I once knew this biker named Chuck Dodson. He was a friend of mine. Always smiling. Always happy. He lived in Senioa and volunteered a lot for ABATE and rode with the Delta riders. He worked at Delta Airlines and was a dedicated employee for many years. He gave me his phone number one of the first times I met him. “If you ever need anything, give me a shout”, is what he said. People rarely say that and really mean it. I sensed right away that he meant it. I never did. I’d see him every few months at all kinds of motorcycle functions and he always gave me a genuine smile and a hearty ‘biker hug’. We drank gallons of coffee together at District meetings on Saturday mornings. He told me he was a mechanic with Delta airlines. I noticed right away that he was liked by a lot of people. Several years ago I saw him at a biker function in the old “Fat Cats” Bar in Austell, since renamed B-3. He was thinner and looked older. It was whispered to me that he was ‘sick’. I said a fruitless prayer. He died not long after our last meeting. It must be 5 or 6 years now. Cancer got him. He was gone quickly. I heard about it at another ABATE meeting. I wished I called him before he died. Just to say “hi”. Maybe to thank him for all his charitable work with the organization we both enjoyed membership in. I decided to write this after thumbing through my I-Phone numbers looking for a friend’s contact info whose last name is “Dobson”. I saw “Dodson” staring off the lit screen back at me. Chuck has been dead for several years now but his number remained in my contact list with about 6,000 other people and businesses. All these numbers and contacts migrating over the years from one I-phone to the next. All in succeeding evolutions of new phones promising faster speed and more storage and bigger screen size although each with a different charger plug! Years and years of contacts levitating to something called a ‘cloud’, storing all those I know somewhere, I know not where. Either way, contact info of biker pal after biker pal all sent to this nebulous place. Even after they pass from this life. The older I get the more frequently I see dead people’s names in my contact list. Greg Estes, Uncle Jeff, Dodson, Big Jim, all deceased, but remaining in my cell phone contacts. Occasionally, I will call the number with perhaps some oddly placed subconscious hope my departed friend will answer. Of course they never do. Initially, the number rings and I at first hear their voice inviting me to leave a message to no one. Then, after some months the line rings and no one and no recording answers. Eventually, the line disconnects. After enough time, the number is reassigned and then someone else, a stranger, will pick up the phone. “Sorry, wrong number”, click. So, as is the way of the world, I called Chuck’s number last week, years after his death kind of as a fluke. Surprisingly, a woman answered the phone. I listen intently after introducing myself but at a loss to explain why I had called: “Sorry, I just got this phone and don’t know anyone by that name”. She seemed pleasant enough. “Sorry ma’am, I don’t mean to waste your time”, was my initial reply. There was that pregnant pause in the line that signaled to me she was at least not going to hang up on me. So I took a small chance. I told her that the number was that of an old friend and that he was deceased. I didn’t want to waste her time but she was seemingly intrigued by my call. For whatever reason, she was not creeped out by what I told her although I admit it was a bit odd. In retrospect, calling him a ‘biker’ friend made all the difference. She asked how he died and when. When I explained that he was a ‘biker’ friend she told me her and her husband had just purchased a new Harley. Their 1st one! The conversation turned and lightened. She seemed friendly and anxious to tell me about their newfound hobby. She knew about ABATE and what it was but she and her husband were not yet members. She explained that their kids had grown up and moved away and they bought the bike for some weekend fun. I had an ABATE newsletter on my desk and I thumbed through it and advised her which district her hometown was in and where the meetings were held. Before I knew it we were on the phone for 20 minutes. I told her I was ABATE’s lawyer and that I was speaking at her district’s monthly meeting in March on the 2nd Amendment and how it relates to bikers. She advised that her and her husband were avid sport shooters and she asked a lot of questions about ABATE and the meetings. I directed her to the ABATE web site and she thought she would get her husband to come to the next meeting in their district and perhaps become members. I apologized for taking so much of her time and she thanked me for the information. I wonder if I will meet her and her husband at an ABATE meeting? Kind of like I met Chuck 15 years ago. I ponder what I’ll say if they do show up. Perhaps: “Hi, nice to meet you, if you ever need anything give me a call”. Adding new biker friends to your contacts in the cloud can never be a bad thing. Those bikers that pass in and out of your life and give you their cell numbers are numerous. Those that tell you to call them if you need something are few. Those that mean it are fewer still. Take a look in your contact list. We all have one now. Who as you look through would go riding with you on a sunny day? Who would come over with the correct tools to help you change a dead battery on your bike? Which ones would watch your kids in a pinch, loan you their bike, or for that matter bail you out of jail? I hope plenty. If not, get out on that bike. Stick out your hand. Smile and maybe even hug some people with that hearty biker hug. Before you know it, you’ll have loads of contacts qualifying as biker friends. The best kind.
Well, signing off for now. Remember, ride hard, ride safe, and when life lets you, ride full throttle.