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.



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.


“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.

Better Outside the Bag

First stop had been to the see Karrera at the cafe.  She had pointed him to QuarterMaster Surplus where he picked up a canvas messenger bag he thought the dog would fit into.  The bag smelled a bit like the store.  Wearing it back to the motel should air it out.  As he purchased the bag his brain tried to help him understand he was doing little to find Tug’s owner and that naming the dog was ownership and if you were trying to figure out how to travel with the dog then the dog was, de facto, his.  He wanted to not want the dog.  Somewhere inside him was an angry mother telling him dogs were dirty and stupid and flea ridden and more responsibility than he could handle.  Another voice just wanted to be left alone and not invest his heart in another thing he could lose–wouldn’t it be easier to take the dog to the pound and then a nap?  However, the loudest call was to get back to the dog and put him in the bag and see if he’d go for a ride.

That would be cool.

Coolness was hard to deny.

Tug was cool and loaded into the bag easily.  It was hard for him to pop his head out to see so the man cut a “U” into the side of the bag and Tug was happy to stick his head out under from under the flap to see where things were going.

And it smelled better outside the bag.