Thursday, September 11, 2008

I like a pretty wide variety of music. This is probably thanks to my parents and older siblings. My dad sang in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for 22 years. He listened to lots of Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. My mom on the other hand loved the Kingston Trio and Peter Paul and Mary. My brother Carlos is a devout worshipper of Dan Fogleberg, and I remember my sisters listening to everything from Chicago to OMD. Also significant to my musical DNA is the fact that as long as I have known him, my stepdad has spent at least two hours a day making mix tapes of his vast collection of vintage country vinyl. Though I found it really annoying as a U2 loving young man, I have even come to appreciate his musical taste.

So when I write a post titled "The Best Song in the World" you better believe I mean it.

This song, today, in my humble opinion is Gypsy by Fleetwood Mac


So Im back, to the velvet underground
Back to the floor, that I love
To a room with some lace and paper flowers
Back to the gypsy that I was
To the gypsy... that I was

And it all comes down to you
Well, you know that it does
Well, lightning strikes, maybe once, maybe twice
Ah, and it lights up the night
And you see your gypsy
You see your gypsy

To the gypsy that remains faces freedom with a little fear
I have no fear, I have only love
And if I was a child
And the child was enough
Enough for me to love
Enough to love

She is dancing away from me now
She was just a wish
She was just a wish
And a memory is all that is left for you now
You see your gypsy
You see your gypsy

Lightning strikes, maybe once, maybe twice
And it all comes down to you

And it all comes down to you

Lightning strikes, maybe once, maybe twice
And it all comes down to you

I still see your bright eyes, bright eyes
And it all comes down to you
I still see your bright eyes, bright eyes
And it all comes down to you

I still see your bright eyes, bright eyes
(she was just a wish)
(she was just a wish)
And it all comes down to you

Lightning strikes, maybe once, maybe twice
And it all comes down to you

Today was one of the few days this year I drove rather than rode to work. As I drove home in the Galaxie after dark, windows down, Gypsy came on. And when Stevies' vocal dropped to nearly inaudible levels at the end of the word "velvet" and the beginning of the word "underground" I was transported to a place I may never have been, but remember just the same. I remember hearing this song as a little boy, as though it were part of the soundtrack of my childhood. I remember a teenage Carlos telling my dad he'd be back in "half an hour" and how suddenly a light went on and I understood what that meant. I remember how brightly Carlos shone before my adoring eyes, how cool he was, and how kind. I don't know if any of this is even real because Carlos was something like 18 years old when I was born, but the memories drive with me as my car rolls across the texture of the road, and the texture of Lindsey Buckinghams finger picking and John McVies Bass.

And I can't help but think that this has got to be the best song in the world as for four minutes and twenty five seconds I am back to the child I was, and Carlos is my unblemished hero. Back years before I learned about the drugs, before I saw the door to his daughters bedroom smashed from its hinges, before I knew anything about him but the feelings this song evokes in me.

I remember Carlos as the one who drove his Trans-Am from Provo to Salt Lake in something like 17 minutes flat, and whose girlfriend cross-stitched me a picture of a little boy fishing.

My big brother

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I just yawned and my daughter said, "Daddy, your breath smells."

"Does it smell yucky?"

"No, it smells like another persons breath. It smells like a person who does Spanish."

Thanks for clearing that up. I guess I'll have to stop brushing my teeth with refried beans. Actually, I have been eating at Maria Bonita lately, so maybe she's onto something.
This is the best craigslist ad ever! (Click to see full-size)

The first time I saw a picture of Sarah Palin, I said to myself, "That lady looks just like Peggy Hill! I should blog about that."

But then I didn't.

A few days later I decided to google "Sarah Palin Peggy Hill" and I found that about one million other bloggers had beaten me to the punch.

Nevertheless, for your edification I present two pictures I stole from the internet:

Then I found a blogger who took it to the next level and pointed out this resemblance:

Pretty good stuff.
Though I've been blogging for a while now, and I can be found linked on other fine blogs, I still haven't put any other blogs in my sidebar. I lurk on several other blogs but seldom comment. Am I a selfish blogger? A blog snob?

I hope not.

I'm not sure where I fit in in the blogosphere. First off, I have testicles. That in and of itself (themselves?) is enough to make me feel marginalized in this society.

Sometimes I feel like I just walked in on a baby shower. Awkward.

I don't want to be an unwelcome guest at anybody's party. I just want to tell the funny and sometimes sad, often disturbing stories of my life.

However. . .

I want to mention that I truly wish Christian and Stephanie and their children and extended family the very best. I don't know them, but I know that a lot of gracious bloggers out there who sometimes visit my corner of cyberspace do know and love them. I hope that I have friends like you, and I hope I never have to find that out through tragedy.

So that's all I have to say.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Part IV (read the first three parts below.)
They've Resorted to Telemarketing

A couple of days ago I got an interesting phone call. The conversation went like this:

"Hi, I was just driving by and saw your store. What kind of scooters do you sell?"

"We sell a couple of major brands. Prices range from about $2700 to $4500."

"Well it's gonna get cold soon. How many scooters do you sell per month in the Winter?"

"I don't see how that could possibly be relevant to this conversation."

"Well let me tell you what I do. For the past 15 years I've been working with companies to bring products in from China. I have brought in all sorts of consumer goods. Some are sold in Wal Mart. But I've been importing scooters lately. I don't know if you're familiar with Motobravo?"

"You mean the scooters being sold by the guy who's going to prison for mortgage fraud? Yeah, I've heard of 'em."

My reply threw him off his game momentarily, but he soon continued, "I helped those guys as well as other businesses like yours to source those products. I speak fluent Mandarin, and I know my way around. I can help you get some of those scooters too."

"Frankly Sir, if I wanted to sell Chinese scooters, I could have been importing them myself for the past six years."

"Actually, that isn't true. You see, I speak the language and I know how to find the best deals. I have years of experience. Importing them yourself is like marrying the first girl you date. . ."

I interrupted him at this point. "Actually I could import them myself. I get emails every day from the factories in China. They all speak enough English anyway, and besides that, throw a rock in the air in Utah County and you'll hit a 'direct Chinese importer' on the head. Like I said, If I wanted to import the garbage you import, I could do it without your help."

I think he hung up at that point, which is a shame because he missed a long tirade about how he better have really good insurance and how he better have his scooters EPA certified, and about the severe penalties associated with importing non-EPA compliant products. I think he would have found it fascinating.
Part III (if you haven't read the first parts read them first below.)
The Flamethrower

The next story began a couple of months ago. A girl who looked like a female Napoleon Dynamite came in with a friend looking for a helmet. (They had been in before looking at scooters, but didn't buy.) When I asked what kind of scooter she had, she told me she had just purchased a Motobravo. (A little background: Motobravo is not a brand. It is nothing more than a sticker being applied to a generic Chinese P.O.S. scooter being imported by some of the fine individuals that helped make Utah the Mortgage Fraud Capitol of the West.)

Sometimes I'm more charitable towards Chinese scooter owners. This was not one of those times. I asked her why she didn't buy a scooter from us. She said she couldn't afford it. So I asked how much she paid for the scooter. She said $1200. I said, "Can you afford to have a twelve-hundred dollar decoration in your driveway?" She looked puzzled so I continued, "Did you know that they buy those things for around five hundred bucks? Did you do any research before you bought it?"

"Well, my friend who knows about scooters said it was a pretty good one."

"Is your friend going to fix it when it breaks? Because the guy who sold it to you on the side of the road, without a dealers license, or insurance, or a store, or spare parts, is going to be too busy laughing all the way to the bank to help you out."

Well, she didn't like being insulted to her face, but she didn't know quite what to say, so I decided to be sporting about it. "Look," I said, "I'll make a deal with you. I'll bet you twenty bucks that your scooter will break down within thirty days. If it doesn't I'll pay you twenty dollars. But if it does, I'll just add it to your repair bill."

Fast forward 30 days. I still hadn't heard from her. So I called her up and said that I owed her $20. She said that it was ok, her mom taught her not to gamble, so she wasn't going to hold me to it. I said that she should just hop on her scooter and come collect the money fair and square, but she was gracious enough to decline. Out of curiosity I asked how many miles were on her scooter and she said about a hundred. I laughed and said that next time I made a bet like that I would have to have a mileage stipulation. A hundred miles in a month is pretty low.

Fast forward a few weeks more. I was standing in front of the store watching someone on a test ride, when this cute blonde runs across State street and says, "Hi, remember me?" I didn't. "You made a bet with my friend that her scooter would break."

"Yeah" I said, "I guess she won. She said the scooter never broke down."

"Well actually, It just broke down across the street. Can you come take a look at it?"

While we waited to cross the street I made conversation.

"At least she won the bet. Though when I called her she had only ridden about a hundred miles."

"Uhmm, well, the speedometer broke a while ago" she sheepishly admitted, but then she added, "but this is the first time it has actually stopped running."

I chuckled to myself as we crossed the street. When I saw the scooter the first thing that caught my eye was the gasoline leaking all over the ignition coil. I removed the rubber boot thats supposed to protect the wires from moisture and a few ounces of gas poured out. I said, "You're lucky this didn't start a fire. Two Chinese scooters have started on fire in my shop this year." (True story. I had to buy new extinguishers because of them.)

The girl who owned the scooter was also at the scene with a can of gas in hand. She insisted the scooter wasn't leaking and that she had just spilled a little gas when she topped it off. I watched it for a while and the steady flow of gas didn't really diminish. She insisted it didn't leak gas, but that was clearly the problem. When the gas had finally leaked down below the defect in the tank, it stopped. I dried off the ignition coil wiring and the scooter started right up. I reiterated how lucky they were that the scooter had stopped rather than gone up in flames. I showed them how when I shook the scooter a bit, gas would leak again because it was splashing up into the area where the leak was. The owner finally admitted that maybe it had leaked gas once before. She then said that one of the brakes didn't work but her friend (probably the same idiot who told her it was a good scooter) had told her that it was just because it was leaking brake fluid. There was so much wrong with that statement I didn't know where to begin. "Well, that brake is your rear brake and it's not hydraulic, so it can't be due to a brake fluid leak. I looked at the cable adjuster and found that it had never been tightened up. After tightening it I looked at the "brake fluid leak" by the front wheel. Thankfully, it wasn't brake fluid leaking. It was just one of the front shock absorbers leaking oil. That problem is a sure fire way to fail a safety inspection, but it's not as bad as a brake fluid leak. Also while looking at the front wheel I saw that the speedometer pinion had basically fallen apart, which explains the defunct speedometer/odometer. It had stopped with 110 miles on the clock.

So now I'm fixing her scooter. It took a lot of effort, but I didn't say "I told you so." No, it was too painfully obvious to everyone how right I was. The scooter is less than two months old and has a leaky gas tank, a broken speedometer, a leaky shock absorber, and a brake cable that the "dealer" never bothered to adjust properly. I hope they realize how lucky they are just to be alive.
Part II (see part I below)
Dave Gets Ornery

This past Saturday morning we got several calls by some people in South Jordan who wanted to buy a blue Buddy125. Everyone working spoke to these people at least once. When I spoke with them, they told me that they were "willing to consider" buying from us, because the dealer in Salt Lake was out of stock on the scooter they wanted for a few more days, but "only if we would match the other stores price and throw in a free helmet too." I informed the customer that I knew for a fact that our price was already nearly $200 less than the other store, and that if they didn't buy it for full price that day, someone else would surely buy it the following day. (That's how it is with the Buddy125, we sell them as fast as we can get them in.)

He didn't like that answer and hung up on me. But his wife called back within the hour and Taylor was the lucky one that answered the phone. Taylor is 15 years old, a great guy, and he treats everyone with courtesy, enthusiasm, and respect. I don't know what he told them, but they must have felt encouraged because they told him they'd be in within the hour. (Taylor was pretty excited. He didn't know that Lee and I had both spoken with the same people and that they were just trying to find the softest person to exploit with their two-bit jedi mind tricks.)

When they showed up, we had a line of customers to help. Of course I didn't know who they were, but I greeted them and told them someone would be with them as soon as possible. The lady angrily replied, "Well we're just waiting for someone to tell us about scooters!" To which I said, "I'll be happy to help you as soon as I can."

A minute later I approached her and said that I was ready to help them. She said she wanted to talk to Taylor. I said that he was out at the moment but that we don't work on commission and I could help her. She said, "Show me the blue Buddy."

"Oh," I said, "you're the people from South Jordan. I've spoken with you on the phone." (At this point my customer service skills went straight to hell. We had already wasted enough time on the phone with these tire-kickers, and if she thought she was going to score points with me by having a nasty attitude, she thought wrong.)

She snarled, "You spoke to my husband." (Thanks for clearing that up, ma'am, I'm a little rusty on the finer points of gender differentiation.) And then she walked over to one of the Buddy150's, which had a huge "SOLD" sign on it, and said, "What about this one?"

I replied "It's sold."

"When will you get more of them?"

"Probably a few weeks. They sell faster than we can get them. Most of the Buddies are sold before they get here. This latest shipment just came in yesterday and as you can see, several are already sold"

"Well how can they be sold before they get here?"

"Because people pay for them in advance. That's how they make sure they get one."

I was hoping that at some point in this conversation these people would realize the implications of "supply and demand" but they didn't. And since I wasn't about to go into another brass tacks negotiation with her husband, I turned and walked away.

We then proceeded to ignore them until they left. Call me the Scoot Nazi if you want, but when you act like a jackass, "No Scoot For You!"