So I heard this morning that Johnny Cash sang a song years ago about a guy who was building his own Cadillac by stealing parts and bringing them home. And this morning on NPR I heard a story about a workman at a luxury yacht manufacturers who was stealing a 50' YACHT bit by bit, bringing it home in his lunchbox.
They didn't say where he hid the propellers. Or the 50" big screen.
So all this careful gnawing at the roots of the manufacturing world leads me to a confession--one which I'm quite proud of.
See, I built a bicycle one year when I worked for Toys Backward R Us. I was in charge of the storeroom for a while and one day while I was in charge back there some bright bulb at the Corporate Orifice in New Jersey decided that instead of RTVing (Return To Vendor) all these damaged bicycles we kept taking back, we would institute a system by which we REPAIRED all those bikes for resale. So, faced with the daunting task of repairing fifty Barbie bikes, I did what any red-blooded man would do: I started Frankensteining my own bicycle.
I started with a frame from a $69 value mountain bike that had caught my eye. It was a beautiful deep chrome green and bore the exotic name "Zanzibar." That was about as exotic as the bike got, as it was made entirely of thin steel, stamped tin and Mattel-leftovers. That's where I stepped in. I called the manufacturer and ordered a Zanzibar frame. When that arrived, I ordered a nice crank and pedal mechanism from a higher-end bike and installed it. A call a week spread over a few months, to a whole range of manufacturers scored me all aluminum rims, better tires, a gel saddle, and more quick-release mechanisms than a stripper's wardrobe.
And when it was all said and done, I had a Zanzibar that was so light it would float away in a strong breeze if I didn't tie it down, sported forty-seven forward and ten reverse gears, had brakes larger than those on a Boeing 737 and could seat ten comfortably. And to top it all off, it had a $10 price tag--I hadn't realised when I bought the frame that it wouldn't be in the inventory system, and if I sold it to myself as a Zanzibar that'd throw the counts off, and since I couldn't have THAT happen in my storeroom I marked it down to $10 and loaded it up one day. And yes, the boss caught me, congratulated me on my cleverness, and threatened to tear me a new arsehole if I ever did it again.
I had that bike long enough to let a friend borrow it when he went to New Orleans for a job, and he let it get stolen the first hour he was there.
I think there's probably a lesson there somewhere, but I'll be damned if I can figure it.