Motorcycles, Life and FEAR of the Unknown

I was gathering some information on a safety related site about single vehicle crashes and riding away without reporting an accident and this comment was made:

“When I took a first aid class a while back, they spent a lot of time discussing the legal trouble you can get into trying to help someone. Pull someone out of a burning car and fail to handle a spinal injury properly and they end up paralyzed you can get sued even if you saved their life.”

The conversation progressed to:

“Just be careful about doing anything more than not letting someone die. If somebody is not going to die anytime soon, usually better to wait for the professional.”  

Which is actually sound advice.  I’m an “aid and comfort” sort of guy, hell, I’ll even light your smoke while we wait for assistance.  I would address the stuff the Boy Scouts taught me:  ABC  Airway, Breathing and Circulation.  To listen to some folks in the conversation you should live in constant fear of being sued, so much fear that (and this is a quote):

“When we had a boat and I took a lot of friends out, I considered getting my captains license to make sure I was doing my best to operate the boat safely. I was advised that could be a bad idea. As just some shmo with a boat I am held to a lower standard than a licensed captain, even if I am not charging anybody for the ride..”

Again, it’s probably sound legal advice and fine except the idea that you’re better off knowing less.  Are you ever really better off knowing less?  I think they call that “willful ignorance”.

Heck, by taking basic first aid this gentleman appears to have learned a “best practice” which is “lifesaving measures only”.  Don’t be resetting bones, or grabbing that fishing line and a hook out of the saddle bags and stitching things up, open heart surgery is a bad idea, as is any invasive procedure.  If someone has arterial blood spray a tourniquet may be in order.   See, every rider should have basic first aid training.  Should you have a Combat Livesaver rating?  Probably not.  True story:  was teaching a experienced course when a rider fell.  He lay there on the ground a moment so I asked the line of riders “Anyone here with advanced medical training?”  A young man said, “Yes”.  I asked “Where?”  He said “Navy”.  I said, “Come with me Corpsman.”  Worst fear was that something more that embarrassment was holding this crashed rider to the ground; I didn’t want to roll this guy over without a pro there.  Luckily our rider’s pride was the only injury.

So, what should you know and do?  Get a little training.  Go to the local Red Cross–they’ll know where you can get absolute rookie training.  What new parent doesn’t want a 16 year old baby sitter with some Red Cross certification? Maybe you and your riding buddies should get some too!  Why?  Because often at crashes riders want to immediately take off their helmets.  I’m fine with that.  But if you can’t get up?  Maybe leave it on so you don’t wrench your neck getting it off?  If your buddy asks you to “Take off my helmet, would ya?”  Maybe you’re better off saying, “We’ll let the paramedics make that decision.”  Like plenty of areas of riding knowing what you don’t know is very important.  That means taking a course which you can even do online.  Learn a little something and find out what you don’t know so you can do the right thing.

Tug

Listening to this old Thin Lizzy song and this popped into my head.

Snuggled deep in the messenger bag Tug tries to ignore the wind noise he is so used to but cannot escape.  The leather flap on the bag flutters and sucks air in from the road but outside smells are smothered by  his own from the towel he’s burrowed under and the heavy odor of leather.  The world leans and he swings away from The Man as the bag leans off the inside of the turn.  Throttle opening the bike straightens and the bag and he fall back against the man’s hip.  There is a pat on the bag and words he cannot hear but knows, “S’all good, s’all good.”

Tug waits; waits and sleeps. Sleep is easy and the slowing,  downshifting and forward rock that says, “We’re going to stop soon” will wake him when things get interesting again.  He waits for the satisfaction of getting out of the bag.  Grease and wax are on the towel and the smell offends him a little, it is his towel but the man borrows it too much.   Long and slow the roar of passing truck drowns out all sound, diesel arguing with gasoline, 2 cylinders against 6, 103 cubic inches rumbling against 900.  The harsh oily smell of diesel faintly elbows in and Tug wiggles a little deeper into the familiar towel.

“S’all good, s’all good.”  A pat and a rub on the bag.  Habit.  Communication.  Partners. Tug wags his bobbed tail.  The man doesn’t feel it but knows it happens.  Partners.

Road Song

 

Seger and the poets make romance and lyric references

to the song of the road.

 

They lie big generous loving lies.

 

The road sings a song that is hard and screams in your ears,

a banshee drumming on delicate bits and pieces inside your head.

The road whistles, howls and roars

enough to make your ears bleed like

a lover’s scratch worth the pain.

 

The song can hurt, diminish and delete.

 

The real road song echoes in your head

at night or

in the quiet places

taunting, ringing, ever present

a noisy tattoo on your senses

never gone, always singing.

 

God, what a ugly wonderful sound.

Hind Legs Dragging

“What’s your name?”  She asks, poking gently, not wanting to tip the situation over.

“Joshua.”

“Is that what you go by or is that the legal description?”  She tries to wink with her voice but doesn’t think it comes through.  It’s a soft push, wanting to say just the the right amount, coaxing the kitten from under the bed.

“My mother always said Joshua and my Pop always called me Josh.”  Releasing it’s not a real answer he adds, “Josh is best.”

Tug lays quiet, his chest and belly against the bed.  The man and the woman are talking and he likes it.  Slow, soft.  No growling. No barking.  Wiggling forward he slides off the bed like a seal, hind legs dragging.

Believers Never Really Want to Know

To act could kill the promise and the promise was sweet enough to cling to because it was alive, revived and back from a long vacation.  He coughed to see if the shadow would flee.  Her head snapped to the side to put both ears on the sound.  The dog turned his head, looked at him, and asked, what are you doing?

The man speaks.  “If you’re going to steal it then just ask for the keys, I don’t want the ignition screwed up any more that it already is.”  Dog likes hearing the man’s voice and his tail wags reflexively.  The shadow breathes a startled breath, flexing on the door.  For a pregnant minute neither moves or speaks.  It’s s a dream to both and breaking the moment could break it and wake the nightmare.  Tug growls again, clicking like a ratchet. The man squeezes him and again he stops.  Her shadow climbs the door as Karrera steps into view blue and ghostly, the grey streaks in her hair neon and glowing.

“Hello.”  Says the man.

“Hello.” Say Karrera.

Wag, wag, wag, says Tug’s tail.

“This place is too cheap for chairs?”  says Karrera.

“Too cheap for working locks too.”  he says.  “Sit anywhere.  Should be clean…ish.”  He hopes for the edge of the bed.  Putting her back against the door Karrera slides down into a squat that turns into crossed legs on the floor.

“Yoga?” he asks, “Around here?”

“Find somewhere it isn’t”, she replies.

“True.”

Still wagging his tail Tug starts to crawl on his belly to the foot of the bed.  Rubbing his belly on the blanket he lets his back legs drag behind him because it feels good.  In the reflected moonlight his black spot looks like a hole in his side.  Stretched fully out he works himself to the end of the bed and drops his head down between his paws.  “Wow,” says Karrera, “somebody’s working it hard.”

The man rises up on an elbow to look at Tug.  “He’s a smart dog.  Really smart. I don’t know how he wound up here.” But, then again neither did he.  Life was the river and he had thrown himself in to be swept along, rolled, stranded in the eddy and now at least the dog drifts along with him.  The silence is awkward and safe.  You can’t say the wrong thing is you don’t say anything and they both didn’t want to take the wrong step.  Trapped in the minefield they simply waited.  Tug’s tail slows, stops but stays pointed at the ceiling as if to say to the man, “This is an asshole.  You’re being one too.”

The air isn’t pregnant, the scene is not waiting for crescendo, the thing is there and quiet; not poised or prepared but real and neither dares to point at it for fear it will either materialize or disappear.  It is the fear of ghosts, that they might be real or they might not.  Believers never really want to know.