Old Bike Shop Guy In Wan Chai

Yeah, for real finally, we got to replacing Rockstar's blue battered BMX... So we venture back to the original bike store we happened to walk into by fluke first time round, and it's the only one open and bustling late morning last Sunday in Wan Chai.

Rockstar and Bikes

There's a blonde Caucasian family already deep in decision-making when we reach, and at least two local families stop by to try out bikes while we're waiting to be served. It's quite cute, the little local kids will unobtrusively try out the bikes while chattering in Cantonese, then their dads put them nicely back and say "Ok, have breakfast then come back again," and they carry on down the street. Then another old uncle in the street smiles when notice him - turns out he's helping Bike Shop Guy mind the rest of the store while his friend is busily taking apart bicycles for customers on the pavement.

Last time we came, we hadn't realized this is one of the Muslim areas in HK...

Rockstar initially picks a bike bearing some Shanghai company stamp that has lots of Phoenixes on it because it's the only red one in his size and now that he is "in red group in school" (whatever that means), the color rocks. As in, "I'm in red group now. So it's quite a nice color" <serious convincing nodding>. This time last year, he would have nothing to do with the color, because "Red group (last year was) full of girls" <yucked-out face>. Dinner could not be served on red plates.

Attempted arty-farty shot of bike shop card - it's along Wood Road

This card is up here because we felt a bit sorry for Bike Shop Guy who turns out to give real good service (to us, anyway). Very local Canto-speaking old timer whom we hadn't realized spoke any English until now as we watched him serving the Caucasian family (whose only voice we hear is the mum's, though there are 2 boys and the dad there too). He speaks shaky but functional English, and is surprisingly polite and patient, for such a "local shop old guy" (<sheepish> from previous encounters I kinda expect them to be grouchy or impatient or loud or all of the above by default) - to the point Kings remarks, "(Blonde mum's) really rude. I'm surprised he is so nice to them."

Throughout the time it takes us to park (right in front - hurray for quiet Sundays haha), run around the corner for a bun (well Kings ran, I sat in the car, Rockstar goggled the bikes) because just after early service we're hungry, Rockstar making a beeline for Phoenix Bike, then deciding on Black BMX when he realizes flashing red tail lights look better on it, we watch the blonde mum have this old guy take out numerous bikes to compare the width of the handlebars, then take apart the bikes to switch the handlebars around for them to try again, then roll out other bikes..... after which she then walks off down the street to see if any other bike shops are open.

To be honest, we did that too, early on (Phoenix bike!! Horrors!! I'm gonna be Mum With Kid On Phoenix Bike in our neighborhood <cringe>. I mean it's a nice bird, but can't they do like, fake swooshes or something?)

But then... we kinda figured Ok, let's just try and buy something - the black BMX - from him. It's a Sunday morning, most other shops are closed, we've been talking about replacing the bike for ages, and here's this old guy with everything but the kitchen sink excavated out onto the pavement of his shop and still being ordered.

No, this does not make us good people:

It wasn't blonde mum's many requests that raised our hackles - not even the lack of any "please" or "thank you" that we could make out - though interestingly the declaration "If we are spending <emphasis> five thousand dollars, I want to make sure we're spending right," is impossible not to hear wherever you were standing in the shop - it was her tone throughout, when she was asking him to do umpteen things. You can ask for a lot of things, you can expect service - nicely. 

(We were quietly going "Erm, so obviously you think "<emphasis> five thousand" is a lot of money then....." Y-eah sorry - I'm snarky because I have no respect for people who do that. I always think it's the ones that lack substance that feel the most need to show off (which of course makes me judgmental and imperfect myself - Hi, have we met?)

But while I'm married to Neanderthal Man <grunt, snort> Indiscriminate Buyer of Laptops And iPads, Insensitive While Absorbed In Berry, Weirdly Passionate About Ridding World Of Doghairballs - it's never I Am Spending Money. Look At Me, Kow Tow, Worm. One of the things I love most about Kings is regardless how much he spends, he expects the same level of service.

Anyway. No idea if there's much in the shop that really costs that much (from the pic does it look like a pro-biking shop where they carry state of the art stuff?) I don't like cycling. I don't know bikes. They have handlebars. They have wheels. Who cares. Us class-less bike buyers. What I would care about is the helmet/ any other safety equipment. That's the price you set on your head (sorry, unfortunate pun). Rockstar's helmet is from Bumps to Babes, we don't buy pirated in kucing kurap store. He gets serious and faster on that thing when he's older, I'll go looking in the pro bike stores - for the helmet, anyway. And maybe the brakes.

Rockstar's BMX (which we expect to last a year+; he trashes bikes with all the falling down but how else is he going to learn) was HKD 1,000. We added some battery operated lights for HKD 300. Done. That's your early birthday present, Rockstar, because we don't want that thing in the apartment under the tree.

Round a corner... And this is not the pic Rockstar wanted, he wanted me to use one he took with a squished dead cockroach in it. Oh the joys, of raising a boy.

With blonde mum round the corner looking for other shops, bike shop guy deftly fixes all the extra lights watched avidly by Rockstar, then advises us against removing the training wheels altogether, instead pulling them up maybe 1-2 inches higher so they're still there when Rockstar needs em. Then he hands Kings his card, "I'm always here if you need any adjustments. Or, call me."

As we leave, blonde mum returns, and resumes asking for adjustments on their bike... Absolutely no idea if they bought anything. Almost want to ask Kings if we can swing by next weekend to ask Bike Shop Guy, then we can all take bets.

Ps: Blonde mum got my attention because living here you usually expect China customers or the very local shops to be rude if you only speak in English and they have problems understanding you. When I first got here, I got told off in a little Causeway Bay boutique when I asked if a pair of jeans was on sale in my dodgy Canton + mostly English and they mistook that for haggling, "This is not China ok." (They were sorry for the misunderstanding after Kings explained).

Shopping in the high end stores in Beijing on the other hand, my girlfriend recently remarked to me the service in HK is way better. Salespeople in the stores in Beijing are just There's the goods. Take it or leave it. And it's not high street they're selling, it's Chanel, LV, Dior...

Related posts:

About Aileen

I blog about living and raising my son in Hong Kong - where toddlers have entrance interviews, parents keep test score spreadsheets, private school debentures can trade for more than half a million USD. Raising Rockstar's the most important thing I'll ever do. We show our true colors by the choices we make in bringing up our children. My blog is a message to my toddler son, about what the world and his parents are like today - for when he becomes a teenager and knows everything.
This entry was posted in Rockstar Shopping, Rockstar Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • CA

    I had been brought up to mind my Ps & Qs and to always be polite to everyone but especially to those who are older than me or those who are helping me do something. So, unsurprisingly, I’ve always believed that you can judge a person’s character by how they treat someone who is providing them a service, be it a waiter/ waitress, a doorman of a building, a shop worker, the maid…and I’ve yet to be proven wrong by this. Simple politeness doesn’t require any money, nor any extra energy, so why do so many people struggle to be polite to others?

    I get extremely frustrated by the number of times I’ve witnessed in HK,, such impolite behaviour by caucasians who are obviously still under the illusion that it’s still the early colonial days and they can rudely lord over others just because they’re not caucasian and don’t speak English to a native standard. Having more money to spend doesn’t give one the automatic right to be an ass (hope it’s this ok to use this word here but if not, please replace) and treat others like rubbish. I hope that woman’s children don’t turn out to be like her.

    Btw, you may find that a lot of the local old timers here may understand and speak better English than younger ones and that they’re more willing to try and speak English, even if it’s not entirely fluent.

    PS. Perhaps that bike cost the blonde woman $5k because the old guy had added his special service charge/tax for such customers to cover the extra grief he has to suffer whilst being at her beck and call when she was in his shop? I hope so. Yes, I’m being judgemental, but aren’t we all? 

    • http://raisingrockstar.com Aileen

      Thanks for another great comment to help me flesh out the post.. Being BBC yourself, I wonder if there’s a difference between how people like that might behave in say, the UK with Asians, vs how they behave in Asia with Asians…
      For me in HK through work and now not, if there’s one thing I learnt it’s never to judge a book by it’s skin color – the range of “niceness” and “not” for all kinds of ppl seems far wider in erm, “more outspoken HK” as compared to say, when I worked n lived in Singapore or grew up in Malaysia…

      • CA

        Well, I suppose if you’re always going to treat people with a different skin colour to your own as inferior and be rude to their face, they’re going to be consistent and behave rudely regardless of whether they’re in the UK or in Asia, but the amount of rudeness may be less explicit in the UK but who knows? Such people are obviously weighed down with a huge giant chip on their shoulders so perhaps we should be nicer to them and more understanding of their situation.

        NOT! Such behaviour is a reflection of how they were brought up and how prejudiced, close-minded and uneducated (in the wider sense of the word rather than on plain academic results) they really are.

      • http://raisingrockstar.com Aileen

        I actually don’t even think they are “very” educated anyway if they can be that openly close-minded… Not really that “fashionable” among high flyers and the like to be close-minded, not with the world becoming a much smaller place… 

        I do wonder if there are a select number of Asians around who however cater to it by treating certain skin colors as “superior”… Sometimes I see it in the mummy circle and obviously I find it disgusting… 

  • http://lifeafter38.blogspot.com/ zmun2

    Any photos of Rockstar on his new bike?

    • http://raisingrockstar.com Aileen

      Oops!! You’re right I have no pic of his bike! Working on it…