I stopped into a local bike shop today, to finally order my new bike. For those of you who don’t recall, I had a little accident last November. I was fine (eventually), but the bike was not. And I’ve wanted to move up to a nicer, more lightweight bike; something I could hopefully use for triathlons after the eye surgery is done.
The good news: the bike is coming in next week, and I even get a choice of two colors (hey, it’s not a component bike; you don’t get a lot of cool stuff to pick from on a racing bike, unless you’re choosing the parts yourself and shelling out thousands).
The bad news: I didn’t rate a whole lot of respect at the bike shop. I’m thinking it has to do with the way I look. The disdain and the brush-off were fairly obvious from the salesperson, whom I happen to know from participation in another sport.
If you see me in person, your first thought isn’t going to be, “Looks like a triathlete to me.” I look more like a spectator. That I have a share of medals and ribbons for running and swimming (none for cycling) isn’t something you’d know about, unless you know me AND you’ve been in my house. The fact is, the size zero, rail-thin athletes among you might be very surprised to find out some interesting things about the rest of us:
- we may not look like you, but we still want to play like you.
- we’re not as good as you, but we’re pretty good at it.
- we’d like a shot at looking and dressing the part, even if it makes people point, laugh, hyperventilate or faint
- we’d prefer to be treated like any other customer. We may not look like a Tour de France rider, but our money’s just as green.
I should be used to this, since I’ve been teased and picked on from a very early age. Usually chosen last for any team game and left to play third string as a kid; harassed from cars while running and ignored everywhere from retail stores to restaurants. It’s a strange thing that while our society is getting heavier (and no, I don’t consider this a good thing, because of the attendant health issues), heavier people are being marginalized more. I cannot fix what society chooses to do. I can fight back and get respect, or I can withhold my patronage of any business that decides my looks mean I don’t belong there.
I do plan on going back and getting the bike, by the way. It’s a small shop, and I happen to like the owner. As it happens, she was not there today, but next week, I’ll be sure she is when I stop in. Will I have “the conversation” with her? Should I?
- Bicycles, Cycling Gear & Equipment Training in New Zealand (waltonchristy012.wordpress.com)
- Come Inside! [and bring your bike] (brickandmortarplaybook.wordpress.com)
- I am a Nuun Winner! (tribeccato.wordpress.com)