what would you do? Honestly, you’d be out that shop and gunning the engine in an escape driver styleee rather than have to try and negotiate between three people you’ll never see again, or be forced to wrestle for ownership of the one working bicycle. Look I’m not proud of my behaviour, but at least I’m being honest here. And he was from Swindon, so really deserves almost everything he can get. Or is this case, didn’t.
Bike loaded, engine running, I sneaked a last look up the stairs when there seemed to be some kind of argument going on. I’m surprised they didn’t call me up to ask if I could come back in – ah no they’d lost my phone number of course. I’ll ring up tomorrow to make sure no-one was injured on my behalf, but right now I’ve a lovely 8 kilogram Carbon road bike sat behind me ready to float onto the ceiling and that’s makes me happy.
And a bit of a bastard, yes I’ll admit to that.
* I have applied the Babel-Hog to save you having to navigate grunts, oddly placed glottal stops and vigorous crouch rubbing.
** Again, I’d like our London readers to take a deep breath and try not to make 2+2 add up to about 69.