A saying from when I attended motor school was "Rubber side down." In our specialty assignment of riding a police motorcycle, be they Harley's, BMW's, Honda's or the old work horse Kawasaki's, we ride very aggressively during enforcement.
My dad was pissed when I got out of the military and ended a promising career there. He was a "lifer" in the same branch of service and retired after 23 years. Me, I didn't want to watch my son grow up through pictures so when my time was up after my second enlistment I got out and became a civilian.
When I was first hired by the Sheriff's Department my dad was proud. He never pitched a bitch about my lack of sanity for choosing a dangerous line of work, nor did he pitch a bitch when I worked the very less desirable areas of the county where back-up was something the city police departments had the luxury of.
So one day it was posted on the line up board that the department was starting a new motor unit and had a total of five positions open, 1 Sergeant and 4 Deputies.
I had just been involved in an "on-duty" traffic collision and was found to be the party most at fault. It was a solo vehicle accident during a pursuit (another story for another time). So I wasn't expecting to be one of the "chosen".
Matter of fact, I thought my chances were so far out that I put my request down on a department memo form and wrote it in various colors of crayons with my left hand, complete with backward letters and misspelled words.
Much to my surprise I was chosen for one of the positions and was scheduled to attend a motor academy. I didn't tell the new motor sergeant that I had let my motorcycle endorsement on my driver license laps (once again, another story for another time).
So here I decide to tell my dad the good news. Of course he'll be proud. He's the guy who bought me my first motorcycle and taught me how to ride!
Our conversation went something like this:
2WT: (spoken with little kid excitement) Hey Dad, I was selected to become a motor officer with the department!
2WT: (still with the little kid excitement) I was selected to become a motor officer, YES!
Dad: What in the hell did you do that for?! Do you know how dangerous that is?! Why would you want to do something like that for?! Wait until your mother hears about this! I don't think that's a good idea! I have a retired motor sergeant friend who's told me about how dangerous that job is and how many police funerals he's been to for motor officers killed doing their job.
2WT: (in between Dad's verbal tiff) Because, yes, uh, but, but.....
Well when Dad finally finished, I bluntly told him, "And who bought me my first motorcycle and taught me how to ride it?! and who bought me a bigger street legal motorcycle just before I was old enough to get my driver learning permit?.....
There was silence on the other end of the phone.... then, "Well just don't tell your mother, and son, according to my Sergeant friend, it's the most dangerous day to day assignment for a police officer." From all of the fallen motor officer funerals I've attended, Dad was right.
We don't think about that when we're riding. We know it's always in the back of our minds but we do what we do because we love what we do. I've had a few close calls, but this past week I had a real close call.
I'm cruising down the road and I see this car who was supposed to yield to oncoming traffic before making its left turn. I let off the throttle just in case idiot decides to make his turn.
Sure enough he does, but it was past the point where I felt comfortable that he saw me coming. I never knew you could taste the leather seat through your ass, but I did. I never applied the brakes so hard! I could feel the ABS brakes pulsating.
As I neared the passenger side of the car, several what I thought were going to be my last thoughts were;
#1 This is going to fucking hurt!
#2 How am I going to explain this to the Lt.
#3 I am truly going to miss the special people in my life.
#4 Fuck! Dad was right! (I could hear him saying "See, I told you so.")
Fortunately, especially for me, a collision was very narrowly avoided. I stopped, parked the motor and got off the bike shaking uncontrollably. The driver of the car pulled over and parked. He got out of his car and apologized profusely. I was ready to let my mouth take control, then I saw his son get out of the driver door. He looked to be about 7 years old.
I couldn't for the life of me say what I felt like saying. I'm sure he didn't truly see me. He was very apologetic and kept asking if I was okay.
I was able to reply, "Man that was close. Are you and your son okay? I think I just lost five years off of my life and that's five years I can't afford." I didn't give the guy a ticket (although I should have) because it's hard to write when you can't keep your hand from shaking.
Well after that I headed back to the office where I had a cigar (because I was still on duty and couldn't take a shot of some "Old #7") I had a partner to lean on and that was plenty good.
They say the best therapy is to get right back into the saddle. Yep, I went out and wrote some more tickets and felt like my usual self at the end of my shift.
To my partner, thanks for being there.