I have become that most elusive and chimeric of characters in the professional world, a consultant. What do I do? Who do I do it for? Some days it mystifies me, too.
What I like about what I do is that it keeps me in touch with a lot of the friends I made in the industry back when I had just one job, the people who taught me what I know and clue me in to what’s going on out there in the cycling wild. As a consultant, all I have to do is consult. I’m not responsible to many customers, and I don’t have to solve any of the complex challenges that are facing manufacturers, distributors, or the shops where the rubber sometimes gets to meet the road.
You can see why I like what I do.
The one constituency I’m not much in touch with anymore is the customer, the bike riding public, unwashed and unworthy in all their roiling beauty. I don’t miss them much, although really it’s the bad ones I don’t miss.
Some of you (abrupt pronoun switch, because let’s be honest, you’re all customers) are good, reasonable, informed, curious, attentive, and willing to listen to expertise. Some of you are not great. You demand satisfaction from people who can’t offer it. You take people who earn a pittance to task for minor infractions of what you deem professional etiquette. Some of you refuse to pay what things cost, abuse your bikes, and then give the mechanic a hard time when s/he can’t turn your repair around in the time it takes to microwave a burrito. You’re no fun to deal with, and you’re the ones who make today’s challenges particularly hard to navigate.
I’d like to believe the lion’s share of TCI readers are good customers, the ones who get it. But some of you, well, you need to relax.
What my network of bike business friends are telling me right now is that everyone has to wait for everything. It’s hard to say what bikes will be available and when. Parts shortages are rippling through every service department in the country. Many shops are hoarding rubber, tires AND tubes.
The pandemic has given many of us more time to ride, but it’s also taken away a lot of equipment options.
This week’s TCI Friday asks, what are you waiting for? Do you have projects in process that are being delayed by the shortages? Or are you quite content with the bikes and accessories you’ve got, pedaling away serenely while the masses leave yet another voice mail for their local bike shop? Finally, are you a good customer, or a bad one?