Today I tuned up a 12-year-old Trek hybrid for a friend who'd hired me to throw some love at his bike. It mstly went fine, though The rear wheel was installed with the skewer backwards (and missing its quick-release springs) in order to accommodate a very old trailer hitch. There was really no way to accommodate the trailer hitch without compromising the position of the rear axle in the dropouts, so I made an executive decision and removed it.
The rear rack had been destroyed by twelve years of overloading. The main vertical struts were bent back on themselves and the rack leaned to one side because my friend insists on carrying all of his stuff in one very heavily overloaded pannier rather than balancing the load between two ("It's inconvenient," he told me, "and it has to be convenient or I won't ride." I used to hear stuff like this from customer all the time so I just shrugged and nodded.). I replaced the rack with a NOS stock model I'd been sitting on in the stash. The new rack, more sturdily built than what it replaced, made it even harder to put the trailer hitch back. I hoped this would be enough to dissuade him from using this hitch again.
As I worked, cleaning the drive-train, lightly sanding the brake pads and tightening the brakes up a bit, and thoroughly cleaning the bike all over, I listened to music from a Nano stashed in my workshirt pocket, with the cable running up by back to earbuds. It was actually pretty nice to work this way as long as I wasn't doing anything that requires close listening. (I turned off the music and pulled out the earbuds when it was time to true the wheels.)
The whole thing took two hours including replacing the rack, and gave me some quiet time that was not focused on my album or on Jewish work. I'm glad for the sense of balance this occasional at-home wrenching work gives me. And it's nice to be able to help my friends.
My friend picked up his bike, frowned at the news about the trainer hitch, and frowned harder when I gently told him I would not put things back the way they'd been and re-install the hitch. "It's my job as your mechanic to tell you that this is unsafe. Please find another way to carry your groceries (like, I dunno, a second pannier, maybe?)."
He shrugged noncommittally. Something in his look suggested he might take matters into his own hands when he got back home. I advised him that if he chose to undo my work I could not help responsible if anything happened. I really wanted him to be safe and find another trailer hitch. He said he'd think about it, thanked me for my help and rode home.
Thankfully, I'm not doing this for a living anymore so I don't have to document everything to within an inch of its life. But it always blows my mind when someone entrusts me to work on their bike, knows I've been doing this for a long time, and still wants me to do something less than totally safe on their bikes for the sake of convenience.
I have another repair favor scheduled for next week.