Friday, February 29, 2008

Scooters and Art

Have I mentioned lately, how much I love my new job?
I'm sure I probably have, but today was the best day yet at work.

The day pretty much started with delivering a vintage Vespa to a customer in upstate New York. It was the first time I'd done a delivery, and I was very nervous about driving the shop truck with the hydraulic ramp. Plus, having just moved to New England, I'm not familiar with all the back roads and all that.
But Mapquest steered me right for once, and I had no problem finding the place. My problems began when I unloaded the scoot, and the customer asked me to start it up for her. The scooter was a mid 60s VBB Vespa that had been extensively restored in Indonesia. If you know much about Asian scooter restos, you probably know where this is going... On top of that, it was about 10 degrees out, not the best environment for any vintage two-stroke. Plus, the danged thing was flooded from the jostling of the trip.
Well, long-story-short, after about a half hour of kicking my left leg numb, and pestering Larry with stupid questions, hoping I was missing something obvious, I couldn't get the scooter to start. The customer, understandably, didn't want to accept delivery of a non-starting scooter, Larry even dishearteningly agreed that maybe I should bring it back to the shop.
I wasn't ready to give up though, having dealt with hard-starting vintage Vespas, and luckily the customer had a friend on-hand who'd had alot of experience with 2-stroke bikes. Between the two of us, and a can of starting spray, we got it to turn over.
Still, after taking it down an initial down the drive way, I wasn't confident. The bike was really cranky, and I wasn't confident enough in my mechanical analysis, or driving ability on a gravel driveway coated with icy compacted detritus of being snow-plowed, to really put it through the paces. I suspected the bike just needed a an "Italian tune-up", but really didn't want to drop it in the customer's drive way.
Luckily, her friend, who has probably been riding longer then I've been sucking fumes, decided to take it for a test ride, before we loaded it back on the truck. He kicked it over, and tooled out the long driveway onto the winding country road.
When he pulled it out of ear-shot, the customer and I both got a little concerned. We thought maybe it had died on him. But we got the opportunity to chat for a bit. Turns out, she is a portrait painter, and has a sidecar for scoot. Her plan for it is to load painting supplies in the sidecar, and use the scoot to paint on location.
Now, if you know the Dragon at all, you know this idea immediately made me very fond of this customer. I've have done extensive dreaming myself on how to tweak a scoot to be a Artistic Assault Vehicle. My current scheme, however involves an MP3 500 and one of these:

Oh yeah baby! Now that's $240 worth of pudding! Oh yeah!

Anyway, once the customer's volunteer test rider returned, he declared the scoot to be in good operating condition for what it is, a forty-year old 2-stroke Vespa on a cold New England day.

So I had a good time chatting with these folks. Especially the way the gents eyes lit up, and he did a little swaying dance when he talked about the possibility of getting a Mp3 500, sometime in the future. I hear ya, brother, I hear ya.

When I got back to the shop, another cool thing happened. A local architect, who's been in at least once kicking scooter tires, came in. Jim greeted him, and he asked Jim if he was "Psycho-Elf" on Modern Vespa. I poked my head up from what I was dinking with on the computer, and said, " Do you mean Punkelf?"
That's right, for the first time, somebody came into the shop looking for me, by internet reputation.
Needless to say, I was quite stoked.
Have I told you lately, how much I love my new job?

No comments: