Wednesday, November 29, 2006

This is what I made my kids last year for Christmas. It has a 250 watt electric motor and two 10 amp hour batteries. It goes about as fast as I can jog, and has working lights. It's been sitting in our garage for several months now. Unused.

I don't know what to do this year. I want to make something really cool, but I think they're too little to appreciate the kind of things I can make. The other day an elderly woman whose wheelchair I fixed gave them some toys: plastic dinosaurs for Rxxxx, matchbox cars for Dxxxx, and a stuffed toy kitten for Exxxx. Dxxxx said it was the best day of his life. I make the kid a motor vehicle, and a five-pack of matchbox cars trumps it.

Maybe when they get a little older they'll be more interested in the things that interest me. On the other hand maybe they'll just want to watch football on TV all day. Or worse, they might get into Harleys and wear Orange County Choppers T-shirts. Blasphemy!

In my opinion, Harleys are one step above a Rube Goldberg contraption on the scale of engineering sophistication. Today I went to Borders and thumbed through a book on John Deere tractors. They used the same engine configuration for something like 50 years, and still they are more innovative than Harley Davidson. Harley engines are the same low-revving v-twins of motorcycle antiquity, coupled with inadequate brakes and styling so hackneyed that it has become a caricature of itself. But they've used that to their advantage, somehow moving out of the trailer parks and into the garages of lawyers and investment bankers. Case in point: At Thanksgiving dinner my wifes cousin (a graduate of BYU law school) was going on and on about his adventures on Harleys and how great it was to feel the open road. Turns out he rents them on weekends and goes cruising. When he left he put on a leather jacket with the Harley logo emblazoned across the back. I couldn't help but chuckle as I said, "Gary, when are you gonna get a bike to go with the jacket?" I hope he didn't think I was laughing at him, because I most definitely was. I didn't tell him about all the Harley guys that come to the store wanting to rent scooters to take the motorcycle license test. A few weeks ago a guy came in who had actually crashed his Harley while taking the test. They manuever like a freight train. They also brake like freight trains, and are as loud as freight trains. Maybe if I was profoundly deaf, and only needed to go in a straight line without ever stopping, a Harley might be a tolerable motorcycle. Then again a two-wheeled Suburban with straight pipes would weigh less, cost less, and serve the same purpose. But the guys buying Harleys are buying a status symbol, they don't care how they handle, most probably don't know better.

I'm going to stop that tangent now, and go off on another one. Today our helmet rep. stopped by and we talked a bit. He told me that there is a guy in Boise selling Tank brand scooters. For those of you who don't know, Tank=Stank. They are some of the worst scooters "on the road", or maybe I should say "off the road laying in a pool of their own petroleum based excrement." I guess the guy in Boise is doing so well he's going to open three more stores. He's got bankers calling him begging him to borrow their money. He buys the scooters for about $600 and sells them for $1800. Sweet deal.

When will people learn? It's not all about margins. If you sell a piece of crap, you'll wind up stepping in it sooner or later. How many so-called scooter shops have come and gone in the past four years in Utah county? How many used car dealers were selling scooters over the summer and got wise when the scooters started falling apart?

The Scooter Lounge has been in business for four years now. It hasn't been easy. It's hard to compete with low-priced junk. It's hard to stick to principles and good brands with narrow margins when you see these other tools laughing all the way to the bank, and abandoning their customers when the going gets tough.

But you know what? It's worth it. I'm proud of the business I run. I know there's always room for improvement, but I enjoy what I do and I'm proud to wear my Scooter Lounge work shirts each day.

This time of year it's tougher because we don't sell many scooters in the cold season. It's a time to reflect on the year and think of ways to do better next year. I want to thank all of our customers over the years. Many of you are more than customers, you are my friends. I sincerely thank you for supporting our business.

I've often said that I've got no business running a business. I never finished my degree, and even if I had, it would have been in English. I went into business because I didn't know enough about it to know better. In spite of me, the store has been successful. That's because of the good people who have supported us. Thank you.

One of these days I'm going to make up a batch of t-shirts and other Scooter Lounge paraphernalia. If any of you are interested in wearing the company logo I'll make sure you get one. Just let me know.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I have mentioned before that I have Tourette's syndrome. I'm also afflicted with something even worse: Vaginaphobia.

I've spent a lot of thought-energy on this diagnosis. While it's hard to pinpoint the exact moment I became ill, I've identified several experiences that may be responsible for this ailment.

1. My Moms underwear. As a kid I was a bedwetter so I had to learn to load and unload the washing machines with my soiled bedsheets. Often I would reach into the dryer and inadvertently feel the staticky silkiness of my moms special unmentionables. This gave me a serious case of the heebie jeebies. Now my wife wears them. Fantastic. We don't call them the "passion killers" for nothing. It's a wonder I'll even sleep next to a woman who wears the same underwear as my mom.

Once my friend Bren had a peculiar look on his face as he sort-of danced over and said, "Dave, I feel so free. I ran out of clean underwear so I had to wear some that my wife got from her mom to wear when she was too pregnant to fit into her own." I think he must have wanted to see my sensitive gag reflex in action. (Another disorder of mine.)

2. Luisas dirty jeans. My half-sister Luisa was so cool. She listened to cool music. She danced like Madonna. How could I have predicted the look of fear and revulsion she wore when she caught me trying on her sweet unisex Girbaud jeans. "They're dirty," she explained. "So what?" I said. "No, I mean they're really dirty," and she gave me a look that let me know it had something to do with periods and playtex. I was too young to understand the exact mechanics of it, but I knew it was bad, and from the look on her face, I knew I would never touch my sisters jeans again.

3. Zeebo once showed me the toilet. That's right folks, during a nice evening with her family, my high school girlfriend beckoned me to the bathroom where she proceeded to show me a toilet bowl full of an unseemingly large turd and a gory torpedo she had just unloaded. "This is what girls have to go through," she said with an accusatory glare. A normal guy would have run away and never looked back for fear of turning into a pillar of salt. I was too lerpy for that. I thought I had participated in some kind of initiation. It was as if all the cool guys had seen menstrual blood and I was now one with the dudes. I think I walked back to the living room and resumed watching TV with her dad. Inside I knew I would never be the same again. Ever.

4. Meat packaging. You know the Carl's Jr. commercial where the guy is standing in front of the meat counter looking confused and lost? It says, "Without us, some guys would starve." That's kind-of like me. If I had to kill everything I ate, I'd probably be a vegetarian, but it would be easier for me to skin, gut, and fry an animal, than it is for me to peel off the cellophane and lift a steak from the styrofoam plate to reveal the gory maxi pad beneath it. That is probably the grossest product on the market. "What's your line of work, Fred?" "Oh, I make those industrial blood sponges for the meat industry. Nice work if you can get it."

5. T.V. commercials. I don't want to know about feminine freshness, dryness, moisture, itching or chafing. I would much rather remain in the dark about light days, heavy days, and chunky days. It can't be good for a woman's self-esteem to buy the ultra-absorbent heavy-flow extra-large tampons either. I had to buy them once and it was the worst day of my life. My wife sent me to Costco to get them and as luck would have it, they only come in a fifty pound box there. I must have looked really cool pushing a huge cartload of tampons up to the register. I tried to hide them with a flat of muffins but it was no use.

I've gotten fat. I own a mini-van. I'm even losing some hair. But nothing is as emasculating as buying tampons for your wife.

Maybe I'm wrong about this. That's the nature of phobias though. They are irrational. I know in my mind that there's nothing to be afraid of, but that does nothing to keep down the goosebumps.