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Gender Roles For Children: Where Everything’s Made Up And The Colors Don’t Matter

, , , , | Working | September 4, 2021

I have twins who just turned three, a boy and a girl. We are openly relaxed about gender differences and it helps us make ends meet when, for example, he wears pink pyjamas until he outgrows them and they fit her. When he demands to wear a skirt, f*** it; he is three. It’s just that his sister has one that sparkles, so he wants one, too. This gets us the odd look once in a while and even some comments, but this is the rudest we’ve ever encountered.

In celebration of the twins’ third birthday, we are shopping for bike helmets. We usually buy used stuff, but safety gear is nothing we want to buy used.

The shop we visit is having a big clearance sale, and [Daughter] picks a violet helmet with a princess on, and [Son] picks a green dinosaur one. Then, we spot a teeny tiny purple bike. It is HEAVILY marked down as it seems to be a floor model that has seen better days, but still, it’s a fully working bike that never saw the outside world before. Our son tries it and loves it. We decide to buy it and approach the worker at the till.

At first, he sees our daughter and smiles as we ask about the purple floor model bike. He then sees my boy on the bike.

Worker: “Oh, it’s for him? Okay.”

My hubby stays with the happy little biker doing rounds on the sales floor. I go with the worker to pay.

Worker: “So that is [price nearly three times what I expected]. We can load the box for you if you pull up your car to the back, or your husband can carry it out. Instructions to assemble are inside.”

Me: “Wait, what? We thought we would get the floor model as it is for [price]?”

Worker: “I’m sorry, but we have no boy bikes of that model on the floor.”

Me: “I thought they were unisex at that stage? And even so, he is getting on and off it fine as it is, so we are totally okay with it anyway.”

Worker: “Let me get my manager.”

I’m confused. The guy goes off and returns with another worker who says he is the manager.

Manager: “My employee told me you asked for a new bike for the floor model sales price? I’m here to clarify, it is that cheap because it is used and we can not sell new ones for that price.”

Me: “But I never asked for a boxed one. We could not pluck him off that one anyway by now, and I thought we could just ride it out of the door.”

Manager: “But he told me you needed a blue one and the floor model is purple.”

Me: “I never said anything about another colour. Why would I? I understand it’s the floor model you are selling. Can I please just pay and get this done?”

Manager: “Of course! I’m sorry. Please come over to the till.”

The worker is standing near the till, and as he notices me paying the low price, he pipes up:

Worker: “But it’s the wrong colour and you can’t return it anytime later for that reason. The sale is final. And if it breaks, then it breaks; it’s your own risk.”

The manager sighs and turns to the worker.

Manager: “[Worker], you know full well that we give a two-year warranty on anything that leaves our doors. And you need to stop making these ridiculous assumptions about what is a boy’s and a girl’s colour.”

Worker: “But it’s not healthy to have him on a purple bike! Everybody will think it’s a gay thing, and he will be embarrassed!”

Me: “Excuse me. He is three. He still has a lot of years in peace before he has to find out what goes on in his heart and pants. He is wearing Hello Kitty underwear right now because it was glittery and he liked it. Just relax, man.”

Worker: “I should call the police on you for abusing your child! You are trying to make him gay, just because you think it’s cool and real men scare you.”

We all fell silent in shock a bit, and the manager grabbed the employee’s shoulder. He started protesting but was wordlessly shoved through a door to the office. The manager closed the door and returned. He started to apologise but I stopped him. I knew it was not his fault and he thanked me a lot. He gave us an even bigger discount on the bike and threw in two novelty bike horns shaped like animals that the kids got to pick. [Daughter] picked a tiger and [Son] took an elephant. The manager told me the worker was his sister’s boyfriend and he only had him there because he wanted to help them out. I never saw him there again, but we still go get most of our bike gear there and are very satisfied.

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It’s As Easy As Learning To Eat A Burger

, , , , , , , , | Right | April 22, 2021

I work at a bicycle store. A man about a decade my senior comes in asking for yellow handlebar tape. I show him our selection, which includes a bright yellow. He happily grabs some and explains that he is making a “hamburger bike.” 

His bike’s frame is dark brown — the beef patty. The pedals and helmet are lighter brown, for the bun. His tires are bright green, for lettuce; his seat is darker green, for the pickles; his red rear reflector and white front reflector are ketchup and mayonnaise, respectively. The yellow handlebar tape is to be mustard.

While I am confused why he’s decided that “burger” was the perfect aesthetic for a bicycle, his excitement is contagious. He goes on to tell me that he needs orange for cheese; yellow or white would be redundant, you see. I dig around in an order of new stock and find him an orange water bottle and holder that he can screw to his bike frame.

With his hamburger (or cheeseburger, now, I suppose) bike thus perfected, he rides off a happy man. If only every customer were so pleasant and easy to please!

This story is part of our Feel Good roundup for April 2021!

Read the next Feel Good roundup for April 2021 story!

Read the Feel Good roundup for April 2021!

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Racking Up The Grievances

, , , , , , | Working | November 20, 2020

I have a luggage rack on my bike which has encountered a problem. I take it into the shop where I bought it, where they offer a lifetime guarantee.

Me: “I’ve got this issue with my pannier rack which you guys sold me.”

Cashier: “Do you have a receipt?”

Me: “Yes.”

I hand the receipt over.

Me: “So the problem is—”

Cashier: “No worries; we can fix that for you. It’ll be about twenty minutes or so.”

Me: “I mean, that’s great, but the problem is—”

Cashier: “Cool, cool.”

He doesn’t even look at the bike; he just starts wheeling it away.

Me: “Right, but—”

Cashier: “Look. The rack broke, yeah? We’ll take it off and replace it.”

He disappears into the back.

Me: “Oooookay.”

I go out and drink a leisurely coffee. Forty minutes later, I haven’t heard anything, so I go back to the shop and ring the bell on the counter. A different person, I assume the bike mech, emerges from the back, wiping her hands on a rag.

Me: “Uh, hi. I’m here to pick up my bike. It’s a blue Kona?”

Her eyebrows go up.

Mech: “Oh, that was you, huh?”

Me: “Um. Yes. Trouble?”

Mech: “Well, we’re having a little more difficulty than we’d first thought.”

She shoots a look towards the back, where I assume the cashier is hiding.

Mech: “Can I ask, how did you shear off the screws holding the rack to the frame?”

Me: “I swear, I don’t know. I was waiting for a ferry and I just heard a ‘ping!’ sound and the screw heads had come clean off. If it was something I could fix myself, I would have just exchanged the rack and reinstalled it, but I don’t have the tools to get the broken screws out of the holes. I tried to tell the guy, but he wouldn’t listen and said you folks could replace it in twenty minutes.”

The mech pinches the bridge of her nose and lets out a long sigh.

Me: “I don’t want to be a pain, but how much longer is this going to take? I can come back tomorrow…”

Mech: “That’d probably be best. Sorry about [Cashier]; he’s the owner’s son and thinks he knows everything. I hate to say this, but if you’ve got a boyfriend or a brother or something, if they bring it in, they’ll have better luck getting him to actually pay attention.”

Me: “My husband hasn’t ridden a bike since he was twelve years old. He wouldn’t have to first clue what to say without a script.”

The mech heaved another sigh, scribbled something down on a piece of paper, and slid it over to me. It was a note that said, “My girlfriend works here; they’re much better,” with the address of another shop. I’ve gone there ever since and never encountered any problems.

This story is part of our Best Of November 2020 roundup!

Read the next story in the Best Of November 2020 roundup!

Read the Best Of November 2020 roundup!

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What Part Of “I Don’t Know Him” Is Confusing?

, , , , , | Working | November 16, 2020

For several days, I’ve been receiving phone calls for a man. I keep telling people that they have the wrong number, but more and more companies keep calling. They’re for auto insurance quotes, realtors, and landlords trying to set up viewings, banks — all sorts of things that, when put together, makes it sound like [Wrong Person] is moving to the area. The truly bizarre part is that my number is from when I lived in another state, but all the calls are from businesses within half an hour of my current home. I keep telling them that they have the wrong number, but this caller is the worst.

Me: “Hello?”

Caller: “Hi, this is [Caller] with [Bike Dealership]. I’m looking for [Wrong Person].”

Me: “I’m sorry, he keeps giving out this number but it’s incorrect.”

Caller: “Uhhh, is this [my number]?”

Me: “Yes, but [Wrong Person] is not associated with it.”

Caller: “Well, he put it down as his contact.”

Me: “I’m sorry, I don’t know him.”

Caller:  “Can you give me his number?”

Me: *Pause* “I… just said I don’t know him.”

Caller: “I need to talk to him about this bike we’re customizing for him.”

Me: *Sigh* “I don’t know him, nor do I know how to get in contact with him.”

Caller: “Just tell him to call me back.”

Me: “I can’t. I don’t—”

He hangs up.

Not five minutes later, the same number calls again.

Me: “If you’re calling for [Wrong Person], stop.”

Caller: “Quit f****** around. I’ve got work to do. Put him on.”

Me: “Why would I tell you he’s not here if he is?”

Caller: “I don’t know but you need to stop. I’m busy and I don’t have time for this bulls***.”

Me: “Yeah, so am I, but I’m taking the time to politely tell you that there’s a mistake on your paperwork and you’re swearing at me.”

Caller: “I don’t have time for this. I really don’t. Tell [Wrong Person] to come pick up his piece of s*** bike.”

He hangs up again.

The next day, the same number calls for a third time, but I let it go to voicemail. The man leaves a message. 

Caller: “Uhh, I was trying to get in contact with [Wrong Person]… but I don’t think he’s there.”

I stopped answering numbers I didn’t know, and the calls for [Wrong Person] stopped. After the second call from that guy, I updated my voicemail message to say my name and phone number, and to say that I do NOT know anyone named [Wrong Person] and would not be responsible for relaying information to him.

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Not Handling The Mechanics Of This Business

, , , , , | Working | November 13, 2020

I have several bicycles that I maintain myself. Sometimes, I will visit my local bike store and ask the mechanics for advice on a problem or which tool to buy. The mechanics are well qualified and very helpful. It is a huge international store which also employs sales staff.

Unfortunately, a pattern develops. I ask to speak to a mechanic, and some of the sales staff tell me they are mechanics. However, they are unable to answer simple questions. It has happened several times, and I am tiring of it.

This time, I walk in carrying a bicycle wheel.

Me: “Hi. If you don’t mind me asking, are you a mechanic?”

Employee #1: “Yes.”

Me: “Great! Can you tell me which tool I need to remove the cassette from this wheel? I don’t think it’s a standard Shimano spline.”

Employee #1: “I’m not sure. Let me check the workshop.”

I follow him to the workshop.

Employee #2: “Let me try this tool… I’m sorry I’m not sure.”

Employee #1: “Do you want to leave it with us and I’ll ask [Head Mechanic] tomorrow?”

Me: “No, thank you. Wait… I asked if you were a mechanic. Which Cytech level do you have?”

Employee #1: “I don’t have one.”

Me: “Then why did you tell me you were a mechanic?”

Employee #1: “Well, basic stuff.”

I leave and return the next day. [Head Mechanic] is working. He is amazing. He can do everything a bike mechanic would ever need to do, including building wheels.

Head Mechanic: “Hey, [My Name]! How’s that bike build coming?”

Me: “Getting there! I need this cassette off, but the cassette remover doesn’t fit.”

Head Mechanic: *Lifting something off a shelf* “That’s a freehub system, but you’re holding a Shimano spline tool. You need one of these. Slide it in and turn anti-clockwise, like this. It’s £12.”

Me: “Thanks. By the way… are the sales staff entitled to call themselves mechanics?”

Head Mechanic: “No. Why?”

Me: “It’s happened a few times. I ask to speak to a mechanic because I have a complicated question. They then tell me they are a mechanic and they get confused by whatever I’m asking.”

Head Mechanic: “Really? We haven’t hired any new mechanics.”

Me: “A few sales assistants seem to think that because they can fix a puncture, they are professional mechanics. It’s also really disrespectful, because you have paid thousands for formal training. Would you tell the manager you have had a complaint?”

Head Mechanic: “Yes, sure. When did it happen?”

Me: “Yesterday. I don’t mind speaking to sales assistants if they stay within their limits. If someone who doesn’t know what they are doing works on a bike, someone could get hurt. All this because people don’t have the guts to say, ‘No, I’m not a mechanic but why don’t you try me and I’ll do my best?’”

I also complained by Facebook private message. [Head Mechanic] still knows the answer to anything I ask. I now ask for a mechanic by name, or I ask if they have completed a course in bike mechanics.

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