Friday, November 16, 2012


We were riding in my van down Lake Shore Drive late on a summer night—Sullivan in the passenger seat, me in back and I forget who was driving. We hear this buzz, growing louder. A buzz like a swarm of mad hornets. Suddenly, we’re surrounded by motorcycles—engulfed in a wave of Harleys. There must have been 100 bikers. And they looked like they meant business. Badass Hell’s Angels types.

We were worried. Were they headed for a rumble? Would a rival gang approach from the south and then we would find ourselves trapped in the middle of a bloodbath? This was a dangerous situation

Everybody stopped for a red light. Sullivan couldn’t help himself. He rolled down the window and said to the biker next to us, “Hey! What’re you guys doing?”

And the badass biker replied, “We’re raising money for Jerry’s Kids!”

The light changed and they all sped off.

 I see now that this brief moment in time was a golden networking opportunity that I will never get again. I blew it. I should have had Sullivan get that biker’s business card. Because if they’re all so disposed to helping cripples, I sure as hell can keep them busy.

Hell, I could wear their altruism down to a frazzle in Washington alone. There’s not a session of Congress that goes by without somebody trying to fuck with the cripples. I think the bikers would be excellent lobbyists for us. Picture some cocky little weasel like Paul Ryan sitting at his desk and all of a sudden in walk a hundred bikers. They wouldn’t have to do anything overtly intimidating. Just sit down like every other citizen and have a cordial policy discussion with a legislator: “We want to talk to you about your plan to convert Medicaid into block grants," says the leader of the pack.  "That makes the cripples unhappy. And when the cripples are unhappy, we’re unhappy.” 

That ought to do the trick. And we could also use their help with the Supreme Court because they always seem to have a case on the docket where the cripples are in the cross hairs. The bikers would just have to sit quietly in the gallery during arguments and at some point hold up a sign that says DON’T FUCK WITH THE CRIPPLES. As plan B, in case their sign is confiscated by security, they each paint a letter on their chest, lineup in order, remove their shirts in unison like morons at a football game and spell out the same message: D-O-N-. They can skip the apostrophe.

It might be harder for the leader of the motorcycle pack to mobilize the underlings. It will take a lot more explaining:

LEADER: All right listen up. The Supreme Court has granted cert in the case of Maxwell v. Weisenheimer, in which the state of North Dakota contends that the integration mandate of the Americans With Disabilities Act doesn’t apply to individuals being served under the 1619(b) waiver. And that’s bullshit! So we gotta get out there!

UNDERLING: Can’t we just do Jerry’s Kids again?

But wouldn’t that be a beautiful world? Someone rolls down the window at a red light and asks a biker what’s going on and he says, “We’re going to the state capitol to tell the Attorney General to sign on to a fucking amicus brief! Because the Supreme Court has granted cert in the case of Maxwell v.Weisenheimer, in which the state of North Dakota contends that…”

But that will never happen. First off, in order to be effective these days, your message has to be succinct. Our attention spans are as short as our red lights. And second off, I never got that biker’s business card so I blew it.


  1. Holy leather and beards, I blew it too! This happened to me as well...sorta. Firstly, I can attest that you offer a perfect metaphor... it is like a swarm of hornets. I know this because I have been found myself in the middle of both; the hornets when I was 9 years old, and the swarm of bikers many years ago when I was a fortyish, lean and mean, tech marketing guy with an attitude. On that occasion I was on hwy 101 (Ventura freeway) heading into Santa Barbara. I was coming from a less-than-happy meeting. I was pissed off. I was ready to declare everyone and everything anywhere near me as null and void. You don't actually hear the hornets at first. You feel them, somewhere down in the nether regions of your scrotum. In those days you could not pass through S. Barbara without ecountering a street light. Of course it was red, and as I sat there, after uncharactertistically stopping on a yellow light, the swarm became audible and grew louder. Like you I found myself in a sea of hogs, motors revving impatiently, and catching the odd glance of a bearded and jacketed soldier. Unlike you, I didn't ask "what are you doing?" Blame it on my mood, and perhaps some hypothalmic fart that quashed the flight-or-fight response. For whatever reason I rolled down the window, and shouted "hey! where are you guys going?". The burly biker I generally aimed this shout at, turned and shouted back, "heading to no where" with only a slight edge of sarcasm in his voice. Without thinking I shouted back "can I go with you? You can have my car, my wallet, and my wife...the first two come with instant, free delivery". Grinning now, the bearded biker shouted back, "best offer today but can't do it". The light changed and they were off, this tribe of what my mind thought must be angst driven men on hot wheels, leaving me to my straight life, which is not neccessarily always the good life. Like you, I had missed my chance. I never took a "no" so easily in my life. I could have pressed. I could have upped the ante. "But it is my life" I thought, as I cheerily gave the finger to my rearview mirror, and by the physical laws of optics, the guy behind me, who by now was laying into his horn with a vengeance.
    I loved your post. In fact, I have loved them all. Still, I've never been stimulated to write a reply. Maybe it is because of the similarity of experiences this time. However, I think I was more inspired by remembering Rush Limbaugh's evisceration of Sandra Fluke and how perfect the scene in my imagination would be for 50 or so guys flying their colors showing up in Limbaugh's studio and saying "hey shithead, we want you to lay off the chick". For that vision I am immensely grateful.

  2. For some reason I read the first sentence of this post as a country song. It worked surprisingly well.