Thursday, November 03, 2005


I read an article the other day that spoke to how well (in general) motorcyclists treat each other. How we’re all a loosely coupled ‘brotherhood’, joined by our common love of motorcycling.

I think the author was right, it is a strange connection. When Maryan, Tim, Donna and I were riding in the Rockies, the shift lever on Tim’s bike slipped loose and neither of us had a wrench in the tool kit that would fit it.

We were in the parking lot of an old gas station that appeared to have been closed for years. His bike is stuck in 3rd gear and we were a hundred miles or so from our ‘base camp’ in Denver.

We’d only been sitting there for 10 minutes or so, looking at maps and debating what the ‘best’ direction for me to head out looking for a place to buy a wrench was, when a fellow driving a wrecker pulled into the parking lot.

He climbed down out of the wrecker, and asked if we had a problem, or were we just taking a break. We explained our situation and he immediately started going through all the various tool boxes on the wrecker looking for a wrench that would fit.

He eventually found one, with it I was able to reattach and adjust Tim’s shift lever. I then took the bike for a test spin and returned. As the guy was packing things back onto his wrecker we asked what we owed him. His response was “Nothing”, that he rode too, and hoped that one day, if he broke down, someone would stop and help him out.

It is a strange connection, it’s pretty rare for a wrecker operator to stop and help a stranded auto driver, and then not want to get paid.

However, I think it goes far beyond motorcycling. I think we humans like to be ‘bonded’ to others. To find folks with common interests, who share our likes, dislikes and associate ourselves with them.

There are groups, clubs and organizations of every size, shape and style imaginable. Each has, at its core, the specific interest or desire of the members. These exist both online and out here in the real world. In the early days of ‘collective computing’ the service ‘Compuserv’ called them “SIG’s” or special interest groups and they were full of folks from all over the place who had that specific ‘interest’ in common.

If you talk to most motorcyclists, they’ll claim to be individualists (myself included). If these individualists band together, and if you’ve ever been to a bike rally you must have noticed how they all seem to dress alike as well, it struck me that maybe, we all like to belong to a group.

Not any group mind you, but a group that believes the same things we do.

I’m not really a “joiner”, I don’t belong to clubs, or groups, but I do like to be in the company of folks with similar interests.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this line of thought, but, I do know it speaks to the universality, the commonality, we all share. While we may enjoy some amount of time alone, none of us really wants to be alone, all the time, despite how unique we believe ourselves to be.

Instead we seek out the company of others, we attend seminars, join clubs, or simply gather in chat rooms to talk with those who share a common interest, despite how individualistic we ‘feel’, or want to be.

I think there’s some inner validation, some joy, in conversing with others who ‘get’ our particular interest. That there are others, who enjoy the same things we do, joins us to them somehow, and like the motorcyclist, we share our knowledge, our tricks, tips and so on, and in return listen to theirs as well.

I’ll come back to this when I’ve thought it through a bit more.

Things have been hectic at work this week. New Duns files to prepare and match, the industry was in town this week as well and the majority of my time has been spent in meetings hashing out a spec document and gathering business rules for the match process for both the pre-production and production phases of this project.

Those of you who’ve ever gathered business rules will understand the difficulty of getting a company, let alone an industry to agree on common rules and procedures!!

All in all the meetings went well. We’ve gotten through the questions on the spec document, and answered all of the ‘rules’ questions and are able to move forward once again with the project.

I’m looking forward to the weekend though, the dumpster finally showed up and we’ll be able to get rid of all the ‘trash’ that’s piled up outside the garage. In addition we’ve decided to haul everything out of the closets, and toss anything we haven’t used since we’ve moved in!!


jenbeauty said...

I think we humans like to be ‘bonded’ to others. To find folks with common interests, who share our likes, dislikes and associate ourselves with them.

Without eachother where would we be. I would like to think we would help someone in need as well. I think it is easier for men to do this though. Great thoughts Bill.

Chloe said...

Another great post, Bill. I think we all just wanna be valued and understood. You're right about connection - it's a universal need.

Bill said...

Jen - Thanks Jen, I agree, and it is easier for men, than for women... if for no other reason, we're simply less likely (statistically) to be victimized while doing so.

Chloe - Thanks. The question still rattling around in my head is why do we seek 'groups' of others to validate what we already believe? Not condemming it, just wondering about it.

Jay said...

Oooh, the dumpster's here! Hip hip, horray!

I've definitely seen the biker thing in effect lately, ever since my mother got a new boyfriend who rides, and she's become a motorcycle mama. Ew.

Firehawk said...


It's easy to characterize people as being insensitive and uncaring as a some ways, that's true. I've found, though, that you tend to encounter a lot of kind people on the road, a lot of people who'll go out of their way to give you a hand. I try to repay that in kind when I get the chance. It's not just bikers, though there is a fraternal element to that group (no offense meant to the female contingent, of course, I just had that word pop into my head, and couldn't think of a gender-neutral term).

We have a period coming up when we can donate old clothes. I think it's always a good feeling to trim away the excess and have a bit of space again. We had a huge dumpster once when we were overhauling our house, and it was great to see it filling up, cubic yard by cubic yard.

Take it easy.

Comfort Addict said...


That's a wonderful story. I think that helping each other out is the greatest expression of love that we humans can show each other.

Bill said...

Jay - I take it you're not cool with Mom's transformation? Give it a few months, like with anything new there's a tendency to go 'all out' at first... she'll find her groove.

Firehawk - I think, there are far more who will help, than not... I've travelled a lot, by car, bike, truck, and air... and for the most part I've met some really great folks... Unfortunately, it seems we tend to remember those bad experiences much longer than the good ones!

I should also note, we're not 'tossing' anything really useful. Clothes and furniture always go to a charitable organization...

I am however having a good time tossing out the crap I've been lugging around for more than a decade now, hoping it would become useful again... it's cathartic in a way, a tossing of of the old, to make room for the new.

CA - I couldn't agree more, there's a feeling (for me) that surrounds truly helping another person that I really don't have the words to explain at the moment.

I'm glad y'all enjoyed that, I'm certain I'll be expanding these thoughts soon as they're still rattling around in my head.

Whit said...

Ahhh Bill, how do you do it!? You tapped on a topic that is near and dear to me...Being interwoven. I think we all want to feel like we are special..that there is something uniquely ours. But at the same time, we don't want to feel freakish or weird. It is our very nature to be connected, I believe. I have been walking a very lonely road these last few months, and even though I know no one can walk it with me, I have found such comfort in sometimes just being around other people. Not talking, not commiserating about my circumstance, but simply being in their physical presence. I could go on and on and on about comraderie and how incredibly special it is when you experience it -- whether it is with an established group of friends...or a stranger on the byways...or a fellow blogger...there is something satisfying about that.

Thank you for sharing that story and for reminding us of that desire and the need to be connected with one another.

Master of None said...

Ship that dumpster over to my house when you're finished. We've got piles and piles since we're getting ready to move.

Bill said...

Whit - I don't know... maybe, it's a topic near and dear to us all when you get right down to it. I think, that while the internet has in some was made the world smaller, it has also, in many ways, isolated us from human interactions.

I believe much the same things... we all want to be uniquely *us*, yet, at the same time have that uniqueness 'validated' as not 'too' strange.. well most of us anyway. I have known a few folks who wanted to be as 'out there' as possible and took pride in being viewed that way... that was their validation.

For the most part though, I know I need human interaction. While I can work in isolation, eventually I need to be around others if for no other reason than to bounce around ideas, and get that external mental stimulus.

MoN - I wish I'd done this before I moved, every time I've moved. So often, in the process of moving you would toss it, except the trash container is already full. For the $200 it's costing me to have this for a week, in my mind it's money well spent!!