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Checkpoint

TODD SWEENEY'S MOTORCYCLE SALVAGE

TODD HAS AN IDEA

By Matt Cuddy

Todd Sweeney hated Chinese motorcycles. Hated them with a passion.  The only thing Todd Sweeney hated more than Chinese motorcycles, were the idiots who purchased Chinese motorcycles from places like Pep Boys, or K Mart. To Todd, they were ruining his business.

Todd Sweeney was the owner of Todd Sweeney’s Motorcycle Salvage.  At his disposal were used parts, for about every motorcycle ever made. He even had parts for Cushmans, and Sears All-States. But what Todd Sweeney refused to stock were parts for Chinese motorcycles, since they were horribly constructed copies of obsolete Honda motorcycles.

About fifteen years ago, Honda had sold all their obsolete tooling (for discontinued Honda models), to several off-brand motorcycle and bicycle manufactures in Taiwan. These Taiwanese companies had repaired the worn out tooling to some degree. But in a few decades, after the tooling had worn out, instead of scrapping the machine parts, the Taiwanese gave the tooling to Red China, just to get rid of it.

The Communist Chinese, seeing a big chance to sell inferior products to the bourgeois Americans, took the tooling, and instead of trying to repair the severely worn out machine parts, they simply set up machining centers, with the worn out tooling.

That decision produced a slew of out-of-specification engine, chassis and suspension components,  that while selling for what seemed like a fantastic deal to the unwashed masses, was actually a collection of miss-matched parts that under the best of circumstances, produced a miserable little motorcycle. These knock-off Hondas,  leaked, caught fire, broke down and sent engine parts flying through the air, maiming and injuring the rider, and innocent bystanders alike.

 

But perhaps the most ingenious part of this Chinese plan to bilk Americans out of their hard earned cash, was that they offered no spare parts for these unreliable motorcycles, that they foisted off as reliable Honda by-products.  That drove many the owner of these mass produced, ruinous pieces of junk to the Salvage yards. After Pep Boys, Target, Walmart, et al told them they stocked no spare parts, and offered no solution to the problem, except to buy another one, at a discount.

So for about every ten potential customers at Todd’s Motorcycle Salvage Yard, were five hapless ninnies looking for a clutch basket, crankshaft, gearbox, etc. for these Chinese knock offs.  Sometimes the people would get downright nasty, after Todd pointed to a large sign next to the counter that read “WE STOCK NO PARTS FOR CHINESE MOTORCYCLES, PLEASE DON’T ASK!”

But they asked anyway.

Motorcycle Salvage Yards operate on a fine line between making a slim profit, or shuttering the business. They liked to deal in spare parts for the big four Asian motorcycle companies, who all had a good reputation for reliability, and safety. What they didn’t need was to sell parts that were suspect to begin with, that only would cause Todd great consternation when the buyer of said parts, would try and return the merchandise, since it “didn’t fit.”

Sweeney, faced financial disaster every time a Chinese motorcycle owner would walk in, with that same sweaty look of panic on their faces, when their brand new Lifan 150 MX they had purchased from Pep Boys,  for a son or daughter, had exploded in less than an hour.  And the only recourse Pep Boys offered was to “buy another one for parts.”

Poor old Sweeney was at his wits end, since no one seemed to be searching for a fairing for a GSXR, or a side case for a Ninja anymore, just Chinese motorcycle parts.  He had to put a stop to it. But how?

Next to Todd’s salvage yard, was a restaurant whose biggest menu item was the Dollar taco, carne asada, chicken, tripas, lengua, and any combination thereof.  The owner of the restaurant,  was a hard working El Salvadorian immigrant named Jorge. While the restaurant at first had opened to rave reviews, and had lines of people waiting for the succulent soft Dollar tacos, things went bad, quickly.

Unfortunately, sales recently had “dropped through the floor” so to speak, after a few customers had gotten food poisoning from a load of bad tripas, and Jorge was at the verge of closing his small restaurant.

Endless days of Jorge standing behind the counter, head in hand, with no customers to speak of, swatting flies, was a sad picture indeed. Todd noticed what was going on, and asked Jorge what had happened.

“Oh theeze place where I buy the tripas sent me some bad meat, and it made a lot of people sick. Word got out, my food rating went from an “A” to a “D”, and no more customers.”

That statement from Jorge sparked an evil thought in Todd’s fevered brain, and while it was a disgusting, horrible thought, it just might be a way to save the salvage yard, and Jorge’s restaurant, at the same time.  Sweeney tried to push the thought from his mind, but with every new customer asking for a Chinese motorcycle part, it only made the idea more feasible, if not outright reasonable. 

That night, Todd went back to his modest home in Tujunga, and sat down, to draw out the mechanism that would hopefully get rid of people wanting to buy parts for those miserable Chinese bikes,  and save Jorge’s restaurant at the same time. Todd Sweeney’s wife, Cathy, asked Todd what he was drawing, a seeming Rube Goldberg design of trap doors, springs and two overstuffed chairs on a plank, but Todd just mumbled back “It’s a customer issue” and kept drawing. That closed off flood control channel under the Restaurant and Salvage yard might get some use after all, laughed Todd to himself. Indeed it might.