October 3, 2017

"Many times things have happened like I’ve gotten a flat before an important meeting and arrived with my hands covered in oil and grease."

"Most of the people in the company know that I’m a cyclist. I’m that sweaty person with his hair always wet."

And: "I’m really sweaty... and then I’ll stand in front of the air-conditioner for like five minutes. Everyone in my office just understands that I have to do that because I ride my bike to work.”

From "Biking to Work, Arriving in Style" in the Men's Style section of the NYT.

66 comments:

Big Mike said...

Note to potential bosses: do not schedule an early morning meeting with this dude.

rcocean said...

Strange. I always took a shower or at the very rinsed off and toweled down if no shower was available.

But its the NYT, so there's that.

Henry said...

Getting a flat on the way to work sucks. So replace your tires at reasonable intervals and use puncture-resistant inner tubes.

rehajm said...

That's gross. How about moving where you live closer to where you work or vice versa?

Henry said...

Subways can also be very sweaty.

Freeman Hunt said...

The people in this office sound awfully nice.

LYNNDH said...

So "don't mind me, I will just impose stinky self on all of you for my choices", right?

rhhardin said...

I biked to work starting in 1971 and never stopped. On nice summer days I'd take a 50 mile route each way (summer so that it's warm and with lots of daylight).

Ride slowly at the end to evaporate the sweat off.

Also wear bermudas at work.

rhhardin said...

Sweat doesn't automatically smell. We'd all be in trouble if it did because sweat is how we regulate temperature.

Ann Althouse said...

"The people in this office sound awfully nice."

Some people who use the phrase "everyone just understands" are kidding themselves.

That makes me think of an "Ask Amy" letter that appeared recently (in WaPo):

"I am a young woman on staff at a small nonprofit organization focused on elementary schoolchildren. Our executive director, a much older man, is very nice and well intentioned, but continues to make inappropriate clothing choices for his body type. He is single and lives alone, so has no one at home to tell him that his shirts are much too small and that the bottom of his rotund belly is constantly exposed. This makes everyone on our board and staff visibly uncomfortable.

"Our staff has discussed the issue, and one colleague already informed him that he needs to be wearing different shirts around our young visitors.

"Unfortunately, the advice did not stick, and he has returned to wearing the same old ill-fitting shirts around town and to work events. I feel my approaching him would embarrass him, more so than if one of my older or perhaps male colleagues took him aside. Is there a good way for one of us to gently suggest he go shopping for clothing that fits?"

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/ask-amy-wronged-wife-stalks-husbands-former-girlfriend/2017/10/01/41eb34ee-9fdb-11e7-9c8d-cf053ff30921_story.html?utm_term=.0e558302efa7

Henry said...

Even if your office doesn't have a shower, it's really not hard to have a towel and washcloth at work and wipe down your face and upper body in the rest room.

Lyle said...

Sartorial decorum takes time, effort, and a modicum of money.

I am contemplating biking to work some. I can't do it year round. It is Texas. I can save a few dollars though, and the sartorial decorum at my current office is not high.

MikeR said...

Bad idea. Biking is very unhealthy. I have seen statistics that the occasional major injury outweighs all the gains from the exercise.
Friend of mind was an avid biker. He was in great shape until he was crippled by a car.

rehajm said...

Is there a good way for one of us to gently suggest he go shopping for clothing that fits?

Intervention

rcocean said...

"I feel my approaching him would embarrass him, more so than if one of my older or perhaps male colleagues took him aside. Is there a good way for one of us to gently suggest he go shopping for clothing that fits?"

Embarrass him? LOL. The guy hasn't gotten the message. Someone needs to tell straight out, in no uncertain terms, that he needs to change. The same is true of a co-worker who continually stinks. Tell the guy, in clear and unmistakable words, that he needs to shower after the bike ride.

A lot of HR problems are caused by people who "hint" and "Suggest" or even worse, think their co-workers can "mind-read" them. This is especially true when women are dealing with men. Don't know why.

exiledonmainstreet said...

At my old job, I used to ride my bike to work in nice weather. The heat was not normally much of an issue in Wisconsin at 6 am and I didn't care about getting sweaty when I left in the evening. It was a very pleasant way to start the day since I took a bike trail through a park. In every office I have worked in, I have known people who have biked to work. They arrived on time and if they needed to change or freshen up they got to work a few minutes early and did so. They were no sweatier than the people who walked in or took the Metro to work on 95 degree days in DC.

If you can do it without being late and imposing on your coworkers than do it. That means making sure your tires are in good condition so you're not fixing a flat when you should be at work.

It's a pretty mundane thing and one most adults can handle without creating office friction. If your way of commuting to work causes drama, then find another way to get to work.

Achilles said...

I have ridden a bike to work. My metabolism runs high and I sweat more than most.

Baby Wipes.

If showers weren't so nice I wouldn't mind going through life wiping down with baby wipes. It is how you make it out in the field. E-tools are carried around to bury them. You can get just as clean with baby wipes and they are really nice when paired with toilet paper after...

mockturtle said...

Everyone in my office just understands that I have to do that because I ride my bike to work.

What they really understand is this guy signalling his virtue.

Chris N said...

Sounds like another angel headed hipster burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night.

Or another bit-of-an-asshole meekly fitting his lifestyle choices together with the swells of current and popular opinion.

How very brave

Chris N said...

Take a shower, asshole, and do your job.

Or find another one.

Or really go write something worthwhile and leave the rest of us alone.

HD Turkin Jr said...

"Look at me! Look at me!" - the bike commuter.

Greg Hlatky said...

Being profiled in the New York Times makes you instantly punchable.

gspencer said...

Years ago I realized I would never be competing in the Tour. And I too got sick of changing tires. On the Tour you're really, really treated nice. They have teams and teams to take care of those messy things. Get a flat. They give you a new bike to complete the race.

Anyway, I found this puncture-proof lightweight tire from Green Tire (no, the tires weren't green in color). I don't now know if the company is still around because the tires keep going and going.

mockturtle said...

gspenser, when my husband and I rode bikes here in the desert, we got puncture-proof tires because of the 'goat-heads' and other hazards. Can't remember what the tires were called but we never had another flat.

exhelodrvr1 said...

I used to ride my bike about 12 miles to work - I did my co-workers the favor of taking a shower.
Changed my share of flats, too. At times while holding a flashlight in my mouth.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Baby Wipes.

My teenagers are involved in activities where they practice outdoors in the Texas heat for hours, and one in particular has some kind of weird body chemistry that makes her absolutely reek. If they don't have time to take an immediate shower I have trained them to take a field shower wherein they wipe down their nooks and crannies with baby wipes and reapply deodorant. Helps some.

Some people are unbearable to be around when they sweat; others you can't even tell they've exercised even if they just ran ten miles. Just depends.

Michael K said...

A doctor friend of mine used to run to work every day. He had a shower in the office and, I think, kept his "doctor clothes" in the office.

In southern California, weather was not a problem and I don't know what he did in rainy season.

Michael K said...

My runner friend, when we were residents together (He is an internist and I was a surgeon), carried a small portable typewriter with him and typed all his chart notes. This was back in the late 60s.

He was really obsessive compulsive then and the running to the office was probably predictable.

Robert Cook said...

"Bad idea. Biking is very unhealthy. I have seen statistics that the occasional major injury outweighs all the gains from the exercise.
Friend of mind was an avid biker. He was in great shape until he was crippled by a car."


What you describe does not mean biking is unhealthy. (It is not unhealthy, just to emphasize that.) It means that anyone can be involved in an accident. Pedestrians standing or walking on a street corner can be injured or killed by a car whose driver loses control and drives up on the sidewalk.

Life is unhealthy, because we all die from it.

tcrosse said...

I knew a Commander in the Navy who had been shit-canned from the Submarines because he smelled like a barn, no matter how much he showered. This did not make him any more pleasant to be around on a surface vessel.

Robert Cook said...

I bicycle to work several days a week, weather and other considerations permitting. It's about 7 miles each way. I get in to work very early, usually an hour and a half before the office opens, and I have my work clothes rolled up in a bag in a plastic crate on my back bike rack. I cool off in the office well before anyone else comes in and am fresh and changed by 9:00 AM.

Expat(ish) said...

@RobertCook - ditto. I live in "the SWF" and 6 months of the year the ride into work is perfect. But then I push it to see how fast i can go so I'm still sweaty.

I have to have 45 minutes to cool off and change. If I run out of time, I drive.

I can't imagine hanging a sweaty t-shirt over the common HVAC. I'm sure the t-shirt was made with organic, fair-trade, profit-free cotton, so there is that.

-XC

PS - I switched to the Alfine internal hub system with a Gates carbon drive belt. Zero maintenance bike, except to add air to the puncture proof tires. Fantastic!

Unknown said...

You'd be amazed at how many flat tires (and similar inconvenient events) occur on exam days.

Virgil Hilts said...

Robert Cook, same here although I have an electric hybrid (which makes the commute faster and a little less sweaty). I keep one of my cars at work in the garage in case I need to go somewhere in work clothes.
One of the statistics people don't know - there are over 200 million e-hybrid bicycles in use or that have been sold in China. In the U.S. we are only selling I think about 60,000-70,000 a year. Sales in Europe are way ahead of the U.S. If you live less than 10 miles from work, an e-hybrid bicycle makes a great commute.

Jaske said...

I did a job at a plant that had shower stall for emergency was downs (for boiler chemicals). Bikers at the complex were allowed to use it. They were all pigs, left their mess for the plant operators.

Meade said...

"I'm on a bike!" (Never gets old.)

Meade said...

I try to limit my bike riding to places cars can't go and go in my car places bikes aren't safe. FREEDOM!

Meade said...

Guys: for the problem of body odor, try showering before physical exercise. Your pheromones won't then be competing with stinking microorganisms and the chicks will be back

chuck said...

There were some serious bike riders where I worked. They used the machinists' showers and kept a change of clothes in their offices. The NY Times guy sounds like a preening, precious sort, but maybe that is what is expected of an article written in a woman's paper.

Ann Althouse said...

Employers should be required to have a shower available to employees. That should be right up there with rooms for breastmilk pumping.

Ann Althouse said...

Especially for women.

Maybe it works for male employees to stand in front of the air conditioner to dry off or to use baby wipes as someone upthread wrote, but it's not adequate for women. In the interest of substantive equality, shower rooms must be provided for women. I'm playing the woman card and calling sex discrimination.

BDNYC said...

Bicyclists have no business being on the streets of NYC. They're create new unpredictability and hazards for themselves, vehicles and pedestrians. That is all.

knk6146 said...

"Bicyclists have no business being on the streets of NYC. They're create new unpredictability and hazards for themselves, vehicles and pedestrians. That is all."

I biked to work in NYC today. I did it because I enjoy doing it. I'm going to enjoy the ride home just a little bit more because I now know it pisses you off. I stop and red lights and obey all traffic laws. My movements in traffic are legal and predictable. I am no more responsible for other cyclists than you are for other people who spew their opinions about what other people have no business doing.

Caligula said...

"Take a shower, asshole, and do your job.

Or find another one.

Or really go write something worthwhile and leave the rest of us alone."


At most businesses, obnoxious people are tolerated to the extent that they contribute to the business: top performers can get away with plenty that would not be tolerated from others.

But this is the New York Times, and who (other than a Sulzberger) is qualified to say what constitutes "contribution" at such a place? "The Times,” Arthur Hays Sulzberger said in 1963 when he named his son publisher, “is a family enterprise.”

mockturtle said...

"I'm on a bike!" (Never gets old.)

Reminds me of the kamikaze cyclists at UW [WA]. We pedestrians literally feared for our lives.

Robert Cook said...

EXPAT(is) said:

"PS - I switched to the Alfine internal hub system with a Gates carbon drive belt."

I have a Shimano internal hub on my bike, (a TERN folding bike). I wish I had a Gates carbon drive. TERN makes a bike that is a beefed up version of the model I have that uses the Gates drive, but it's more pricey than I want to pay.

Yancey Ward said...

"Sweat doesn't automatically smell. We'd all be in trouble if it did because sweat is how we regulate temperature."

Sweat doesn't immediately smell, but does soon after drying. I strongly suspect you are nose-blind to your sweat and its residual oils.

Robert Cook said...

"Bicyclists have no business being on the streets of NYC. They're create new unpredictability and hazards for themselves, vehicles and pedestrians. That is all."

I would say private automobiles have no place on the streets of New York. They create unpredictability and hazards for themselves, bicyclists, and pedestrians. They can always use the subways.

MadisonMan said...

I don't bike to work. I walk. It's less impactful on the environment, so I am, by definition, more virtuous than everybody else in this thread.

Thank you.

MadisonMan said...

Robert Cook, how can Private Automobiles use the Subway? Your post at 12:35 has me wondering!

Gabriel said...

@MadisonMan:I am, by definition, more virtuous than everybody else in this thread.


For you, sir.

Robert Cook said...

"Robert Cook, how can Private Automobiles use the Subway? Your post at 12:35 has me wondering!"

Do I really need to answer this?

TestTube said...

I don't even walk to work. I work in my bed, taking care to minimize any physical exertions and breath as shallowly as possible.

While Meade is spewing his carbon-laden, global-warming-enabling, planet-killing exhalations into the atmosphere, I -- and I alone -- am existing with a minimum of impact on Mother Gaia.

exiledonmainstreet said...

The worst was being required to wear pantyhose with skirts in DC offices in the 1980's. I couldn't bear to wear hose in the DC heat and humidity so I'd put my pantyhose in my purse and put it on in the ladies' room at work. Putting hose on over sweaty legs - yuck!

Women who wore longer skirts would wear knee highs, but it could be embarrassing for them if the elastic band gave out while they were walking down the street.

That's when you saw an army of women walking down K Street wearing power suits and hose and tennis shoes and carrying their heels in a plastic Safeway bag. Pretty tacky, now that I think of it.

JaimeRoberto said...

I ride to work, but in the Bay Area mornings are cool enough that I don't really work up a sweat, and my ride is broken up into two short segments sandwiched around a train ride. In the afternoon I don't really care if I get too sweaty. Besides, my sweat smells like roses in the springtime and unicorns.

Yancey Ward said...

I killed myself while sealed in an airtight container at the moment of my birth. I am the best friend of Gaia!!

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...
Employers should be required to have a shower available to employees.


Should be required, huh? Required by whom? Who's gonna pay for that, Aaaaaaan?

Maybe it works for male employees to stand in front of the air conditioner to dry off or to use baby wipes as someone upthread wrote, but it's not adequate for women. In the interest of substantive equality, shower rooms must be provided for women. I'm playing the woman card and calling sex discrimination.

What the fuck? Are you not kidding here?
Tell you what: you play the woman card and the rest of us will play the "understand what it takes to make payroll/employ others/make a living in the private sector" card, how about that?

It's not adequate for women why, again? Because women have different standards of hygiene than men do? Women sweat more, or mind sweat more (on themselves or on others)? But wait! That'd be a sex difference, Ann, and we aren't allowed to believe any of those exist. Men & women are exactly the same, remember?
Or are we back to "men & women are exactly the same except when agreeing they're not somehow benefits women"?
Men & women must be paid the same but because of women's delicate sensibilities employers must be required to provide additional benefits for women. Oh they'll be unisex of course, but since NOT including them would be sex discrimination against women the benefit must be for women.

Lyle said...

I agree with Ann on the showers. There should be showers. Showers will have the same problems as bathrooms though... who goes where?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Portlandia - Women & Women First Air Conditioning

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Lyle said...I agree with Ann on the showers. There should be showers.

I agree too--other people should be forced to pay for and provide things I want, too. Also I'm a strong independent woman who don't need no man. Also if the government doesn't use their big phallus-guns to force others to pay for the things I want then I'll just scream and stomp my dainty little feet.
Like a fish needs a bicycle, yeah.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Robert Cook said...
"Robert Cook, how can Private Automobiles use the Subway? Your post at 12:35 has me wondering!"

Do I really need to answer this?

10/3/17, 1:36 PM


You could just admit, and/or find and fix in your post, the poor grammar for which you are being lightly twitted.

Bad Lieutenant said...

HoodlumDoodlum said...
Lyle said...I agree with Ann on the showers. There should be showers.

I agree too--other people should be forced to pay for and provide things I want, too.


Something mumble blowjobs mumble.

Matthew Sablan said...

"Showers will have the same problems as bathrooms though... who goes where?"

-- I think you're using showers wrong.

rhhardin said...

I get a flat about once a year. You learn how to ride where you won't pick up little shards of metal.

Traffic cleans the road. Ride just traffic-side of where traffic never goes.

Traffic cleans the road by throwing debris randomly around until it lands where traffic doesn't go, and the debris stays there. Don't bike there, but don't bike in traffic either. There's a fine line.

Bill R said...

Pal, listen to me. I'm a friend. You are doing your career serious harm. If it's worth it to you then OK. But trust me, there are serious trade offs here.

Freeman Hunt said...

The virtuous man sits quietly in the dark, telecommuting over his solar-powered computer.