Saturday, December 12, 2015


A lot has been going on. I went out west for three weeks. With my siblings, step and half, I sorted through my dad's possessions choosing things to keep before they move to "senior housing." Then to Seattle for a week to fight a little with Mom and feel very tired. Took an overnight train from Chicago to CA. Such a great idea and not crazy expensive. Not the vacation I'd hoped for since I pretty much couldn't sleep. The motion wasn't restful. I also worked the two weeks I was visiting parents, which was a mixed bag.

All the men went away, which is more ok than I thought it would be. It's almost a relief. I had contact from someone I haven't seen for about two months, but my need to talk to him a little bit before we met killed it. Good riddance. I'm sure there will be more riduculous entglements in my future, but I can handle a lull. I have things to do. Closets to organize, junk to take to Goodwill. Bikes to ride. Friends to see. Places to visit. Books to read, movies to watch, things to knit. Companionship is nice for some of these things but I'm happy to do most of it on my own. And none of this batch of dudes was really available anyway. Anyway.

At a friend's advice, I got a copy of "What Color is Your Parachute." It's a job search guide. I have an old copy my mom gave me when I was in college or just out. I tried to read it but you have to do all these exercises and I didn't have the patience. And I found jobs. I still have a job, but I still don't like it, and management is a disaster. So...why not go through this book, take some time, do the exercises, and see if it helps me figure out if I should be doing something else? No point just finding another version of this shitty job. I'm also transferring to a different part of the firm so that will help, but I will still manage the nightmare project...sigh. Ok, so one of the exercises is to write seven (SEVEN!) stories. Well, I write, I have this blog, I decided I'd write them here. Just stop here if you're not interested. I don't know if these stories will be interesting. The point is to help figure out your skills. Ok, we know I have skills! Let's see where this goes.

Story #1: Stuck on the rod

Goal: get home from scooter rally

When I was 19, I went with a small group of guys to a scooter rally (Vespas mostly) in Victoria, BC (Canada). We towed our scooters up there because, even from Seattle, that's too much freeway riding for old scooters. Mine was a 1963 model and I'd never done anything but ride it around town. Never on the freeway because its max speed was 50mph. While on the rally, it developed several problems, the key one being that the bolts holding the fly wheel started to shear off while we traveled at high speeds. Scary and very loud! I had to ride pretty slow the rest of the time and stop periodically to tighten the two (of four) remaining bolts. I had a wrench with me and did this periodically. At slow speeds, I was fine. To get to Victoria, you take a ferry from Vancouver. The stretch of road after the ferry is where my problem developed. The rest of the time in Victoria was fine. On the way back, I start to have the same problem, and had to stop at lot. Apparently the more senior guy, Victor, in our group (4 dudes and me) had assigned one guy, Jerry, to stay behind me and stop when I stopped. I didn't like Jerry and Victor neglected to tell me their plan. Maybe they didn't want to hurt my feelings? Anyway, I pulled over to tighten the bolts. Jerry slowed down, I waved him on, and he went on. I tightened the bolts, then I straddled the scooter and pushed forward to get it off its kickstand. It wouldn't move. I couldn't figure out wht going on so I got off and turns out, my rear tire was flat. Now, over the weekend, I'd watched someone fix a flat. These were like bicycle tires and had inner tubes. I knew what I needed to do was get the tire off the wheel and patch the tube. I sat there, assuming more scooter people were behind me and someone would stop and help. After mabye 15-20 minuties, I realized my assumption was wrong. I was the last rider and no one was coming. And, obviously, they hadn't noticed I was missing. So, I sat there on the side of the road, pulled out my adjustable cresent wrench...and it was too small to fit the wheel lugs. Around then, some bicyclists rode up and they stopped to see what was wrong. One of them suggested I take the tire off and bring it to the gas station across the road. We tried my wrench--too small. He pulled one out--it was much bigger and it worked. And random bicycle dude took my wheel off for me. He then suggested we trade wrenches and even said mine was better for him anyway--more suited to bikes! They rode off.

I took the wheel and crossed the highway to the gas station. Unfortunately, the garage part was closed becuase it was CANADA DAY. What the hell? I tried to talk them into letting me into the garage to access their tools and a tire patch. They wouldn't budge. I don't think they offered to call a tow truck, though that would've been the obvious solution. I went back across the road to the scooter and sat down. I imagined a lot of things. Hitchhiking somewhere with the tire, perhaps. That my "friends" had completely forgotten me. That I had to figure out how to get home somehow. That I had my mom's credit card and if I could just get off Vancouver Island, I could find a way to get home. I had a beer with me and I drank it.

I took a look around and noticed there were some houses just off the main road. That's when I decided I would go knock on someone's door and ask to use their call a tow truck, I guess. I'm not sure I had a plan.

I went to the nearest house and knocked. I can't remember if I was carrying the wheel...that might've been a little later. A middle aged guy answered the door. He was on the phone--and he said, "I have to go. I have a lady in distress here." He invited me in and I explained what had happened. He said he coud help me and his neighbor had a motorcycle and maybe could fix the tire. I think that's when we went back to the scooter and got the wheel. I carried the wheel to the neighbor's garage. We rummaged around a bit but coudn't find the right tools to take off the tire. We went back to the house and he offered to drive me to a different garage he thought would be open.

We got in the car--which was fancy. A BMW perhaps? I held the wheel in my lap and he used his car phone (car phone--fancy!) to try and call the ferry to see if my friends were there. Maybe to try and hold the boat? We got to garage, which was open, and in less than 15 minutes, they fixed the tire (by patching the tube) and charged me $6 dollars (Canadian--even less back then). The kind stranger drove me back to the scooter and put the wheel back on for me. He then apologized a bunch for having to go and not being able to make sure I got to the ferry. During the car ride he'd told me he'd had a Vespa when he was younger. Of course he had! I was so grateful but don't think I thanked him adequately.

I rode the scooter very slowly to the ferry. I got on the ferry and finally relaxed. I bought a snack and a trashy novel and tried to distract myself. I was still trying to figure out what I would do when I got to the other side. I guess I would've called my mother and figured out how to get back to Seattle. When I was getting off the ferry, I noticed Jerry in the line to get back on the ferry. I was flooded with relief. They hadn't forgotten me! He peeled off and we sat in the waiting area for Victor and the other guys to come with the trailer.

Jerry said he was going to find me no matter what it took. I didn't have much to say to him. I found out later, riding back with Victor, about how Jerry was supposed to stick with me and make sure I didn't get left behind. When they had all boarded the ferry, someone said they saw me--my scooter was bright yellow. When they realized I wasn't on board, they tried to get off, but they weren't allowed. They were really angry at Jerry and worried about me.

What did I learn? There is always a solution to a problem. Come up with a contingency plan. Don't refuse help.

Grateful for: surviving youthful misadventures.

1 comment:

  1. Memories of pre-cell phone life. My car died on a rural highway once on Thanksgiving night and I remember climbing a barbed wire fence to get to the only building I could see with lights, a mobile home, and they were so nice and helpful.


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