As anyone whose job involves direct contact with the general public can tell you, the experience can often be a trying one.
Michael Klett knows that.
Renting and fixing bicycles for tourists and locals along San Francisco's Embarcadero has been Michael's full-time job for the past six years.
After a career in IT spanning more than 20 years, Michael enjoys the change of pace meeting and dealing with people from around the world and around his city.
Usually he does.
"I do get frustrated sometimes, but people are surprised how calm I remain most of the time," Michael says.
Michael's low-key personality, it turns out, is a great match for his workplace: The Bike Hut. Located at Pier 40, just north of AT&T Park, the Bike Hut is one, very low-key non profit in one, very high-profile spot.
It's a good bet, in fact, that of the thousands of people who rent from the Bike Hut each year, precious few are aware it's a business with a mission beyond the bottom line.
"We try to provide a service that is, one level, indistinguishable from a regular bike place," Michael says.
That is because The Bike Hut is, at it's heart, a job training spot.
Over the years, 100 young people learned how to fix bikes, and deal with customers, while working at the Bike Hut.
"The part I have enjoyed the most," Michael says,"is working with the youth."
He says many of the young people come to him with no little or no work experience, but with a big chip on their shoulder. Michael enjoys watching the tough-guy exterior fall, and confidence rise.
"Each one is different," Michael says, "but it's nice to see quite often that they will have a natural talent for mechanical work and problem solving, but they don't get real world opportunities to do that."
Michael took over as Executive Director of the Bike Hut in 2008. It has been a good fit for both of them.
Michael says the Bike Hut's revenues have tripled since he took over (he says last year's America's Cup was a boon to the business).
Michael also reports that the Bike Hut is able to sustain itself financially without outside grants. Not having to dedicate a chunk of his job to fund-raising, frees Michael up to spend more time with his young charges.