Another summer is fast approaching; the sound of lawn mowers and the smell of new mowed grass are starting to wander through the open windows. Garage doors are opening and projects like painting and car washing are again becoming regular sights here in South Georgia. T-shirts and shorts are replacing sweat shirts and long pants. Vacations are being planned, and school children are getting that hungry look in their eyes for lazy mornings and afternoons at the public pool. As Alice Cooper stated so many years ago, “No more teachers, no more books, no more teachers dirty looks, school’s out for summer!” Our cats enjoy the coming of summer by sleeping on the cool concrete of our garage floor, or lounging under the trees and shrubbery surrounding the house. They still gather at the door every morning for breakfast, but then wander off to shady comfort. My wife is moving her jackets to the rear of her closet and bringing her lighter, summer wardrobe to the front, making it easier to pack on those Monday mornings when she’s frantically trying to make a ten o’clock flight to God knows where.
Motorcycles are becoming more and more visible every day, thundering up and down I-75 like herds of angry buffalo trying to escape a tribe of hungry hunters. Sportbikes buzz up and down the roads in town, blasting from red light to red light, leaving rubber on the pavement half the time, and sounding like deep throated angry insects as they blur past the people on the sidewalks.
I guess summer isn’t coming. It’s already here.
The other day I rode from our home in South Georgia, up to Charlotte, North Carolina. I stayed off the interstates, enjoyed the 400-mile trip and made surprisingly good time. I rode my old Honda Shadow and if motorcycles have feelings, the Honda was celebrating the coming of summer as much as I was. The bike has 46,000 miles on the clock and it runs like the day I brought it home from the dealer. I spent the evening with my wife and decided I’d would ride another 400 miles to Ohio and see my parents and in-laws for Mother’s Day. A good excuse for a long ride, but pretty much any excuse will do. Heading North through Virginia, I took the West Virginia turnpike to make some time. I despise paying tolls, but decided that the time saved would be worth it. Traffic was light and even the semi-trucks seemed to be rolling at an even pace that Thursday morning. I pulled up to the first toll booth behind a black Honda Accord, just a regular vehicle, with two people heading north. I watched the driver hand the lady in the toll booth a bill, and she handed him back his change. I eased off the clutch and let the Shadow roll up to the toll booth, kicked it up into neutral, flipped my helmet up and took off my gloves. Before I could get my wallet out to pay the toll, the lady in the booth smiled and said “Go on.”
“The car in front of you paid your toll. Just go on.”
I put my gloves back on, flipped down the chin bar and dropped the bike back into first gear. I spotted the black Honda about a quarter of a mile in front of me, so I rolled on the throttle to catch up with them. Then I thought to myself, “now what?”
I pulled up beside the car, lifted my visor and waved with my left hand while mouthing “Thank you1” in an exaggerated manner. They both smiled, and waved energetically, and the driver nodded as I dropped back and fell in behind the car.
Why would perfect strangers do something so kind? Were they motorcyclists themselves, knowing what a hassle it is digging for your wallet while the traffic behind you is piling up? Do they have a son or daughter who rides and they were feeling some sort of kinship with a guy on two wheels? Were they on their way to the casino and figured that a good deed would not go unrewarded? Maybe though, just maybe, they were two nice people enjoying a sunny day and just felt like doing something nice. I believe that you should treat people like you want to be treated. It can be hard to do sometime, but it’s worth the effort.
At a service station two hundred miles up the road, I paid it forward. An older lady was having trouble with a gasoline pump; it was requesting her zip code, and she kept entering her PIN number. We got it corrected in a moment and she was very appreciative. I just smiled and waved, dropped my bike into gear and rode off. I hope she passes the good deed along or at least looks at motorcyclists with a kinder eye, as she travels along. As for me, I’m following Jimmy Buffetts advice: “I’m just trying’ to get by, being’ quiet and shy, in a world full of pushing’ and shove.”