I recently moved into a new house. The neighborhood is very active and there seems to be a basketball hoop in every driveway. It's one of those neighborhoods where kids actually play outside, for hours at a time. It doesn't matter what time of day it is, there's always someone walking, biking, or jogging. This is one of the reasons we picked where we moved, it's nice to see people of all ages enjoying being outdoors. So shortly after we moved in I decided to buy a new bicycle to toot around the neighborhood and into town on, I haven't bought a new bike in decades.
I began looking for bikes online and what I thought was a snazzy mountain bike was actually called a hybrid bike; half mountain bike and half street bike. Perfect. I also live near a trail that goes for miles, it used to be a railroad track where they took up the rails and repaved it for walking, horseback riding and bike riding. So with a simple click of the mouse I bought a new bike. I also bought a cute little bell, a helmet, and a lock. This is how I stimulated the economy with my stimulus check. It took a week but the box finally arrived, I began happily humming The Wells Fargo Truck is Comin' Into Town. It never occurred to me that this would be something I'd have to put together as I finally opened up the box. But I felt pretty confident with my mechanical capabilities and the first thing I did was open up the assembly manual after I lined up all the tools I'd need. A cold chill ran through my entire body when I realized that the manual might as well have been written in the Martian language. I had NO IDEA what anything meant. This was not the Schwinn Sting-Ray bicycle of my youth. I began taking parts out of the box. I managed to put the seat and the handle bars on and, yes, the little twinkly bell that startled my cats when I rang it. I went to put the front tire on but the brake calipers were in the way so I twisted something with the allen wrench and I suddenly had a handful of precision parts in my hand because the entire mechanism sprung apart before my eyes. That's when I decided I needed to haul it into a bike repair shop. But I'd have to buy a bike rack first so there went another fifty bucks.
I rolled in what I could into the bike shop. The bicycle technician took one look at it and met my eyes quite sadly and asked, "This is a department store bike, isn't it?"
"I guess it is," I told him, "I bought it online. . ." thinking this would ease the blow of my bumpkin ways.
Other customers looked on and I detected an outright sneer from one man dressed up in bike racing shorts and a colorful Pearl Izumi riding jersey.
The technician clucked his tongue and grabbed the bike while shaking his head; "Well, we'll see what we can possibly do. . ." and his voice trailed off as he took it into the back of the shop where they did the repairs. If Alex Trebek had gone into the bicycle field rather than the emcee world, well, this is probably where he would have wound up working. As I followed the technician into the back he kept saying, "If only you spent a little more for a quality bike, you wouldn't be in the trouble you're in right now." I looked around to see if Jack Webb was going to book me on grounds of bad judgement and buyer's regret. I heard about Trek this and Trek that so I finally said, "Look Bub, I just wanted a bike to ride around in the neighborhood on, I'm not in training for the Olympics." He laughed. "Ok, but this is not going to be fun for you! Look how low the handle bars are, look where the seat is. And my God! They used common brake lines for the Derailleur gears!" He assured me it would be ready in a few days, after saying what I should do first is send it back and get my money back. "No, just fix it", I said.
I got the call it was ready and I put my gleaming bike on the bike rack and I drove off. When I got home I grabbed my iPod and put my helmet and sunglasses on. I took my first ride. The gears changed shift smoothly despite the common brake lines. I was having fun. Neighbors waved and I waved back.
Suddenly, my buyer's regret vanished.