By Paul Berglund
I used to like seeing the scrap guys in the crappy pickups driving down my alley. I thought that might be a good job for a retired guy. Just drive around with one of your retired friends and make some money while you save the environment. I have no idea what kind of a living a scrap guy makes, but they were keeping busy and they were keeping metal out of our landfills. Then the price of steel dropped. Those scrap guys got more aggressive. It used to be homeowners could put things in the alley and scrap guys would take it away. Now things in my yard are being taken. Things of which I was very fond.
When the price of steel was high, I spent several days and several hundred dollars building a large steel rack that would slide into any full size pick up truck and hold three dirt bikes. When not in use, it would stand on it’s end and not take up much space. We used that rack many times, taking street bikes to the shop, or more often, hauling dirt bikes to the trails. I was kind of proud of that rack, but more importantly it served it’s purpose very well. It was kind of a wondrous thing. You could strap all three bikes to the rack and if you were strong enough, slide it out of one truck and into another. It was self contained and fully functional. I’m sure small children who would later go on to become engineers would have marveled at it, given the chance.
Then the price of steel dropped. Scrap guy wasn’t making his day rate off of scrap left in the alley any more. One of them saw a business opportunity in my back yard. On that fateful day a line was crossed. Sadly his decision lessened both of our lives and if he was lucky, he might have made a quick $3 off of that rack when he scrapped it. He might never think about that rack again, but I do. It put a cramp in my way of life. I can’t stack bikes in my truck bed like cord wood and what am I supposed to say to those sweet upturned faces of the next generation of engineers? Do I have to tell a bunch of nerdy kids to chain up their trikes, cause scrap man is coming for their toys?
Anger and wishing and plots of vengeance will get you nothing but a sleepless night. In the big scheme of things this was a small crime. I’m a victim, robbed of time and money nothing more. Just last week I traded my mighty Dodge wagon in on a used GMC truck. The used car manager “stole” far more money from me on that trade-in. So now I have a truck and no rack to haul bikes in. Towards whom shall I direct my anger? The guy we can all agree is a criminal, or the one who took (what I feel is) a criminal amount of profit from a legal transaction? Don’t get me started on lawyers.
Motorcycles are a great way to get that anger out. Riding can clear your head. So the sooner I get back in the garage and make a new rack, the sooner I can hit the trails. Some of my friends have had their motorcycles stolen. Thats a worse spot to be in. I still have my bike and the trails are still there. I just have to work out some logistics. I don’t want to loose my faith in motorcycles over money. We all have to drink a big glass of “that’s life” juice from time to time. It’s bitter and tastes like ass, but ultimately, how long that taste lingers is up to us. I prefer the minty fresh taste of trail riding.
For those of you who have been reading Tales From The Road for awhile, you may be asking, “Wait, what about your trailer?” I’m wondering who you people are but to answer your hypothetical question, I sold that in an attempt to simplify things. Why have a car and a trailer when one truck can do the work of both? Life can take many twists and turns and so did the path that led me to my current truck. A tree fell on my last truck and squished it. Gas was $4 a gallon, so I decided to get a car and a trailer to save some money. Five years later I’m looking at a large bill for trailer maintenance and gas is $2 a gallon. So I sold the car and the trailer and bought a truck. I try to live my life using logic and forethought. I just didn’t factor in the criminal element that prowls the alleys of our fair city.
It’s true when I parked my trailer in the alley, I had it chained to a very large tree. I used a large chain and a large lock because I didn’t want to help a good boy go bad. That was quite logical. But the rack was in my back yard and I’m not going to chain up things in my back yard. Logical as it may seam, I don’t want to live like that. I’m a motorcyclist, I value freedom. I understand that there are risks involved with living this type of life. If I give into fear and paranoia, I’ll have a key ring as big as a school janitor. Not a cool look. Plus as guys age, it becomes harder and harder to keep our pants up. I’m three pounds of keys away from “pants on the floor”. No one wants that. Least of all me.