Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy holidays! - or: how I survived the shop party and saved Christmas for a little girl on Christmas Eve.

The shop has been hopping for the past week. A big thank you goes out to all of the people who came in and, in one way or another, expressed the sentiment that they were trying to do all of their holiday shopping with locally-owned businesses. Amongst all of this holiday shopping, many of our regular customers and friends came by bearing gifts of a decidedly belgian flavor. By the time we shut the doors on Saturday, our 'fridge had to have something propped up against it to keep the door shut!

We had told everyone we could that we would have an informal holiday party during our shortened Christmas Eve hours from 10am to 2pm. Jeff and I were a bit nervous that although people might come, they would also bring more libations with them and our huge collection of belgian beer would not easily diminish.

By noon, no one had stopped by for the party and I quietly went to the fridge, pulled out the first bottle, popped the cork and set out upon the grim business of consuming our Christmas booty. Fortunately, people began to arrive shortly after. Jeff and I were heartily helped with dispensing with all of our holiday good cheer and a good time was had by all.

I got home and hung out with the family. Owen was ripping around on his little trike, his stuffed puppy draped across the bars when there came a rapping, a tap-tap-tapping upon our front door. Golden answered it and told me that our neighbor had an emergency with a Trail-a-bike that they had purchased from the shop. Now I have promised to not use the real name of this neighbor, so let's call him: Farley Chrye. Farley's wife had come to get me and Golden later recounted the look of desperate panic that was in his wife's eyes when Golden greeted her at our door. So I took off to see what was up.

She took me to their neighbor's garage. I walked into the garage and was greeted by the sight of the trail-a-bike lying on its side, a cordless drill with a large drill bit in it, a pair of channel lock pliers, a seat attached to its seatpost and the attachment collar for the trail-a-bike. I turned to her and asked, "what's the drill for?" Now as a long time professional bike mechanic I have come to realize (without a small measure of trepidation) that nothing good ever comes from the introduction of power tools into the bicycle repair equation when a layman is involved. Farley's wife just said, "I don't know" with that tone of voice that drips with the undertone of my-husband-has-done-something-stupid that I personally know all too well.

At this point in the story I must put forth that I am not immune to the occasional stupid act. I have locked myself in the closet while no one else was home, swallowed a nail while doing work around the house and set my porch on fire while trying to start a charcoal grill with white gas. Now I say this to establish that I am somewhat sympathetic to the plight that Farley was in.

Farley came into the garage with his neighbor, Paul. Paul is a nationally-known comedian who for some ungodly reason decided that he absolutely had to relocate to Lenoir, but that's another story... Paul immediately started laughing and explained that he had tried to be the voice of reason. I asked Farley what he had done and why, to which he answered, "I'm an artist not a bike mechanic." Duh. So I replied with, "I wonder what the labor rate should be for an after hours house call on Christmas Eve?"

Now partly out of empathetic pity for the situation Farley was in and mostly because this was a gift for his cute as hell, 4 year old daughter Gwyneth, I said, "Let's go to my house where I have the right tools." On the walk, I was regaled with the tale of how Farley had tried to wedge the wrong sized adapter (he had thrown away the right one) onto his seat post using lavender scented massage oil (Paul kept calling it "love oil" and explained that all of the original "spooge" had come off the post while they were working on it) and using the drill to try to ream out the plastic adapter.

Long story somewhat shorter, I got the trail-a-bike installed on Farley's bike. Farley thanked me profusely and about 20 minutes after leaving my house brought back a portrait of me that he had painted a while ago and gave it to me in appreciation for helping him out. This morning, they came by with Gwyneth riding on the trail-a-bike, a huge grin on her face. Her mom told her to thank me for helping her Dad not ruin Christmas, and she did.

As a postscript to this story, Paul point blank told Charlie that this kind of thing was the "moments that he lives for" and that he would probably be blogging about it, but was definitely going to include this incident in his next book! You can check it out at Paul Stoecklein.

Happy Holidays!
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