winding road next 35 years

Rowena Crest, Old US-30, Oregon

Growing up the child of a lifetime Federal employee, you develop a remarkably socialist set of expectations from work. Your job will always be there. It will provide constant, incremental promotions, comprehensive benefits, and provide for a very comfortable, stable middle class existence.

My own professional history… not so much. Which is not to say that it hasn’t been enjoyable, but government contracting does not equal government job, and when it all blows up in your face (literally), the next step can be shaky. Me? I went on a ride.

Coming back from California, and somewhat burned out from the Columbia investigation, I figured I’d keep the ride vibe going and threw a resumé a motorcycle shop until I found something better. Turns out it was one of the largest, busiest BMW facilities in the US. Trial by fire with a significant pay cut, but I wound up being surprisingly good at it. I’m not a gearhead per se, nor a BMWphile, nor a salesman… but the ability to sit in one place and help people all over the world get the most out of their old German bikes was very cool, and the complete ground-up reestablishment of work ethic, basic mechanics of capitalism, and thorough understanding of process control were incredibly valuable and far more real to me than any throwaway MBA program.

Surprisingly, I’m now going into my sixth year in this industry. That’s longer than any of my notoriously long-term relationships, its half the lifespan of most dogs, its the time it takes a human to comprehend basic math. What do I have to show for it? A hell of a lot, actually.

Gratitude from some very cool people including countless packs of friends Alaska- or Baja-bound, girls stranded in Peru, a couple on their 40th anniversary riding the world together, retired guys restoring their very first bikes from when they were teenagers, the Los Angeles Port Police, Maryland, Alabama, and Washington state troopers, and countless other local jurisdictions, a race shop owner who lost everything in Katrina and was busy restoring the city’s flooded bikes the next month, a guy riding the world researching and documenting rare bear species for an upcoming feature film, the owner of Seattle’s best French bakery, or even just the guy down the street who only puts a few thousand on his bike a year in a brief escape of his own job.

Its also had some serious perks. I have a bike I thought I could never afford, fantastic gear, plenty of new friends, better on- and off-road skills… and often I have to suffer through the torture of being asked to put miles on a company bike…

The sacrifices I make (2009 BMW R1200R on US-101 on the Oregon coast)

Things are about to progress to a new stage here shortly with more responsibility, more demands, and more potential payoff, and in all honesty, I’m looking forward to it. Its not all songbirds and rainbows every day, and I doubt it will last a lifetime, but I like who I work for, I like who I work with, and I like the end results of what I do. How many people can honestly say that about their job? Especially after a 13 hour day?

Not exactly the road I set out on, but since when did that make for a fun trip?

self portrait in eastern Oregon

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