People often ask me why so much stuff happens to me on my trips. Heck, I don't know. It happens to me all the time, not just on my trips. I thought it happened to everybody.
I do have a theory though. See, stuff is happening…constantly…all around us…all the time. What and how we choose to perceive our surroundings is the major influence in determining our experiences.
In short, we often find what we are looking for. Our perception can determine our experience.
Here is an example:
I was burning up the interstate…northbound through Wyoming when the message hit. Essentially my stomach said something to the effect of, "Chicken…das good" about the time that I passed a fried chicken place beside the road. Personally I think my eyes were in on the deal too. I belatedly realized I had not eaten today.
I scattered gravel barely making the exit ramp. I had to work, finessing the brakes and downshifting rapidly to slow the big bike from the 90+mph I was doing before I ran off the ramp's corner.
I parked the bike, tromped into the store, and ordered two breasts and a drink. Yeah, yeah. Make all the jokes you want. I admit it, I am a breast man…well…and a thigh man…well…a leg man too…and ohhhh...those bu...oh never mind.
I had finished my chicken (yum) and had visited the rest room. On the way out I donned my gloves and gauntlet…it had been too hot for the jacket for quite some time. Just before I stepped out the door, something went "ping" in my brain and I stopped and stared. Something was…off…in the store. Just not quite right.
A very small older lady had been eating when I had come in. This was a bit odd anyway…little old ladies are not the normal clientele at a fried chicken place. What struck me was that she was done with her meal, and just sitting in her chair. She had arranged the plate and trash on the tray very carefully, and was just sitting.
She had her purse in her lap and was clutching it gently with both hands. She looked straight ahead.
Something was up. I thought maybe she was scared of me…big, sweaty, leather-clad biker-dude, but somehow knew that was not it.
I approached. "Excuse me, are you all right?"
She looked up and smiled nervously. "Oh yes, I'm fine."
"You don't look fine. What's up? Can I help?"
She motioned out the window. There were several kids hanging around a light-pole in the parking lot. "I think they followed me from the K-mart parking lot. They are by my car. I'm just waiting for them to leave."
I had noticed the boys when I rode in, and dismissed them as no threat to me. "To me" were key words.
I eyed them again with this new criterion. Yes. They were waiting for her. They were a threat.
The Texan in me was crystal clear and adamant. I was instantly coldly angry.
This shall NOT stand.
I spoke to her gently, "Have you called the police? I'm sure the manager here would help."
"Oh no…I don't want to cause any fuss."
Heh heh…I had a grandmother like this. I laughed out loud and said, "Well allow me to make a fuss for you!" I started for the counter.
She put a hand on my arm. "Please don't call the police. You see…well…they might think I can't take care of myself…" The voice wavered but there were no tears…the mark of a woman that has seen too much already.
I understood her concern. I have seen this before. Often perceived problems warrant a good-natured call to social services. This can rapidly result in the loss of freedom for a lonely older person…especially if he/she does not have the support of family…or worse…overtly hostile family. There are worse things than death.
Once again, the Texan in me was clear.
Kick some ass!
I could take care of this. Hopefully without violence or the police.
I held out my hand. "I can take care of this. Trust me. Walk with me."
I walked her out to her car and put my arm around her shoulders. You have to picture this…six-foot, three-hundred-pound, leather clad, hot, sweaty, sun-tanned, biker-looking dude, all strung out from the road and with his arm around the shoulders of a bent, 90-pound, primly dressed old woman. She even had a flower in her hat.
They watched us approach, but did not move away from the car. I have to admit it. I played the "biker" card. You know…that stereotype that is applied to all bikers? Mean, gang associated, crime-committing heathens? That one…I hate it…but I played it.
"Boys! Mom here says you are giving her some trouble. Is that right?" At this, they all straightened up. One said, "No sir!"
Heh heh…got 'em. Trying to be bad-asses. Bloody amateurs.
"Well, here's the deal. Mom here is the chapter treasurer for the entire mid-west. If something were to happen to her, me and about 20,000 of her boys would be out for blood."
I eyed each of the boys, and looked carefully at the hot-rod Honda that was obviously theirs. It had custom license plates. "I expect we'd be looking for you." I spit on the ground, hoping I was not over-playing and glanced back at the car, "Nice plates…" I watched them for a moment and then grinned and said, "Bye."
They took the hint.
After they were gone I watched the old lady leave…then went back into the store and made a somewhat anonymous call to the local police. I figured they would want to know about a group of kids that apparently were stalking old ladies. I even had a license plate for them…
All because…something…was just out of place.
Would you have noticed?
Would you have asked?
Would you have acted?
It's all out there. It's happening. Perception is the key.
I'll see you on the road.