Thursday, October 05, 2006


Barge pilot.

This isn't about riding to work. It's about what it feels like like to have to drive a tank when you'd rather be on a bike. It also seems like a memo went out that proclaimed it "matching scooter day".

Circumstances dictated that I drive a car for work. I have a 1993 Oldsmobile Cutlass. It's for sale, by the way. It was purchased for sort of a "knock around" car. This thing was built before all the cars started looking like jelly beans. The Olds Cutlass is the same as the Buick Century. It's big and comfortable. Did I mention that it's big?

Part of my job involves troubleshooting. I have to determine if the problem is due to a factory defect or improper installation. Then I take the appropriate next step. I'm not really supposed to be a service and repair person. Sometimes I do it anyway. It just makes sense that if I'm already there and the problem can be fixed with a little time spent, why not? I've always hated what I call the "K-Mart" mentality.

If I go ask someone to show me where something is, I usually get told that "it's not my department". They tell me to go ask somebody else. Nine times out of ten they won't even go with me to find the right person to ask. I think it really sucks to do business like that. Isn't customer service supposed to be the primary goal? By the way, I quit going to K-Mart willingly years ago. Katie drags me in there sometimes because her vitamins are cheaper. The things we do to keep sleeping with an attractive woman, huh?

So if I'm there and can fix the problem without a major tear-down, I do it. I keep my boss happy by filling out a form and billing $85.00 per hour to somebody else.

What this is all leading up to is that I ventured to "The Big City" in the Olds because it was all I had available that I could fit a 4 foot step ladder into without messing up upholstery. The ladder fits great sideways in the trunk. It really looks dorky strapped across the back of a bike. Makes negotiating traffic a little more difficult as well.

While I'm up there I decide I should make the trip more efficient by making some calls. That's how I found myself in big city traffic in a car that feels like a barge. The whole day felt like I was piloting a barge in tight quarters. You don't realize how accustomed to piloting a small vehicle like a bike through traffic You become until you drive something much bigger.

It felt like there was barely any space between me and the cars in the lanes next to me. Miss a turn and need to get over? Hope Katie packed me a lunch. Could be a while. Parking? Damn, how much room does this thing need, anyway? Expense? The lad who minds the parking garage I use often lets me put the bike next to his shack for free. Right next to his, you know? What do you mean I have to go seven floors up and pay three dollars per hour? Crap, am I going to scrape the front bumper in this tight spiral ramp that takes me back down?

That brings me to the matching scooter thing. I saw three sets of matching scooters parked here and there. I swear I tried to get pictures of all of them. Those little suckers are as mobile as flies. Unlike me in the Olds who felt like an aging buzzard ponderously flapping to get moving. By the time I could find a place to safely park the car and get back the scooters were gone. Except for this set. I finally got smart. When I drove by the first time I threw salt on the rear fenders so they couldn't fly away. Why are you laughing? Haven't you ever done that to a bird?

So that was my day. The best day on four wheels is still far, far behind the worst day on two wheels. There's still an hour of sunlight left. Gotta go ride and shake off the claustrophic feelings!

Miles and smiles,

Dan

5 comments:

Steve Williams said...

Dan: I feel the same way now when I drive my truck--- big, ponderous, and wishing I was on the scooter.

I figure Katie is reading your blog. Your description of conning her into a ride instead of painting made me wonder if you were thinking clearly man giving up your devious secrets. I see in this post you are using your head- sort of. *grin*

Scooters are sweet to get around town in. If work forces you to drive a big vehicle all the time you might have to change the name of the blog to "Musings of a Big Aging Buzzard"!

steve

irondad said...

Steve,
I resent the "Aging" part! Catchy title, though.

Dan

ScooterGuru said...

I'm with you on the barge thing, having owned two Buick Centuries. The last one, I kept through two wives, and rarely drove it because I had a bike. It's a wonder all four corners were'nt bashed-in, as my second wife has depth-perception problems. I dunno about you, but I drive differently than I ride. I'm much safer as a rider.

irondad said...

scooter guru,
I'd like to think I drive well whatever I'm ( or in ). Although I do admit that I'm much more tuned into the fact that if I make a bad decision on the bike it will definitely hurt me. The comfort of a car does lull me a tiny bit. Radio, heater, a once-in-a-while cup of coffee, are distractions no matter how you look at it.

So I guess I have to say that I'm more tuned in on a bike.

Hopefully we aren't safer on a bike only because we can't do as much damage to others with a bike as with a car!

Take care,
Dan

Steve Williams said...

I thought "Musings of Big Buzzard" sounded too "Sesame Street"!

Remember you're not getting older, you're getting better!

steve