You know, I’ve been keeping a little diary of this road trip from South Georgia to South Dakota and trying to share a little bit of the journey and, with the exception of the heat and the traffic in Atlanta, Georgia and a suicidal bluejay in Missouri, it’s been a fun ride. Sure, I’m a little tired of the drive, but I’ve seen some beautiful country and the bike has run amazingly well and gotten great mileage as I’ve climbed in elevation – remember, I live near sea level and South Dakota is like, 3,000 feet higher than that.
It’s been an awesome ride.
But this morning there had to be that one jackass.
I’m not going to say where I was, because too many times, we have a tendency to judge based on location rather than the individual, which is ironic, considering how this fool talked to me.
I was drinking coffee outside a little gas station, minding my business and listening to a voicemail from, of all things, my Mother, and this kid (alright, twenty-something), starts riling on me about how I am part of the problem. I’m a rich white guy who is burning valuable fossil fuels to go to a bike rally and act 20 again and how many thousands of dollars have I wasted on my bike when nobody else can ride with me and … yada yada yada…
I really wanted to throat-punch this guy, but somewhere in my mind, the voice of my old NCO, Sgt. Kirby came out and said, “talk, don’t beat”…
So I talked.
I told the kid that I’ve owned this bike for nearly two decades, rebuilt it with my own hands three times, and that since it left Milwaukee in 1994, it was feeding American families. It helped pay the bills of the men who built it, it helped pay the bills of the men who delivered it and sold it, it has helped pay the bills of the dozens of experts who built the speed parts on it over the years.
Ironically, it keeps my bills down because I don’t have to drive a less fuel efficient vehicle to run around town and grab a gallon of milk or a carton of smokes.
Then I turned to him and his little hybrid bubble of a car and asked him – “How much did it cost to have that car shipped over here from Japan? How fuel efficient was the diesel engine in the ship? Those batteries that occasionally run your car – how long will they last and then, how will you recycle that material into a viable consumer product? At some point, in just a few years, the technology that runs your vehicle will be obsolete and you’ll either have to try to pawn that car off on someone dumber than you or take a huge financial loss – and yet this bike, that is probably older than you, will still have every part needed to service it available on the market.“
“But more importantly, kid, know that when I was your age, I wasn’t out bitching about the system or consumer goods, I stood up and defended this country in little crummy places like Panama and Columbia and Kuwait before you were a spark in your Daddy’s eye. And when I was done with that, I came back to fight on the homefront – trying to make the streets in America safe against the drug dealers and the gangsters in crappy neighborhoods all over the South. I did all that so that you can run your mouth and hide under the freedom of the very flag that protects you and keeps me from skull dragging you through this parking lot. So while I am white and I am rich, that has nothing to do with you or my bike. Now either leave me alone or come and do something about the consumer excess that you seem so worried about.”
He threw out a few select phrases that I couldn’t quite make out and then retreated to his little Toyota and sped off.
Me? I finished drinking my coffee and smoking my breakfast and got on the road for the last push to Sturgis. Ironically, the little punk was pulled over by the local cops on the side of the road…