Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Trying to get things straight…

I was over at the market today trying to find a bottom bracket. For those who don't know a bottom bracket is the ball baring housing on which a bicycle's peddles turn. My frame held up to the abuse those drunken idiots who stole the bike it through but they broke my cassette. However, as this is Belarus, finding a decent bottom bracket can be frustrating because there are basically no European parts (which frankly means: decent parts) and what Russian parts they do have are often not compatible.

There is one guy out tat the market who thinks he is a real hot shot. There are at least seven bike parts guy out there and as they have all been doing their thing for as long as I can remember, I suppose the do a decent enough business. I rode over to see him today on Egor's bike in the hopes that the cheap cassette the hotshot had on his desk would still be available. It was but in the conversation as to whether or not the thing would fit my Schwinn, he allowed a bit too much latitude in his explanation as to why the size did not need to be so exactly right on the ball. Eventually, the problem though depends on two different tools; the bottom bracket and the tool to put it in and take it out. This tool of course also has a specific size and shape and as riding the Schwinn is out of the question because of the broken bottom bracket, solving the size issue could only be served by taking out the broken one and carrying it over to the market and having a look to see if the size and the threads were compatible. Understanding that if it is not the right size we obviously cannot make a deal, I asked him to sell me the BB tool with the provision that I can bring it back if it doesn't work. This he refused to do on the grounds that he might sell them both the next day and he didn't want to break up the set. I pointed out that that crappy cassette he had on his table has been there for at least the month since I got my bike back. I also pointed out that the remover tool was not on his table but in his tool kit which means it never went out with any cassette he might ever have sold. And finally I added that as it is September, the odds of anybody investing in their bicycle is about 5% of what it would be in April so the odds of either piece going straight away were pretty grimm. No dice.

The reason I call him a hot shot is that while dueling over bike knowledge the last time I was with him, he let out that he was an expert wheel man because he once built twenty wheels in a day for Motovelo, Belarus' bike manufacturer up in Minsk. Good for you buddy; slapping pre-cut spokes into three cross on five dollar rims doesn't a genius make; guys I knew who rode all day for money used to pay me to build them one at a time!

Anyway, coming away empty handed I had the idea that really, there simply must be a better way. So what I did was to go on the net and see if any bike parts people had the unit I was looking for. I checked Nashbar, probably the most well known economy parts dealer, but though they have the best prices, less than $20 for a Shimano UN54 or 73, they currently don't have any with 118 or 122 spindles and of course, they won't ship to Belarus.

I had the thought that if they had what I was looking for, I could have had had them ship it to a friend and then have them mail it to me. But then I thought that if my friends would have to get the part in the mail and then go to the post office anyway, what if a bike shop near their houses had what I was looking for? So my next step was to find all of the bike shops in the neighborhoods where and wrote to them via their websites asking if they had what I needed.

So far I have gotten three positive responses. The best prices I have found so far are pretty much exactly what the hot shot wanted for his stuff (not counting postage) and a mild upgrade from just the simple basics to something I would actually trust would be about $30-$35 plus whatever it costs to mail it. I guess there is also the possibility that I could get the bottom bracket key that I gave the bike school back. This is not guaranteed, but it is possible if I can convince the director of the school to either let me in to the bike club or let me have that tool back. Probably this scenario is not all that likely but in any case I am hoping to work this out soon because I am sick of having to share Egor's crappy $140 special. Yes, I am in the end a bike snob. I admit it. Probably I am even proud of it.


At the moment though the big issue is that I am still fighting to find a teaching job. It turns out that the situation with the lower schools is exactly as I described it yesterday and that at least as of the moment, Luba Petrovna is refusing to even think about honoring my agreement with the previous director, Edward Nikolaivich. When I finally got to speak to him at his palatial office at the gymnasium, Edward Nikolaivich told me that there was no job because Luba Ptrovna was against the idea of my teaching because my credential was not from the Belarusian University system. I reminded him that HE WAS THE ONE WHO TOLD ME THAT MY DOCUMENT WOULD BE SUFFICIENT and that I had based my investiture of time and money on that agreement. This however seems to be old news and as of the moment, they are siply expecting me to take it. "All will be ok," he advised me as we parted company, "all will be ok."

I am thinking law suite at the moment because that breech of promise has cost me $500. I had intended to speak to Luba Petrovna this morning but I had to take an early exit as Anya, who was with me because she has been a little ill and therefore not allowed to go to the kindergarten, went into a coughing fit as I was teaching her to draw circles, squares and triangles out in the corridor. However, I am trying to stay calm and tomorrow I am to have another meeting over at the University. Everyone there greeted me with open arms when I first went to them so I still retain high hopes. I have a backup plan of course, what kind of BEING HAD guy would I be if I didn't have one of those? At the moment though, I would be much happier if I can just find a simple teaching job somewhere. This would be the best option. One step at a time though; one step at a time…

More soon…


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