“You can’t be here…” says the pimply-faced kid disguised as a store clerk.
I was sitting cross-legged on the burning-hot concrete in one of “his” parking places, digging chunks of brown glass out of the tires on my machine with a pocket-knife…and wasn’t in the mood for any crap.
I looked up and wiped the sweat out of my eyes, “Yet, here I am…”
“We don’t allow loitering. See! There’s even a sign!” his voice jumped up a couple octaves on that last bit…
I ignored him a moment and grimaced as I popped another large piece of beer bottle out of my front tire. I breathed a sigh of relief when I didn’t hear a telltale ‘hiss’ of a leak. Just to be sure I spit on my fingers and wiped it on the scar in the tire, looking for bubbles.
Seeing none, I turned my attention back to the kid, and fell back on my usual statement in this sort of situation, “Well, it’s a good thing I didn’t ask your permission then, ain’t it?” I tossed him a “not so friendly” grin by way of dismissal.
As he backed away he took on that tone that you might hear out of a five-year old threatening to tell on his brother, “I’m gonna get my manager.”
I continued to ignore him. I didn’t care what he did. If I was lucky I really only needed five more minutes at most.
I wasn’t in the mood for his attitude…simply because I already had one of my own…one that was thrown at me on the road…the very same one that was responsible for me plunking my fat butt on the hot concrete and digging around in my machine’s nethers with a knife.
A passing cage…in the opposite direction…had apparently felt it was appropriate to throw a half full beer bottle at me. Multi-lane surface streets, our delta was probably around 80mph, and there was traffic, and this idiot thought it would be…what? Fun? Neat? A thrill? to toss a bottle at the motorcycle rider. He was, unfortunately, deadly accurate.
Maybe he just really hates motorcycles.
I saw the flying bottle at the last second…and having no place to dodge on such short notice, I grabbed the binders hard. This helped. Instead of hitting my windshield or worse, me, the bottle impacted low on my front tire and shattered on its way under…also to be crunched even further by the back tire.
Car-dude hadn’t just thrown a bottle…he’d also thrown an attitude…one that hit me right between the eyes. My day was instantly headed down hill.
“Shit!” I was already back hard on the throttle to avoid getting flattened by the traffic behind me. Back at speed, I signaled, changed over three lanes, and pulled into the gas station to check for damage…and perhaps utter a few more choice swear words. It’s a station I frequent, a busy convenience store sort of place, so I really didn’t expect an issue.
Crushed glass isn’t particularly dangerous to tires…but crushing glass with tires can easily result in cuts and large chunks of embedded glass. The embedded glass must be removed even if it didn’t penetrate the liner as it will remain in the tread and work its way inward in short order.
So…attitude…I had PLENTY of it for the day and any more brought to the table was NOT going to be productive.
After somebody tries to kill me I’m not above folding folks in half if they overly annoy me…
I had cleared the front tire, finished a first pass on the back, and breathed a sigh of relief. No leaks. I’d lucked out.
I started a second pass on the back tire, just to be sure. The deep tread of the Darkside tire is certainly more robust, but it can also hide more debris or damage.
That’s when, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that the manager arrived on the scene. I continued my work, hoping to get out of here before things got worse.
Attitudes. They’re important. They’re also contagious, and can be destructive.
I’d had one…a good one…when I left the house this morning. “Car-dude” had destroyed it…throwing a new and intensely negative one my way. “Clerk-spud” had added to the strife…and the frown…and the “people REALLY suck” feeling boiling in the pit of my stomach.
And now manager was here. He watched me working for a moment, sized up the situation, took a couple steps closer, and threw me some attitude of his own.
“Sir, are you okay? Do you need some help?” there was no annoyance in his voice at all. It was a genuine, concerned question.
Finished with the pass, I blinked some more sweat out of my eyes, stood up, showed him the handful of glass fragments I’d recovered, and explained what I was doing.
“Man! That sucks! You need a ride somewhere? Or a wrecker? There’s a tire place just across the street too that might be able to help.”
My day was getting better.
“Thanks, I appreciate it. But I lucked out…I think. No leaks.”
“Good deal. Man, it’s hot out here. You want a fountain drink or something? On the house!”
And just like that…all the bad attitudes I’d gathered for the day were gone.
Shortly I was standing in the air-conditioning, sipping a soft drink and chatting with the manager. At one point he indicated “Clerk-spud” and said, “Don’t mind him. He’s new. We’re working on him.”
Attitudes. They’re important. They’re also contagious. They don’t have to be destructive.
It turns out…they’re also choices.
Food for thought.
I’ll see you on the road.