I believe that we, as a civilization, are in a new golden age of customer service thanks to the Internet. Any person who is disgruntled with a company’s services can make a video about it, spread the word far and wide, and perhaps even get enough attention to become gruntled. Sometimes, though, consumers get riled up over nothing.
Such is the case with a video I saw yesterday and the cycling community. First, take a look at the video in question:
As you can see, the driver in the car is worked up because he’s stuck behind a cyclist who is riding slowly up a hill. If you scroll down and take a gander at the comments, you’ll see that they are full of pedal-powered outrage and calls to boycott QT. I’m sure that QT fears a cyclist boycott. Glass water pipe manufacturers probably also live in fear of being boycotted by people who use their glass water pipes purely for tobacco.
If you ask me, there is a cycling community, there is a glass water pipe using community, and there is an outrage community. Not everyone who is in one group is in the other two, but some might even be in all three, even though the glass water pipe people seem to prefer cartoons to getting all hasty. The outrage people are not that fun to be around, and we don’t have to listen to them.
Furthermore, it is annoying to be stuck behind someone riding slowly, especially if the added delay is keeping you from having time to eat breakfast. The cyclist shown in the video is riding like he’s at the front of a parade column. I would be annoyed to be behind him, I have no doubt, but that might also be thanks in large part to the way he is dressed. This brings me neatly to my next point.
The man is dressed clearly as a buffoon. He’s wearing not one but two helmet mirrors, a ballcap under a mountain bike helmet, and his bike sports an orange flag and yellow panniers. The makers of the commercial are giving us every visual cue to let us know that this is an outlandish person, possibly even from an alternate universe. If they wanted to make fun of real city cyclists, he’d be wearing shorts from Urban Outfitters, no helmet, Ray Bans, and a Chrome shoulder bag and he’d be riding at top speed through a red light. They did get the iPod headphones right, however.
The washed out colors reinforce the alternate universe theory slightly further to me, but the most important point here is that the driver does not honk at the rider. Not one honk! All he does is rage silently in his own space, which is every American worker’s right. He also does not rev his engine, or wait for the cyclist to drift slightly right and then roar dangerously past with inches to spare. All of these are things that actual drivers on a real road in this universe are quite likely to do. It’s for this reason that I think this commercial is actually pro-cyclist.
Note that you can hear a honk at around 00:16, but it is clearly a foreign car honk, not an American car honk, and likely comes from the BMW a few cars back. Everyone knows BMW drivers are jerks. Haha, just kidding triathletes!
As I say, QT probably will never care that a few cyclists got their helmet mirrors ruffled, but if anyone from QuickTrip is listening, just know that at least some of us are getting your pro-cyclist message, as well as your clean bathroom message. I will continue to shop and urinate at your fine stores for years to come, I have no doubt.