something funny happened while i was biking to work today. out of the corner of my eye i noticed two 30-something guys. one had climbed up the side of the beam holding up the porch, and the other one was helping him down. i glanced at them, was amused, and rolled on my way. as i passed them a little, i overheard the following convo:
ridiculous lawrenceville man #1 [scornfully & loudly]: man! you did all that and that biker lady didn’t even LOOK!
ridiculous lawrenceville man #2: how could you not look? that shit was so cool! what the hell?
this made me laugh and i continued on to work happy (until my tupperware malfunctioned and i spilled the delicious curried-zucchini-potatoes-and-chickpeas lunch i’d packed all over my bike & the sidewalk, in front of this annoying guy from the bank. BOO!!!
but speaking of bikes, OMG. i seriously had the worst bike shop experience of my whole life at iron city bikes this week! i normally don’t go there, but it’s really close to job #2. i heard a rumor that my bottom bracket was fucked up, so i dropped it off for an overhaul. it was bad enough that when i dropped it off, the obnoxious dude working the counter implied that i was stupid enough to ride around with my brakes totally disengaged (“uh, you do know that your back brakes aren’t even on, right?” “that’s because i had to take the wheels off to fit it in his car!” “uh, you do know that your front brakes aren’t even on…?” DUH. like i am just gonna bop around with NO FUCKING BRAKES. grrrrrrr).
but then when i went to pick it up, i found that the front derailleur had come loose in the fixin’ process and was pushing my chain into hateful first gear and not smooth, easy second gear. i was like “sigh” because i REALLY didn’t want to bring it back and deal with more dudeliness. but it worked when i brought it there, however imperfectly, and didn’t work anymore. so i gritted my teeth and went back in. i calmly explained what was wrong and asked if they could fix it. and the manager fucking yelled at me! he literally yelled, “i don’t know WHO agreed to fix this bike! there is so much shit wrong with this bike! it’s a safety hazard! i can’t believe you ride this thing!” etc etc. i seriously wanted to cry. i have issues with men yelling at me, but i said, in a firm unwavering voice. “look. this worked when i brought it in and it doesn’t work anymore. can we please just fix it so i can get home?” he knelt down to look at it and was making hyperventilating noises like he was about to start crying himself. IT WAS SO WEIRD.
but i guess the story ends happily, because they took off my offending derailleur (which hasn’t worked since 2002) and now my bike works so well! i zip around the city like a dream. now i understand why i was having so much trouble getting up the hill, why i was so exhausted after biking everywhere. it wasn’t my fault! it was the fault of a shitty bottom bracket that should have been replaced years ago, as well as the derailleur rubbing against my chain. and now that i’m free of both those things i feel so free.
but seriously, fuck a bunch of those bike assholes. i am so tired of being treated like an idiot every time i go to a bike shop. i’m not an idiot. i’ve been a commuter biker for 9 years now. i know how to fix a flat, adjust my brakes, etc. and what REALLY pisses me off is that EVERY TIME i go in to a bike shop with a dude, it’s always a dude who knows less about bikes than i do and rides less than i do, but they are ALWAYS treated with more respect. they are listened to, things are explained to them, they aren’t rudely cut off or yelled at or condescended to. it makes me so angry i could just scream. i wish i was handy enough to fix all my own shit and never have to give my money to someone who is such a blatant asshole to me ever again, but my hands are tied, as are the hands of any woman who drives a car or rides a bike. it’s fucked up.
dudes: if you’re in a bike shop with a lady (or someone who’s perceived as a lady) and you catch the mechanic treating them like an asshole, you can call them on it. really, you can. just a simple “hey, she knows what she’s talking about” can do wonders. i remember once, about 7 years ago, i was at home on long island and i was telling my dad about something that had gone wrong with my bike. he said, “oooooookay,” like i was being ridiculous, chuckled condescendingly, and gave my brother (who does not know a damn thing about bikes) a sidelong glance like i was being crazy. my brother snapped, “you should listen to ocean. she knows a lot about bikes,” and my dad’s face fell. it was an awesome moment of sibling solidarity. and you know what? my dad never questioned my ability to fix my bike again. that’s all it took. (and geez, it’s my dad! my dad is always saying that i’m smarter than him, but even he couldn’t be nice about this one fucking thing.)
so please. dudes and people who are perceived as dudes: bike shop solidarity. we need it. mechanics: yelling at people for not having a perfectly maintained bike does not accomplish anything. being condescending to women does not make yr dick bigger. and being a fucking asshole serves no one. the end.