SLCB is in the heart of the city and it is like all cities, there are people that are homeless, transient etc. We refer to them as "Toothless Tuesdays" or just "Tuesdays" (based on a Tuesday shortly after we opened the store when everyone that came in for the first 3 hours didn't have teeth.)
We have tried to accomodate them where we can. Many of them have bikes that are either junk or recently stolen and hacked to be non-identified. We set up a stand and tools outside our store that they can work on their own bikes. (you don't have to be homeless to use) We have an air hose outside that they can fill tires for free (7-eleven charges) The frustrating thing is that they are amazing at manipulating people. Their technique is this.
TT: can you fix my brakes?
SLCB Employee: sure...I could tighten this and move this but you really need........it will cost about $10
TT: I don't have no money until the 1st of the month, could you just do it?
Emp: I will just make it safe and better today, for free, but you need to replace......
TT: While you have it there, could you check my pedals, handle bars, and on and on.
My boy Xander pointed it out first that they like to get you to do something that any compasionate, normal person would feel compelled to do. Then they will push and push until you just have to say no. Xander's solution was to say " sure that will be $5". They stop asking because they know that you will turn around and say "everything that this bike needs will be approximately $325
Last week I had a guy come to the store about an hour after we closed. He saw me working at the computer but he was persistent on knocking on the window. Now I know that I have no life but the reason why I stay late after work is because i need to get things done. So after he gave me his filthy puppy dog with no teeth look which melted my icy resolve, I went to the door to see what he needed. He had busted his pedal and really bikes work best with pedals. I told him that the cheapest pedal that we have was $10 and I would install it for free. He immediately told me of the hardship of....(what i heard is how horrible it has been to suck on a bottle when you don't have teeth.) I then went back into the shop and found a beat up old pedal that would work marginally better than nothing (yes we save junk for them) Then I went back out and put it on the bike. I then said: "that should work for you for a while, have a good evening." I turned around and started back inside to finish up so I could go home. Tuesday says "hey could you fix my brake?" My first thought was; would this guy just keep asking until I put his life back together, built him a house, got him cosmetic reconstructive surgery, bought him a sports car and arranged for a trophy wife. My response was: "No, we open at 10 am and I want to get my work done now."
Now I to belong to a christian organization we are taught to do good, but somehow Christ himself would have to say "ok, thats all the miracles for today...run along." (visualize Ferris Bueller at the very end of the movie).
That will be five bucks.