Thursday, December 06, 2012

Lunch Interrupted

In a small retail store lunch is taken when the opportunity presents itself.

The most interesting lunch interruption I ever experienced came after a long series of failed attempts to get some time alone with my sandwich when I worked in a small outdoor outfitter store in Annapolis, Maryland. One after another, annoying people came in with questions that did not lead to sales or to interesting conversations. At last, they seemed to have finished with me. I sat on a stool behind the front counter, my back to the front window and the door and raised the sandwich to my lips. Immediately I heard the clang of the door chime and turned to see a slightly unkempt individual who looked like he could be crazy. He pointed over my shoulder out the window.

"Look, it's the space shuttle," he said.

That's it. He was definitely crazy. Then I turned to look and there was the space shuttle, flying low and slow over the old Parole shopping plaza on the back of its 747 transport plane.

Today's interruption was not that interesting. You can't beat something as weird as the space shuttle, but I have also gotten harder to wow over the years.

We have a pact here at the shop that whoever is eating should have the best chance to finish doing so  before some annoying bumbledub gets to lurch in and demand attention. That being said, a lot of the time I'll be trying to python down my sandwich and everyone out on the sales floor will apparently be abducted by aliens or something. I'll hear the tentative, "hellooooo...!" from the workshop door while I'm sitting a the lunch desk we call the Bayview Cafe.

I'm really good at pretending I can't hear people. It's even better when they can't see me, but not necessary. So when someone came up the back stairs right after I sat down I didn't even twitch when he said loudly, "ANYBODY AROUND IN THE BIKE SHOP?" Let the guy who had just finished lunch take care of it.

He spotted the boss at the front register. The sound of his voice receded. Then the sound of both of them grew louder as they came back.

" son is building bamboo frames in the Philippines. I was wondering if your customers would be interested in anything like that," he was saying. He told a little more about the origins of the company and stated that he thought there were only a couple of other players in the business, "one in California that builds them in Africa and another one in the Philippines."

I could think of Calfee and Panda right off the top of my head. I was pretty sure Calfee was the one doing the bit in Africa. I didn't think either one was in the Philippines. A quick Google search on bamboo bicycles yields plenty of leads to follow to other companies well before getting to his son's. But I don't enjoy blowing people out of the water the way I used to. Besides, Bambike seems like a great little company with a nice philosophy.

The frame was surprisingly heavy. Calfee's site said they engineer the frame to rider weight, so perhaps this one was for someone fairly substantial. Bam is a different company, but the same design principle could apply. I don't know if we could move any here, but as interruptions to my lunch go it was a lot better than a stinky pair of hockey skates, even if it wasn't the space shuttle.

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