Image. Everyone is concerned with what sort of image they present to the world. Businesses spend millions of dollars in advertising and marketing to build an image. Individuals “dress for success,” or maybe just the opposite, to convince others what the type of person they are. I’m guessing most people have an image in mind when they think of motorcyclists. Some probably think of the leather clad “racer boy” types that run up and down the highway on the back wheel of their sport bike, seemingly oblivious to the “rules of the road” and common sense. A few might think of old guys with teddy bears strapped to the back of their rolling light show. But I’m guessing when most people think of motorcyclists, they think “biker.” And when they think biker, they think black leather, loud pipes and rebel attitudes…or at least wanna be attitudes. Back in the 60’s, the American Motorcycle Association dubbed outlaw motorcyclists the “One Percenters.” The idea was that 99% of the motorcycling population is law-abiding. Apparently they weren’t counting traffic violations!
I’ve met some really awesome people over the years while traveling on my motorcycles. There is still a sense of comradery among motorcyclists. Just pull in a parking lot anywhere in the country and if there is another rider around, the two of you will be magnetically drawn together. While the “wave” has become less of a common occurrence, I still enjoy the feeling of tipping my finger to a fellow rider as we pass. It is like saying, “This is what makes us come alive. We share this bond.”
I remember several years ago I was riding in West Virginia and Virginia. I was traveling to Lexington for the night and had jumped on the Interstate. I pulled off at a rest area that was complete with gas, food and coffee. I parked my bike, grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down at a table. A few minutes later a tall gentleman in a leather jacket and pants walked up to me and said, “Is that your BMW outside?” I said yes, and he proceeded to introduce himself to me. He lived in Washington DC and owned, what later sounded like a very successful business. He was on the road visiting his children at college. One was in Ohio, the other West Virginia. It was a great conversation as we shared our love for riding. He told me if my wife and I ever came to DC, he would put us up and give us the tour, then handed me his business card. Who says that sort of thing to a complete stranger? As we got ready to depart, he asked my direction and then offered to hook me up with a place to stay for the night. He said he was sleeping on the floor of his son’s dorm room and I could join him if I didn’t mind not getting much sleep. And then he had a better idea…he told me he knew a woman in the town we were headed to that he believed would gladly put me up. I don’t really know exactly what he had in mind, but he told me she was single…and my age. Somehow I was smart enough to think that it probably wasn’t the best idea! I told him thanks, but no thanks, then we mounted up and went our own way.
Say what you want about “bikers,” but they are some of the most generous people you will ever meet. After all, how many people do you know that are willing to share their girlfriend with you!
Did you catch the smile on that valet’s face? That says it all.