Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A new scooter gang?

"I'm going to start a scooter gang when I graduate this class."

That's how a mop haired young man introduced himself to the class on the first night. One of the things that keeps me intrigued with teaching is that each new group of students has their own character. Some characters are more colorful than others, I find!

This young man had never ridden before. Like a lot of people these days, his goal was to use a scooter to save on transportation costs. Actually, his parents had forbidden him to have a motorcycle. Going to school and living at home, he felt bound by their rules. Not totally, it would turn out. The parents had okayed a 50cc moped. Our young man was going to get something bigger and try to secrete it from them. That was between the three of them. My job was to teach him to ride and take care of himself in the process.

I'm going to let our young man remain anonymous, although here's a picture. Yes, the photos from the weekend are terrible. There's not much time between running around looking after students. Cones need to be set. Porta-potties need to be visited. Students don't stand still too long in the unseasonable cold we've been enduring. I know Steve Williams advised me to squeeeze the trigger. I had one shot and blew it. Just consider them crudely drawn illustrations.

Our young man did okay on the riding part. There was a little timidity showing around the edges. Bravado would be punctuated by a need for affirmation. Underneath it all I there were signs of a desire to please the instructors. Sometimes it was hard to see that particular part. You see, the young man has a sort of smart mouth. It showed both on the range and in the classroom. A great example was during the discussion of impairment. One of the topics we cover is how to intervene and prevent friends from riding impaired. Asked how we could intervene, here's the answer the young man provided.

"Kick them in the coin purse so they're too sore to sit on the bike seat."

Interestingly, I was reminded of a young dog. Our student would smart off then give this crooked smile. Kind of like a pup who barks ferociously, then tries to appease a bigger dog by showing his underbelly.

As is usually the case, our young man drew some followers from the rest of the class. Befitting a person who has designs on being a gang leader.

Social misfits, all. I don't mean that in a bad way. Some people just aren't comfortable in a social setting. Certain skills aren't as well developed as they might be. Finding each other gave them security within their own group. So now we had the gang leader and his loyal minions.

As it turns out, smart mouth and all, I ended up getting the last word.

Sunday afternoon brought graduation time. One by one I called the students out into the hallway. Each student was debriefed on their passing status. I picked appropriate parting words for each individual. Soon it was time for our young pup to visit with the big dawg. That would be me. Just in case there was any sort of confusion on that part. I told him that he had passed. His completion card was handed over. Time for some parting words. I mulled over several possibilities. What would cap off the experience we had shared? What words would reflect the flavor of the relationship this witty young man and I had shared over the weekend? Then the words came to me.

"One last thing I'd like to know, young man. What do you plan to call your new gang? Hell's Nerds?"

Miles and smiles,

Dan




14 comments:

bobskoot said...

I suppose that you see this all the time where students try to appease the instructor, rather than to learn the fundamentals of riding. Somehow you just know that in a few days they may have forgotten everything they learned. As you have previously stated, repetition is the key to reaction so that your movements become second nature.
And being the top Dawg your brain must have gone into overdrive trying to come up with the "last word"

bob
bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Bryce said...

Well Done Son...
Nerds, Turds, and well thought words

Baron's Life said...

How could there ever be any doubt on who the top Dog was/is?...
Good story..I like the gang name miles and smiles...original...thi young man will go places on his scooter...

-Tim said...

Dude that was cold...

R.G. said...

Okay, everybody in the room who remembers being that "young dog" raise your hand...come on now.. thought so. Great post.

Charlie6 said...

Dan

Scooter gangs...reminds me of the ones in Italy while I was stationed there with the US Army. They moved in packs, never less than ten, the whine of their vespa engines warning of their approach. The male riders helmetless, leather jacketed with chrome spikes or studs or chains. The menacing effect of the "hells angel" look they sought to achieve counteracted amusingly by the fact they were on little 50cc Vespas.

The female riders or passengers more fashionably attired in eye-catching couture, but still helmetless.

They'd swarm around one's vehicle, in typical heavy Italian traffic, buzz past and reform their formation in front of you. Like buzzing locusts going around some obstacle. Quite unnerving to me at the time, I was more worried about bumping into one of them and squishing them under the cage's tires.....

Great post, it brought back long forgotten images...

Lucky said...

I went on a ride with one of the local scooter clubs a year or two ago. Those guys can RIDE. It was one of the few times the Triumph felt sluggish and clumsy.

Overall a fun bunch, but I'm not nearly fashionable enough to hang out with them on a regular basis.

That, and I ride alone. ;)

Jack Riepe said...

Dear IronDad:

Did it ever occur to you that this poor young man probably went home. drank everything in the house, and cried himself to sleep?

Put yourself in his place. Here he is, 45 years old, living at home, and thinking that everyone carries a change purse like he does. (The last thing I would ever do is try to find out if someone had a chain purse so I could kick him there. I would just kick him in the balls.)

You were his hero... And you cut him off at the knees. Now in addition to all his other problems, he's 3'2" tall. He'd probably signing up for the Betty Ford clinic right now, after taking a week to ride there on 49cc.

Fondest regards,
Jack
Twisted Roads

Heinz N Frenchie said...

Sounds like your student had a case of mouth overload. As you mentioned a puppy's bark is always louder than their bite. He'll grow up and at least he has been taught the right way. Now it is up to him to follow that path.

Conchscooter said...

social misfits. Takes one to know one.

Orin said...

Scooter gang? Oh, my...

I've had my share of conversations about someone wanting a scooter because they want to be a Mod, and while I've wanted to say, "gosh, I'm sorry your search for an identity has gone so badly that you have to latch onto a romanticized version of something that died out 40 years ago," I never have.

I am simply dismayed that so few people seem to understand that a scooter is not a toy, but a serious transportation device (yes, even if it does have a 50cc engine), and that you really need to develop the skills that will allow you to be a confident rider in traffic because you're the most vulnerable motorized thing in traffic.

I bought a scooter for the gas mileage, not to be a Mod. Or to be part of a "gang"...

kz1000st said...

Scooter Gangs, I love it. very time someone says that I see a bunch of intellectuals racing from one Espresso joint to another. They use to call Motorcyclists TT riders (Tavern to Tavern), now they can call these guys SS riders (Starbucks to Starbucks).

cpa3485 said...

We are trying to form a new scooter club here in our fair city. We have been batting around possible names for the club (gang).

You have provided us with new insight as to possible names.

I'll let you know what we decide on. I am hoping for something out of the ordinary.

A. Scooterdawg said...

Hey. Just thought I'd comment you back. Weather had our Northeasterly riders snowed in for a bit.

I do commute to work and school exclusively on a bike (Around 5K miles since last June in every sort of weather), but that's not the principal point of the blog I've got going.

Fun story though. I wish I could find an open MSF course down in my part of the country, but they're booked for months.