Is that a motorcycle jacket with my name on it? Well….about 13 years ago, when I worked for a community college and got a discount on courses, I decided to do something outside of my comfort zone. I thought it would be a fun experience to sign up for a motorcycle class with my son, Michael. Michael was about 19 at the time, and he happily agreed.
The course was over a weekend, on a Saturday and Sunday. We began early Saturday morning with some classroom instruction. There were about a dozen students in our class, and coincidentally, there were two other mother/son pairs. Once the classroom instruction was over, our group left the building and headed out to a row of motorcycles lined up on the street. I had borrowed a helmet and some hefty shoes from one of our Scrabble friends, so I was ready to go.
Our first task was to get on the motorcycle and kind of “walk/ride” it over to a large parking lot where we would be working on skills. We would be working through a set of skills, each one building on the previous one. In front of us, lay the road, a small island with a couple of trees on it and in the distance, our hands-on learning classroom, the parking lot.
As we sat on the bikes, in the middle of listening to the final words of instruction, one of the motorcycles suddenly, kind of like a jack rabbit, leapt forward and headed straight for the island. And not two seconds later, a second bike also leapt forward, this time hitting one of the trees. Michael looked over at me with eyes wide and said, “What is happening?”
Fortunately, neither one was hurt, and I successfully “walk/rode” my bike over to the parking lot. Of all the skills we were to learn that day, this was the one I truly excelled at. What I mean to say is, I actually could do it.
As the day went on, each skill got harder. At one point, as we were riding in a figure eight, the instructor was running right along side me and yelling, “Go Faster! Faster! Faster!” I couldn’t shake the guy.
At another point, he told me he could see me thinking and to “stop thinking and just do it.” I can’t really remember all the details, but you had to do one thing with one hand, something else with one of your feet, and something else with the other foot. And each thing to do was different! When I replied, “How can I do it if I don’t think about it?” He then replied that women think too much. Huh?
At another point, when practicing a skill, I looked at my hands. The veins on my hands seemed to be sticking out about 1/2 inch. I’d never seen that phenomenon before nor since. I wonder what my blood pressure was. Michael, of course, was doing just fine.
About 3/4 through the day, I took off my helmet and told the instructor I was done. I was going to sit out the rest of the day and wouldn’t be returning tomorrow. I thought he would try to talk me into sticking it out, but instead, he looked at me and said, “Okay.”
As I sat on the sidelines, one of the other mothers from one of the other mother/son pairs came up to me. She said, “Betty, don’t quit. You can do this.” I said, “No, I’m gonna quit.” Now, normally, as Dan will bemoan to you, I mean, as Dan will tell you, I don’t quit. That day, I quit.
Now, at the end of the day, the instructor did walk over to me. He wanted to ask me something. He asked me if I would be selling my helmet because, if I was, he was interested in buying it. He said sometimes people sign up for the class, go out and buy the helmet, and then decide a helmet would not be needed. Of course, I wasn’t selling as I didn’t think my Scrabble friend would appreciate me selling her motorcycle helmet. But I did have to wonder, how much of a side hustle this was for the instructor? Perhaps, this was where the real money lay. Maybe the real reason he taught the class wasn’t for the hourly rate, but rather for the easy procurement of second-hand motorcycle helmet inventory. Who knew?
Since Michael did so well, he did go back the next day and complete the course. He got some kind of certificate with his name on it. Not surprisingly, nobody sent me a certificate. However, when Michael got home, he had some news. You know the woman, who had so kindly encouraged me? Unfortunately, she ended the class with two broken legs! Somehow she started to fall off the bike and ended up having the bike fall on both of her legs. I’m thinking she didn’t get the certificate either.
In all my days, I am so glad, that on that day, I knew my limits. Was there ever a time when you knew your limits? I do believe in getting out of your comfort zone. I do believe in trying new things. I do believe in making new adventures and in making shared memories. But, in all things, I believe in safety first.
Be safe out there!