Joining the Crowd

For most of my “adult life” riding either a bicycle or a motorcycle to work the instant weather permits has been a staple of my activities. “Weather permits” has meant any temperature above freezing and road conditions not including ice or snow. I don’t care about gravel in the corners. I did care, a little, about salt still remaining on the roads, but that usually just meant I washed off the bike more often than usual in the spring. It was a point of honor for me to not be among the “motorcycles are toys” crowd.

Not any more, apparently.

So far this year, I have ridden my motorcycle to school (I go twice a week.) exactly zero times. On a 55oF spring Sunday, of which we’ve had several to this point, I’ve ridden either of my motorcycles exactly once. Today, the wife needs the truck for yard work, so she’s driving me to school and I’m taking the bus back home. It’s 35oF outside this morning. With my heated Aerostich gear, that’s more than warm enough to justify riding to school. But I’m not going to.

I’m not sure what’s changed. I can’t help but suspect that my general attitude is tied to my disinterest/lethargy. “The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.” All of the smart people I know have been pretty much running on empty for the last six months. The energy has gone out of a lot of people who are usually pretty pumped up and sources of hope and good will for me. I, on the other hand, have done pretty well betting on what I used to think were worst case scenarios—professionally and financially—and assuming the worst has always been more fallback position. You don’t become a test engineer or a reliability assurance engineer and do well at it assuming every design was divinely inspired. You assume everything has fatal flaws and begin your day looking to find that flaw before the damn thing becomes a product and when it fails it’s your fault.

My usual distrust of my fellow American’s competence has fallen to an all time low. We are living in the early (and last) years of The Marching Morons society and it’s just going to get worse and maybe never better. When I’m in a 4,000 pound pickup, that translates into assuming no one is stopping for stop signs or lights, idiots will occasionally drift into my lane from any possible direction, every fuckin’ idiot is packing a weapon, and expecting a couple of key or coin scratches on my truck anytime I leave it in a public place. On a motorcycle that translates into full-time terror. A ride into the country is a fine riding exercise, a fair amount of fun, and the best way to explore my surroundings, but it’s not utilitarian. In fact, I am now a motorcycle-toy owner, since I’m not using my motorcycle for transportation.

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