Have you ever wondered why it is that certain groups flock together? My grandparents came from County Donegal, Ireland and moved into an Irish neighborhood in New York City, to find a better life. They didn’t move to an Italian neighborhood or a Polish one or a Chinese one. They moved to an Irish one, where sights and smells and sounds would be familiar. We like to be with ‘our own.’ It stands to reason that for the most part, Asian people marry Asian people, senior citizens congregate at the senior citizens center, and when Muslims enjoy tea after a daily prayer, it’s probably with other Muslims. As a species, I suppose we are comfortable with that which we are familiar. Many stark exceptions exist to my broad social brush, but familiar is comfortable. Cops drink in cop bars, people with tattoos attend ‘tattoo’ conventions and if you are really, really smart, then there is a MENSA get together somewhere out there for you! I do not know where.
I sense this gravitation toward those like us applies to me in many ways. I have a lot in common with people like me. Irish Americans, lawyers, gear heads, travel writers, little league coaches, muscle car buffs, but mostly – bikers. We have ‘commonality’ of existence. I could be traveling anywhere on the planet and have absolutely nothing in common with those around me: not language, not culture, not fashion, not religion. However, if a biker were to park next to me at a foreign coffee shop, I could not help but attempt a conversation, starting with: “Hey, cool bike….” A bike is a common tie that binds, regardless of its make or year or the language of its rider. No element could impede a biker’s fraternal kinship to another biker, however subconscious. Bikers are simply woven of some of the same fabric. That which allows a person to ride astride their transportation instead of in it, signals to all who would likewise do so, that we are similar, that we understand why, that we get it, regardless of what language we use to say it.
It is for this reason that many of the day to day decisions we as bikers make, are driven by that same left side brain analysis that compels us to ride a motorcycle. I do not purport that all bikers coexist peacefully all the time. If that were the case, they would be nary an argument at bike week (not the case) nor a fistfight in any biker bar (not the case) nor would the show Gangland profit on the animosity some bike clubs have for other biker clubs (again, not the case). But, as a general rule, we bikers like each other.
This brings me around to my idea de jure. I’m right in the middle of a deck project on the back of the house. A little bigger, a little safer, a little less squeaky!
Needless to say, my biker pal, Steve Heffernan, is my contractor. He came over last week on his Ultra to talk about it and map out a blue print. Plan in place, he rumbled down the driveway towards his home. I wanted metal railings and rode my Road Glide over to my biker pal Allen Glickson’s house, as he has nice metal railings around the deck off his garage, a garage that houses his many nice bikes. I did like his railings. He said ‘yea, my friend John Paul, a metal fabricator and custom welder did them, he’s a biker too.’ John Paul arrived at my house the next day on an 85,000 mile Electra-Glide, to drop a tape and talk about balusters and hand rails. Graying beard, long pony tail, hands like baseball mitts. It was almost a cliché. We shook on it and off he chugged. Yvonne and I thought some new electrical outlets and light fixtures around the deck would be nice. So we called our biker pal, Phil, our electrician. Phil is due here in the morning to re route some wiring around the half built deck, and I’m not sure if he’ll be here in his pickup or on his Harley. With a little outdoor kitchenette in the works on the new deck a biker plumber may be in order. It’s a good thing my Dad taught me that much (plumbing) or I’d have nothing to contribute!!
None of this ‘commonality’ even occurred to me until my neighbor Doc O’Donnell caught me at the mailbox this morning. “Had some buddies over this week?” he asked. It was then I realized that each and every person contributing to the project was a biker. Not by design, but based on each person’s trust, loyalty or friendship with another biker. The population of bikers is a diverse and eclectic collection of men and women. My Father liked hiring Military Veterans in his plumbing business. He was a proud Marine Veteran. They all seemed to understand each other well. I totally “get” my ‘biker contractors’ and they, likewise, totally get me. The more I look, the more utility I see within our biker community, and the more impressed I am. I wonder if you could cruise through life using only biker people to do all you’re purchasing, service, sales, maintenance, etc… There is certainly enough social networking within the biker world to find who you need. I’m just wondering if anyone could let me know where I could find good ‘biker’ cleaners to starch my shirts?
Well, signing off for now. Remember, ride hard, ride safe, and when life lets you, ride full throttle.