Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Bike Shop and the Academic Office

My spouse is in the middle of something he's always wanted to do:  he's riding a motorcycle across southern Florida.  Yesterday it was the Everglades.  Today it will be the Keys.

No, I'm not with him, but that's O.K.  It's good for him to go on his own, before he adds me to the bike.  He needs to get used to the bike.

To do this trip, he had to rent a bike.  He was ready to buy one, but I suggested that he rent one first, just to make sure he could still do it.

Long ago, in grad school, he had a bike.  But those days became these days, plus a back surgery, and I wanted to be sure that this vehicle is still something he can handle physically, before investing thousands of dollars in one.

So, yesterday we went to the bike shop.  Usually I'd write that sentence and mean a bicycle shop--which would be a totally different scene.

No, we went to the motorcycle shop.  We checked in at the gleaming counter.  It looked like a retail establishment like any other.

But then we went to the back to get the bike.  We had to wait a few minutes while guys finished putting a windshield on.  I was the only female there.  It felt like I was the only female for miles.

What different guys they were.  I'm guessing they were all at least 20 years younger than I am.  They worked on bikes with a variety of tools.  They smoked on the job.  I know of about 3 men my age or younger who can work with tools.  Do I know any smokers anymore?  None come to mind.

But maybe these guys weren't so different after all.  At one point, I thought, "What is that oddly sweet smell?"  Sure enough, some of the guys were doing that vapor smoking thing--and not a masculine smelling smoke either. 

I thought about what a different workplace I was witnessing:  guys in jeans, guys with lots of tattoos, AC/DC and Metallica on the stereo, supreme competence/confidence with tools.

Later, as I spent the afternoon recalibrating my Microsoft Office Outlook, I thought about that more down to earth workshop.  Our computers got updated to Windows 2010 on Monday night, and it took me time to get used to the new look and to figure out how to delete my hideous picture that wanted to attach itself to every communication.  I tried to reply to e-mails and more than once ended up sending the e-mail to myself.  Grr.

And then it was time for the daily sorting and shredding.  I need to make room in the one file cabinet I have that locks.  I have personnel files from the coordinator whose position was eliminated that need to come from her old office to mine.  Out went the faculty development files from 2009-2012.  Some of it could simply be recycled.  Some needed to be shredded.

Well, there are worse ways to earn a living.  Still, I thought it was quite a contrast to the workplace I saw in the morning.

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