Tuesday, June 12, 2007
No Wampum and the Death of the Free Lunch
In the world of big business there is an understanding that palms must occasionally be greased to keep the wheels of commerce running smoothly. The same goes for even the most jaded and introverted of industries, such as the world of cycling. Or, at least that's the way I remember the way things used to work.
The scenario worked something like this: Rep walks into shop for first time in two months and wants to get his account excited about his latest widget. Rep knows owner is the typical industry hack that sees through the bullshit of unanswered phone calls and blown appointments, so he focuses on the malleable alliances of the underpaid and overworked backbone of the shop: The Crew.
Rep arrives an hour and forty minutes late, but, in hand is a large box of bear claws, strudels, and apple fritters. And, if said rep has been around the block a few times he understands that the crew isn't always just a bunch of hungry bastards prone to anarchy, so he'll hedge his compromised position with wampum. Socks, hats, shirts, or other small tokens of his "appreciation for your continued business" would be carefully distributed amongst the greedy horde, thus blinding their skepticism.
It was an arrogant and patronizing display, but it worked. The rep would leave with order in hand and a satiated Crew that once again despised their boss because he never bought them lunch or gave them anything like a free pair of $8 socks. Two months later, the whole wonderfully sleazy courtship began anew.
Sadly, today the status of bike industry rep generosity is dead. The two month stretch of being incommunicado is still common, but the days of free socks, XL T-shirts, and tacky little key chains are over. But, honestly. The hell with that shit. It's the food I miss. The glazed donuts and large coffees. The maxi-pads (strudel with raspberry center) and cream cheese filled bagels. But mostly, I miss the motherfucking beer.
What's going on with these cheap bastards? I refuse to buy into the "I'm broke" argument. I mean, goddamn. You're the one that just drove up in a new Audi A6 wagon and strolled in guzzling down a venti-mocha-double-caramel-pump-no-whip-skim-fruity-as-hell- latte with the equally faggy snickerdoodle cookie. I'm the one that's riding to work, bringing his lunch, brewing his own coffee, and making his wife drive around a used, twelve year old, piece of shit Toyota Corolla everyday to save a few bucks. And, I can still afford to spring for brews or the late afternoon round of sundaes for the Crew once in awhile.
Reps in the old days were a bunch of shifty dirtbags, but at least they knew what the hell kept the biz from spinning off it's axis. When that rep left the shop and I had a belly full of sugary goodness and a fridge stocked with beer, I was his, man. Putty in his hands. Nowadays, Crew and owner are one and the same: A bunch of skeptical, sarcastic, and downright surly sons of bitches that are tired of being blown off because the account two counties over is a "platinum" dealer and we're only "bronze".
Wise up and do your jobs like professionals everyday, chumps. Messing with the stomachs and livers of your accounts is like giving the proverbial monkey a loaded gun. We're gonna go off...someday.