Jan 8, 2019

What does the bike shop do when it rains?

What happens at the beach-side bike rental shop when it's chilly and rainy? Not a lot, but not nothing.

A few soggy people wrapped in mixes of high-tech rain gear and plastic bags rolled in for air for their tires. If they were hoping for a little warmth along with it, no dice - the electric space heater is powerless against the wide-open concrete shell and the temperature is exactly the same inside as out. I stood on alternate legs, propping each foot on top of the space heater in turn to try to dry out my cloth sneakers, permanently wet from the ride in.

Three people passing by wanted to know the time. One small man with facial deformities and a slow gait was excited to hear it was almost 8: "Good, they'll be open when I get there!" He came back past about an hour later muttering excitedly. I guess they were open?

Another guy asked the time and confirmed that the bank would be open by the time he arrived. Great! I always look at the clock over our heads when I tell them the time, giving them the resources to help themselves in the future. But I think partly people just want a moment of conversation.

The person who danced past in a wheelchair yesterday, face covered from the hairline down by a blue bandana, went by again today, this time pushing the wheelchair. Consensus in the shop yesterday was that "he was a true Crip, for sure." I have no insight on that, but today the person did appear to be a woman, with a serious eye patch. She was wearing the same outfit as yesterday, pants with a garish fleur de lis pattern, minus the bandana.

A guy who looked like Garth from Wayne's World came in on a BMX with a story he was excited to tell (twice) about how he got his wheel for just 40 bucks from a shop. Okay. He was wearing a Bird scooter hat, and I asked him how he got that. "I used to work there," he said. They are based in Santa Monica, in the same bougie office complex as NHK. I asked him how it was. "Bullshit, man."
"I was a charger." [Note: That is not remotely the same meaning as "working there."] "They fired me because they thought I was hoarding scooters."
"Oh, that bumps up the price per charge, right? Why'd they think you were doing that?"
"It was someone else in my building. The man who lives right below me was collecting them to take them apart or something. And they fired me!"
What are the odds.

I got out the shopvac and vacced whatever was exposed. It's of course much easier to do when all the bikes are out, but there was still plenty of dust to bust, even with all the bikes in all the racks. I sucked sand and caramel popcorn out of the crevices of the cargo bikes and dust-bunnies tangled up with dried pink bougainvillea petals. I don't know why using that kind of vacuum is so satisfying. Maybe because it's a machine that is stripped down to the minimum for what it needs to do, and it's light. I was enjoying it, and wondering why I don't spend more time vacuuming at home.

A woman wanted to know where Bloomingdales was. A man wanted to know where the courthouse was. The older drug dealer who walks back and forth with the blaring boombox (throwback!) walked past every hour and a half or so from 6:30 am on. A British creative director from a French clothing company called and then came in to take pictures of the beach cruisers to see if she wanted to rent one for a photo shoot. She might come back tomorrow. The brother and sister from New York who were so excited yesterday to come in first thing today to rent bikes for a long ride were probably someplace cozy having some more coffee and looking at the rain from inside.

One of the Santa Monica "Ambassadors," LaToya, stopped by to chat and was delightful. She has long, dense, perfectly even eyelashes like a plastic baby doll. We talked about how we both enjoyed helping people have a great time while they're visiting, even if our part in it was small. She said she logs 8 or 9 miles a day walking around, basically just being available to people with questions, but isn't allowed to walk fast enough to get any cardio out of it: "We have to walk slow enough that a granny could catch up to us from behind if she wanted to." She said they interact with the "street residents," and encourage them not to bother tourists or do things that could get them ticketed. She said sometimes they have to call in clean-ups on "Code Yellow, Code Brown, and sometimes, ugh" - she signaled with two fingers and a nauseated face - "Code V." (Is that the worst of the three? Maybe the hardest to clean?)

The mechanic made coffee and shared his box of donuts, which are as delicious as they are awful. My mug is a little tea cup, and the coffee went cold almost immediately. He rebuilt the wheels on my bike since the shop was so dead, made a few tweaks to the cables, and it's running like a hotrod again. The kid who came in to replace me gave me the Ass Saver (real company/product name) off his bike to protect from the rolling bidet effect that had doused me in the worst possible way on the way over. It's ingenious - just a thin piece of plastic that makes a really light, removable fender. It's black and printed with a fish skeleton, and in that rainy moment, it felt like the nicest thing anyone's ever done.

1 comment:

Emma said...

So happy that you're blogging again! Please to continue.

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