Get Wiser With Stories From The Road

Several years ago, I was working as a Medical Assistant for a Cardiologist and I had just received an exciting promotion into an administrative-type position. I took a 10-day vacation in the transition time, and neglected to plan a single thing to do in those 10 days. I woke up early on my first day of vacation (my body forgot we didn’t have to go to work) and instead of rolling over and going back to sleep, I did what any good biker would do! I rode out to Salt Lake to wish my sister a happy birthday! 

On the first day of my trip I saw a sign for Hershey Pennsylvania and thought, “what the heck?!” I scoped it out briefly on the bike, and stopped to check out a few vendors. Before hitting the road again I saw a vendor selling bricks of chocolate. WHO DOESN’T NEED A BRICK OF CHOCOLATE?! Answer: anyone riding a motorcycle in August and only has a saddlebag to put that chocolate into.

Yep. I bought a brick of chocolate.

(No, now that you’ve lost all faith in my intelligence I am not going to reveal which cardiologist hired me.)

As soon as I was getting on the highway I was already regretting my decision. I’m not even that big of a chocolate guy. And now the chocolate was going to melt all over my stuff in my saddlebag!I rode on for a couple hours, and then got caught in a horrendous downpour. I saw the storm clouds on the horizon, and watched them roll in. I kept putting off getting suited up in my rain gear, I think because I thought the rain gear would look dumb.

The rain hit fast and hard, and I got drenched. When I pulled under a bridge and parked far off the side of the road I found myself in the company of a young family with three kids between 4 and 10 years old. Their car had two back windows that wouldn’t roll up, so they sought shelter from the rain. The family was clearly not well to do (in fact, I wondered if their car doubled as their residence.) We made small talk for a few minutes, and then one of the kids complained of being hungry. They didn’t have anything to eat with them, but I did.

I took out that brick of chocolate and one of my knives. With my knife I carefully shaved off ribbons of chocolate onto the plastic wrapper. I think I caught the mom with tears welling up in her eyes as we shared my brick of chocolate under that bridge.

The chocolate cost less than 10 bucks, but the young family savored each sliver as if the slivers themselves cost 10 bucks.

It was a great feeling!

Five hours later I was numb from riding wet, so I pulled off in Columbus Ohio to warm up and grab something to eat at a Wendy’s. Outside their door an older man sat on the ground in the only set of clothes he owns (I’m sure of it) with his trusty mangy mutt at his side.

Still riding my ‘good deed’ high, I decided I was going to extend it by buying this guy a huge meal.

I ate my hot meal, then went back up to the counter and bought six cheeseburgers, two cups of chili, and an order of fries, and a drink off the dollar menu. I proudly brought the bulging bag of food out to the man who was now talking to some passersby. I heard him explaining that someone had stranded him there and he was waiting for a ride from his sister, which would be in a few weeks.

“Hey brother, would you like something to eat?” I asked, totally prepared to get warm fuzzies again.

“Nah,” the old man shook his head. “I’m good.”

My warm fuzzies fizzled. “Uh, er, um, are you sure?” I stammered.

“Oh yeah,” he said happily. “I couldn’t eat another bite!”

Another long pause while my brain tried to make sense of what looked like a forgotten and stranded man happily turning down food. “Um, well what about your dog? I have some extra burgers and-“

“No,” the man said. “He doesn’t like that stuff. Thanks though.”

“Ok,” was all I could manage. I looked to the passersby who shrugged back. I turned and carried my bulging bag of food and drink towards my bike with the walk of a kid who proudly presented a birthday gift to their friend only to be told that their friend’s birthday isn’t for another five months.

My bike had no room for this stuff, but I jammed what I could into the saddlebags anyway, got back on my bike, and got back on the highway, still chilled to the bone.

There are two morals to this story:

1) When an opportunity comes up to help someone, take it. But don’t try to force an opportunity. You’ll just end up chugging a small coke and gulping chili before riding a long way and then eating 6 cold cheeseburgers.

And 2) As soon as you think it might possibly rain, DON’T BE AN IDIOT! Pull over and put your rain gear on. It doesn’t look nearly as dumb as you think it does. And not even half as dumb as a wet and shivering biker. Once you’re wet, it’s too late. You’re wet. And wet turns into cold. And cold turns into numb. And numb sucks. (If you don’t have rain gear, talk to us, we’ll point you in the right direction.)

Now you’re a little wiser. You’re welcome.