Wrenching Jobs

I’ve become increasingly frustrated by my lost time from commuting to work. I lose over 2 hours each day. Recently I’ve been triking both ways, so at least I get to exercise, but I would prefer to choose when and where I go to exercise and to have more free time in each day. That led me to begin looking at other bike shops in the city for jobs.

I began exploring all the bike shops in the city. There are about 20 bike shops in the city, nearly all of them are holes in the wall. Tucked in basements, crammed in small store fronts, minimal space and minimal employment opportunities. I explored 10 of them, of those 10 I applied to 3; 1 took the application and said the owner wasn’t in; 1 asked me to call him and come back another day to work, The last one said they needed a replacement in August but probably could hire me now. Then he told me to go over to his other shop and build him up some bikes.

He liked my work and asked me to let him know when I could come back and try out a half day working there. Mission accomplished, I got 2 out of 3 job offers, and 1 from a shop that I actually wanted to work at.

The following day I was at work and the owner was there, he was talking to both of my service managers (one from UC and one from Glenside) outside. Then he asked me to join them outside. He told me they were hiring a new mechanic to work at Glenside and that I would be able to work in West Philly very soon. They just had to meet the guy and give him an offer. He then asked me if I would commit to stay the rest of the summer.

I stumbled over my words at first and finally said, “I’m not sure.”
He got very angry at first, then in a calmer voice asked, “Why don’t you know?”.
That’s when I spilled the beans and said that I had gotten a job offer at a bike shop in the city
He explained that the owner of the store I got an offer at was pretty nuts (which was certainly true to some extent, but I would say that’s true for most bike shops), he also said that their business was hurting. He proceeded to explain why I should continue to work for him and asked why I would want to leave.
I told him that I didn’t think I was ever going to work in the city, and I wasn’t a huge fan of the types of bikes we sold and that I worked on (high end road bikes).
He said that there was a very good chance I would spend 3 to 4 days in the city and that I would be working on the same type of bikes throughout the city, crappier commuters.
He talked more about his offer.
Then I asked him about hours over the winter.
He said there was a good chance I would get near full time hours
Finally I said, “I need to think about this.” And then I went back inside.

I thought about it and talked to some of my coworkers about it and then went back outside and asked if I could get bumped up to $11.00 an hour (a $1 raise!) He said yes and then I said I was almost certain I would continue working for him.

Not only had I gotten a raise and been transfered to the city. I will spend a day or two a week at Glenside learning more about higher-end-bikes. And most importantly I had won. I was no longer the weak one in the relationship with my boss, instead I was on the same level. He needed me more than I needed him and he knew it; and knew I was more than willing to leave.

I told the bike shop that had offered to hire me my good news. They had a surprisingly awesome response.

Whoa, glad we could help!

More seriously, do keep in touch, maybe we could talk next week if you have a chance. [Our service manager] and the guys were impressed with your work, as was I.

Either way, it was good to meet with you, and if you happen to encounter other mechanics you feel are of your caliber, and that are looking for a shop–please pass them our contact info. If they are as cheerful and “up” as you–that’s also a plus.


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