A recession is a great time for bargain shopping so when I saw an ad in my daughter’s elementary school newsletter for inexpensive bicycle helmets, I not only bit, I chomped off a huge mouthful of the bargain. I approached my husband with the details of the impressive deal that listed two adult helmets for $15.99.
“What do they look like?” my husband asked as he grabbed the order form out of my hand and scanned it quickly. “Are these crude cartoon drawings supposed to be the helmets?”
“Yes, but they look just like any other helmets,” I answered as I took the form back and began filling it out. “Besides, a helmet is a helmet and this is a great bargain!”
Two weeks later, the helmets arrived. I ripped open the package and stared. “This is not what I was expecting,” I muttered as I pulled one of the helmets out of the box and slipped it on my head. Something definitely didn’t feel right. As I walked over to the mirror to take a look, I braced myself for the worst.
I gawked at my reflection. I looked like a jockey about to run my horse in the Kentucky Derby. The helmet sat cockeyed on top of my head like a soup bowl turned upside down. Apparently, $8.50 didn’t buy a snap-fit visor or multiple vents—just a big hunk of unattractive plastic.
Just then, my husband walked in the door. He took one look at me in that helmet and burst out laughing. “Don’t tell me,” he said, “This is the bargain helmet?” He took the other helmet out of the box and placed it on his head. “I can’t go out in public anymore on my bike,” he added sadly as he looked in the mirror.
“Let’s just take a test ride with the new helmets and see how we feel afterwards,” I suggested.
“Can we leave in the dark of the night?” he asked warily.
I shook my head as I took his hand and led him to the garage. We wheeled our bikes outside to the driveway and adjusted our helmets. Just then, our neighbors rode by on their shiny new touring bikes while wearing fabulous vogue, and obviously more expensive helmets. They lifted their hands in a wave, smiled, and then …
Do you know the moment when someone sees something they can’t believe and their entire facial expression changes from a friendly grin to an incredulous glance in an instant?
Our neighbors sped into their garage and quickly shut the door. I swear I heard hysterical laughter coming from their house a few seconds later.
“Stupid dorky helmets,” my husband grumbled as he took off on his bike. I pedaled furiously behind him with the wind in my face—my helmet straps slapping against my chin.
“This isn’t that bad, is it?” I yelled over the breeze. “How does my helmet look?”
He turned back to look at me and pulled his bike over to the side of the road. I stopped behind him just as my helmet slipped to a new precarious perch on the side of my head. As my husband wiggled my helmet back to its original soup bowl position, he asked loudly, “How does it feel to be the new Queen of Dorkville?”
“Very funny,” I replied. As I pedaled back home behind the new Mayor of Geektown, I had already made up my mind—a new helmet purchase would take me right out of Dorkville and into Coolville, despite the fact that as I rode quickly up the street to my house, my helmet had slipped into a position that made me look like I was wearing one giant plastic ear muff.
A recession is a great time for bargain shopping … just not when it comes to bike helmets.