Gas bar thieves

Slime is everywhere, most notably if one is an habitué of the gas bar in a well-traveled area. I pity the poor tourist who fills his tank and wanders into the store to pay in cash. If he’s lucky, he’s rounded up to the nearest dollar, which makes counting his change that much easier.

More likely, he’s at a gas’n’go and has used his credit card at the pump, but must wander into the store for water, pop, gum, cigarettes, or a treat for his sweet tooth.

If the day is long, like mine are, then attention isn’t at its highest.

High enough, mind you, to let the teller know that I gave her a twenty.

“Oh, sorry,” she replies, sounding too practiced and too much in haste. An honest error more often gets a fumbled reply.

When the cashier is trying to take you, the cash goes right into the till before she gives change back.

If the cashier is smart, the bill is left laying on the till while she hands you your change. That way, you can’t screw the cashier by telling her that you gave her a larger bill. It evens things out.

Still holding out my open hand, I get my ten dollars added to the change in my palm. When I press the point by looking the cashier in the eye, she looks away, then turns around and pretends to do something else.

Nice try, sez I.

No response, but then, I didn’t expect one.

I waited for about 20 seconds before I turned and left.

Out of the corner of my eye, I watched as she then turned around.

I waved the ten at her as I was going out the door.

I really enjoyed cheating the thief out of her ten-spot.

Whispering pines, rustling palms

Pine trees whisper, palm trees rustle

Palm trees rustle, pine trees whisper

I was sitting with a woman I was “sort of” seeing at the time. There was a breeze blowing. The palm trees surrounding the oasis were making those sounds that they make when the wind blows.

“Whispering,” I said to her, thinking of an old motel that I was familiar with.

“Palm trees don’t whisper. They rustle,” she replied.

She was right, of course, and I didn’t argue with her. But, some weeks later, in the dark, while in bed, she tried to shove a knife into me. More than once. I didn’t take it personally, but I left town in a hurry and didn’t look back.

Who’d have thought that whispering pines and rustling palms would have had such an effect?

Or, perhaps it was the other woman I was seeing who worked in the same bar. They hated each other’s guts, but obviously they still talked.

Women — can’t live with ’em, and can’t live without ’em.

Men — stupid.

Anyway, that’s the motel I was thinking about when I blurted out the whispering palms in obvious error. It’s closed now, of course, and has been for a very long time.

Roadside assistance for the distressed

I’m still on the north shore of Lake Superior.

It was cloudy and cool this morning.

Having only 140 miles to go, I took my time and got on the road by 0900. Unfortunately, I had to stop to put on the rain pants since the highway was wet. There was only the occasional drop of water on the windshield, so it must have rained much earlier.

At about the 20 minute mark I was flagged down by a kid out of Manitoba on an ’84 Yamaha two-banger. He was heading south also, but his engine died. Without tools, he couldn’t do much. I loaned him some of mine (the ones he could use, since I don’t carry metric) and he drained his two fuel bowls.

Clear and bright.

The plugs were good. The plug leads were a tad sketchy (thanks for that word, Kayla) and broke off in my hand.

That’s normal, sez the kid.

Well, okay, I guess. It’s his bike.

He’s done all the work on it to date. He’s got a nice hand-made spiderweb lower fairing. It’s not actually a fairing, but if it were covered, it would be.

Eventually, he manages to get to the fuel filter. It has fuel in it, so he thinks it’s okay.

Not necessarily, I tell him. Why not pull it, drain some into that empty Tim Horton’s cup and see what it looks like?

I’ll do that, sez the kid.

Hmm. Grass. How did green lawn grass get into the fuel filter, I ask?

Dunno, sez the kid.

The fuel line gets reconnected, the kid engages the starter, and away we go.

Problem solved.

During this series of events, an interested OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) officer drives by a couple of times, passing in both directions and obviously on his highway patrol, giving us the eye. Finally, he can stand it no longer and pulls in behind us to see what the hell is going on.

He turned out to be a pretty nice guy, actually, giving helpful advice and offering clean gas to the kid.

I don’t know if the kid accepted or not, because once the motorcycle turned over, I collected my tools and got back on the road.

It poured for the remainder of my 100 mile ride.

My thanks to Aerostich and their Darien rain gear. It’s kept my ass dry for decades now.

*     *     *

Not too many riders stop for a motorcycle by the side of the road any more. There are too many RUBs out there who think a cell phone and a trailer can solve all the problems one might encounter.

Even if one of those guys were to stop, his assistance would be limited to going for gas, or to make a phone call. Mechanical help wouldn’t be an option, I’m certain. Tools? Why carry tools? I have a five-year warranty.

Unfortunately, in the boondocks (believe me, the north shore of Lake Superior is the boondock nation), a rider stopping to offer help and support is a welcome relief. The look of gratitude on the kid’s face when I pulled over was all that I needed to see, even without his immediately knowing whether I could help or not.

Fortunately, this time, I could.

Mexico bullshit, the true grit way

Author’s note: I tagged this with the Baja, but it’s about travel on mainland Mexico. Same dif, just a more diverse part of the country. And yes, I’ve ridden the mainland too – in fact, those very same roads that this guy whines and snivels about.

While I recognize the need for some to embellish their tales of motorcycle derring-do, it disappoints me greatly the length to which some will go to provide false and misleading information. Over the years I have ridden to Mexico many times, and have never encountered one problem. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t any.

For a most enjoyable read on wintering in Mexico, fast forward to this post.

*     *     *     *

I’ve been reading about a bike trip some clown on a bagger took from Victoria, Canada to Mexico. It’s titled “Mexico Standoff”. Apparently this guy had been planning his ride to Ixtapa for years, but when he finally started his online research, everyone he contacted cautioned him against making the trip by motorcycle “with a lot of negative and scary reports”.

Oh mommy, don’t make me go.

By the third picture of his motorcycle, and the eighth paragraph of his sad tale, somewhere by Ely, Nevada, he’s complaining about strong wind threatening to throw him off of “his steed”, and rain showers. You pussy. Why not take the opportunity to vist one of the whorehouses in Ely – say, the Stardust – and relax with a beer while talking up the girls? You don’t have to sample the wares; you can just sit there and bullshit. But I digress.

By Nogales, he’s gotten himself checked into a sleazy motel right by the border. Yeah, shure. I’ve been through Nogales a time or two, and let me tell you, there are no sleazy motels right beside the border, chum. The border is completely denuded of anything for quite a distance. Those pesky coyotes and the illegals have seen to that.

While crossing into Mexico at a major port of entry can be a bit of an adventure, it usually entails riding on past the marker and watching the light. If it stays green, you keep right on going. Only when it turns red do you pull over for an inspection. Nogales is one of the more benign ports, believe me. It’s pretty much devoid of the traffic hassles that you can get riding into Mexicali or Tj. There’s not much chance you’ll get run over by an impatient truck or taxi at Nogales.

Naturally, once across the border, this guy’s paranoia factor is wound up to 10 because the poverty-stricken are watching him on his Harley-Davidson. Well shit, that’s a given. You get people staring at you in Bumfuck, America when you ride through town. Take a valium, dumbass, because almost everyone wants to look and listen when you ride by. It’s human nature for the great unwashed to want to fantasize about being out on the road and on their way to nowhere while riding a motorcycle loaded to the gills. Furthermore, in Mexico your fat ass is sitting on more dollars than most of those people will get their hands on in a lifetime.

Before I conclude my whining about this loser’s life, let me explain one more thing that he goes negative on, and that’s the military checkpoints. He makes a point of disparaging the young soldiers and their commanding officers that man these checkpoints by suggesting that they might want bribes. In my entire riding life down Mexico way, never — and I repeat, never! — have I ever been asked for money from anyone at these checkpoints. That is complete and utter bullshit, and to even suggest that it might occur is beyond the pale, in my opinion.

There’s much crying about bad roads, bad roadblocks, bad policia, bad military checkpoints ad nauseam. To top it all off, a day and a half from this guy’s destination, the dumbass turns tail and rides back home.

Oh mommy, I miss you.

Now that’s true grit.