"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,