If you don’t know this about me, I grew up in Los Angeles, CA. While living there I met a few celebrities but I never really worked with any until now. The ones I met were all super cool and very generous. They almost went out of their way to make sure you were comfortable. Recently we had our first celebrity bring a bike in for some service, he picked it up from our shop last week. Our guy was never an A-list, B-list, or even a C-list celebrity. I think at this point he is more of a celebrity in his own mind, the kind you would never recognize but would go oh yeah when he told you what he’s done. You see 40 years ago he was on a cable TV show for a few years and has been riding this wave ever since. He acted just like one would expect a self-important, narcissistic, non-celebrity to behave. He did a lot of talking, and was more interested in telling us stories about all the great things he does than he was in talking about the work to be done on his bike.
What I didn’t expect was how cheap he was. He wanted us to add a brake disc, caliper, master cylinder, and brake line to the front wheel of his hard tail Honda chopper. He also wanted us to replace the pivot shaft on the rear drum brake. It had sheered off while he was riding when the bolt holding the brake brace to the frame came loose. At every turn he would ask how much is it going to cost? He would say can’t we do it cheaper? I understand wanting to know what the cost for a repair will be, it’s why we make detailed estimates. Meanwhile I’m thinking here’s this guy with this pretty expensive looking, custom chopper with a bunch of new parts from Prism Supply. Why doesn’t he want to use cool looking parts if he has the option? Why would you put a stock master cylinder on your bike if you can put a sweet customized one on for a few bucks more?
As you read this, you must be thinking to yourself, this guy sounds like a jerk. (You wouldn’t be the first or the last to think this). It’s his bike and his money, he can do what he wants with it. I agree, but there’s a twist, what happened when he got home was the real shocker. He sent me a text complaining about how ugly the brake master looks, how he could have got the same one for cheaper on eBay and how disappointed he was. To my amazement he asked me for copies of my receipts for the parts, which for me was questioning my integrity. As you can imagine, I was a bit surprised by this because we ordered the parts using the links he sent. He knew what we paid for them. We didn’t charge a penny more. He sent us links to the parts he wanted us to order for him in response to the links we sent to him for the parts we thought would fit the style of his bike and do the job well. In addition to the brake issues, he had an oil leak coming from the left side of the bike that he wanted us to take care of but couldn’t commit to it unless we could tell him exactly how much it would cost to repair. The trouble with this is sometimes we can’t tell you what it will cost because we don’t know how long it will take to repair. It could take 20 minutes, it could take an hour. So we estimate an hour and if it takes less time we charge less. if it takes more time, we charge more. It’s an oil leak that could put you on your ear, we would encourage you to fix it whatever the cost.
Needless to say the whole experience sucked from start to finish! One lesson learned in my lifetime it’s that everyone should be treated with kindness. It is the most generous gift we can give and humble is an adjective we should all strive to use when we describe ourselves. We never know who we are talking to or what they are going through. Regardless how lucky, how endearing, how intelligent, how talented, etc one might think themselves (or not) we all put our trousers on one leg at a time.