Chalk one up for taking no shit from assholes...
Off to buy the boy a new bike. At seventeen and six feet tall, Daniel has reached man size. Not quite man mass, yet, being of the long and lean persuasion, but certainly man height. I agree to buy him the bike on the understanding that this, being an adult bike, is the last one I will be buying, so he's to take care. Well tended, it should last for years - certainly see him through university. No problem, mom.
He calls around the used sports equipment stores and the pawn shops, and we find one, a pawn shop, that sounds promising. Away we all go - a family outing.
Arrive at the shop. A little seedy, as these places often are, it has an impressive display of bikes hanging in the front window, and the fellow who tends to us, though he has the look of a man who's been dry a whopping six to eight weeks now, obviously knows his stuff. His moustache is somehow full and scraggly at the same time, his greying hair curls over his collar, even while it's a couple inches shy of his forehead. His jeans are yellowish on the thighs and butt, his white dress shirt sits like an unfamiliar visitor on his shoulders and wrinkles in protest down his belly. His tie - because folks who work with the public need to be presentable, you know - is crumpled and askew. He's rough around the edges, indeed, but within a very few sentences he's proven himself friendly, knowledgeable, and up-front.
Daniel notices that the seat tube is not the right size for the bike. We pull it off, and, sure enough, it's been wrapped with duct tape to hold it in place. "Hey, good eye, man!" congratulates the bike guy, not the least dismayed, and trots off to the back room to get us another seat.
There is a flurry from the back of the shop. Loud voices. Not raised in anger, just loud. Well, one loud voice, and it proceeds with much bluster to present itself in front of us. This fellow is appreciably cleaner than the bike guy, but a whole lot oilier.
"I so sorry, folks, but we don't have one in the right size right now." He scans our family group and lands on my husband as the alpha male among us. He turns to him, puffed up and fussing. They'll do business, man to man. Except that husband came along because he likes bikes. I'm the woman with the money.
I'm fine with this, though. This man is already annoying me.
"Tell you what. I'll give it to you ("give" it to us, I ask you) for $200."
I pipe up. "That's the price we were quoted over the phone, with
He stared at me, non-plussed. "No, ma'am. Not for this bike."
"Oh, I think so. It's the only Specialist here."
"Couldn't be." He raises his voice, scans the room, bellows. "Who quoted $200 for the Specialist?" No answer. Not surprising: the others are busy with other customers. They're probably about as excited as I am at engaging the guy, anyway. I certainly don't blame them for staying under his radar. "No, ma'am, it couldn't have been this bike. It's worth six, seven hundred dollars."
Uh-huh. I stare at him a moment, then wander off. It's clear he's not about to take me seriously. My husband returns to the fray of getting him to replace the seat. There are other bikes here with seats that will fit - why not one of those? No, no, that can't be done. The bikes are sold "as is". Yes, and this bike was "as is" with
a seat. Seats are easy to find; get one at any hardware store for ten bucks. (Ten bucks? I don't think so.)
Back and forth they go. But I know my sweetie: he's not loud, he's not big and filled with braggadocio, but once he makes up his mind to something, he sees it through. He's annoyed with this asshole, too, and he's not about to leave without a seat for the bike.
Asshole hasn't figured this out yet. In his assholery, I imagine he thinks that the small, quiet guy is no match for his vigourous manliness. He raises his voice once more. "Lenny! Dwayne! Get me the specs for this pipe, so these people have the right numbers to tell to the folks at Canadian Tire." (Oooh. "Specs". "Pipe". Technical terms and everything. I am sooo impressed.)
Now, I know Asshole doesn't want to lose this sale. That's why he came steam-rolling out from the back room, full of sound and fury. I'm fully confident that my husband's determined focus will wear the Asshole down.
With that confidence, I walk to the cash desk, intent on closing this deal. Asshole's continued bluster at my husband envelops me as I go. I pull a disgusted face.
"Is there a problem, ma'am?" It's yet another employee. This store sure has a lot for its size. He's got a wide, round face, shoulder-length blond hair pulled back in a pony tale, and a gleam of intelligence in his grey eyes.
"That man is such
He looks startled, and concerned. "Who? Which one?"
"That one over there, fulminating by the front door. A total jerk."
He relaxes. A huge grin spreads across his face. "You, ma'am, are a discriminating woman."
We share a grin of complicity. "Look, I want to buy that bike, but I do not want to listen to that idiot any more."
"Can do. How much is it?"
"I was quoted $200."
"Two hundred it is."
"When I was twenty-two," I tell him as he looks up the bike's number in his catalogue, "I would have stood and listened to him sweetly, but now? Now I'm just too old to put up with that kind of stuff."
"Life's too short to waste it on assholes, huh?"
"Exactly." Grins all round.
The bike guy, who turns out to be Lenny, and his compatriot Dwayne, sensing something's up, wander over. Sheldon, the pony tale guy, explains, "This acute lady thinks Gary over there is a jerk." He widens his eyes in mock astonishment.
Lenny, and Dwayne snigger quietly. We don't want to call Gary's attention to my little end run, but me and the boys are having a whole lot of fun over here. "Gee, and all this time we thought it was just us!" says Lenny.
"Nuh-uh. Gary is a pompous ass. I just want to buy the damned bike and go home."
"Yeah, Gary, he can make your ears bleed," Dwayne pipes up.
I turn to Lenny. "We were doing just fine with you. How come Gary came charging out, anyway?"
Dwayne and Sheldon leap to Lenny's defense. "Ah, Gary's just real pushy."
"No kidding." We all roll our eyes. More complicit grins are shared.
Sheldon is ringing it through when I hear the negotiations on the other side of the room draw to a close. Gary is making a big loud deal of ceding us a seat for the bicycle.
"Hang on, Sheldon," I say. "It sounds like we're getting the seat."
"Oh, I knew you would. He's not going to let you walk when we have a dozen seats on other bikes that would fit."
Gary is tossing figures around, and lands on one. "Oh, it's going to cost us another twenty dollars."
Sheldon hands me my receipt, the transaction completed. "Never mind, ma'am. I'll just tell him the twenty went in the till direct. Any woman as smart as you deserves a break now and then."
Lenny and Dwayne grin. They just love getting one up on good old Gary.
"Now, remember, ma'am. If you ever need anything from us again, come to this desk, and we'll see that you get what you need."
Will do, Sheldon.