Wednesday, October 21, 2009


As part of my job, people who buy our bicycles call and ask me all about fixing them.

I'm used to working with very direct, analytical people. So when I answer their questions, I assume that they have tried A, B, and C in a linear fashion, and none of this worked. I am usually wrong.

They call and ask why the gearshift won't move. I explain that it's a feature: when the brake is engaged, you can't change gears. They say yes, they knew that. I wonder why they asked, then. They say that they want to know, in fact, not why the gearshift won't move when they have the brake engaged, but if it is possible to paint the brake line bright pink and engage the gearshift when a button is pressed. Then I want to beat my head on my desk.

Sometimes I feel like we're not even speaking the same language.

(To add to the joy, sometimes I get the end result of a bad game of Telephone, where the bicycle riders talked to their bicycle mechanics, who talked to the secretary in the office, who told the boss, who has never been on a bike, who tells the secretary something, and then the secretary, who has never been on a bike, calls me. Aaaagh.)

(There's one person who sends me a line drawing of the problem, with all the parts labeled properly, and arrows detailing what's wrong. Sometimes Polaroids of the broken bike in action. I think I love this person.)

I think I need to re-examine my assumptions. Possibly I need to draw a diagram and send them the diagram. But we're not in Kansas any more, Toto.

(The fact that I only slept 5 of the last 30 hours probably doesn't help much. Baby's First Ear Infection sucks.)