As strange as it may sound, seeing men dressed head to toe in spandex became an everyday occurrence for me three years ago, but that's what happens when you live in a world of cycling. I drove past the little bike shop on the corner of Main Street almost every day though I would never step through that hideous mauve door into a world that I wanted no part of. Bicycles were not for me; it was my brother's world, a world with foreign customs, etiquette and even language. I would be much more content to stay in my world and flip across a four inch beam than ride some metal put together on two wheels. My inability to find a summer job led me to this peculiar opportunity, or as I saw it at the time, this particular form of torture. My brother was just trying to help me out, and Corner Cycle needed a new employee. I was the girl for the job.
That was the other problem; not only was I going to be working with bikes, but also with six other guys and no girls. I was the minority, the youngest by several years and only the second girl in Corner Cycle's history. I couldn't imagine being able to talk with them or being friendly with them; all I saw were cyclists... spandex wearing cyclists. The more I thought about what I had gotten myself into, the more I dreaded the quickly approaching Sunday.
As my brother led me over to the rental shop, the place that would become my torture chamber and sanctuary all at once during that first summer, I reminded myself, "mind over matter"; I could make this so it wasn't a big deal. He showed me how to work the computer and explained to me the procedure for when a customer came in. After an hour long tutorial filled with fast paced customer interactions he left me on my own to face the savage tourists, forgetting to tell me that I could call on the intercom if I needed help.
It wasn't only a huge adjustment for me, the other employees of Corner Cycle had to change their ways also. It was common for all conversations to stop when I walked in the room. It wasn't because they didn't want me there, but because they knew I was still a young girl. They had to censor themselves around me because most of their conversations were too inappropriate. Even with this complication I was able to break through the barrier and bond with my coworkers. I don't know how it happened, but they were able to stop seeing me as an alien, they saw me for what I am, just a girl; and by the end of that summer I was able to see them as people, not just spandex wearing cyclists. Now, in my third summer there Corner Cycle has become a haven, my home away from home, and the employees have become my second family. They've stopped being so careful around me although they are all protective of me, like I'm a younger sister. If I hadn't suffered through the week before I started working or the first few hours, I never would have obtained this new haven or six very protective older "brothers" in addition to my real brother that got me started there in the first place.
Behind that hideous mauve door I learned to take chances and go deeper than exterior appearances. Now that mauve door isn't offensive to the eye, it's a welcoming to a place that feels like home.