Monday, May 2, 2011

Why I'm Probably Not Going To Give You A Ride Anytime Soon

I was waiting for a green light when a young woman crossing the street asked me, in a shockingly loud voice, if I'd give her a ride. The response that came to mind was, "No, you look like an aspiring crackhead," but saying that out loud would have been rude.

Instead, I smiled politely and said, "Not today."

Undeterred, she asked, "How about tomorrow?"

Well, she was persistent, I have to give her that. I said, "We'll see," and the light turned green, giving me a perfect excuse to end the conversation.

If I, by some stroke of fate, run into her tomorrow, I'm still not going to give her a ride. I hope that doesn't make me a bad person.

The young woman I encountered today is hardly the first woman I've never met before to ask when I'll give her a ride. It happens frequently. I'm sure most of you have had the same experience: someone in the general areas spots your bike, and asks for a ride.* I always smile and say no.

It's not like I don't want to share the joy of riding with new friends (or old friends, for that matter). Riding is great! Everyone should do it.**

Riding is great, but great passengers are few and far between. I can think of one passenger who hasn't done something to terrify me at speed, and that's because she'd been a passenger with other riders in the past, so she understood the "sit there without flailing around and hang on" principle completely. Other passengers I've had have done things like lean the wrong way in turns after I'd explicitly told them to lean with me.

There's nothing like the taste of adrenaline in your mouth when you think you're going to wad the bike with a passenger on the back. I've learned my lesson. If I don't know that I can trust a passenger to behave, they don't get on.

Another thing is that the Triumph isn't really built for passengers. If you're taller than five and a half feet, we're both going to have a rough time. So unless you're a tiny, tiny person, the rear seat and foot pegs are really just for show. If I had a bigger bike like a Goldwing, one where we'd both have a bit of space, I might feel differently.

But another issue, and it's a big one, I have with giving rides is a little more personal: I don't really like it when people I know well get in my personal bubble. If I don't know you, forget it. Going for a ride with a passenger, on the Speed Four, is like getting a prolonged hug. If I'm not one hundred percent comfortable with a passenger, they aren't getting on. There are very, very few people I don't mind having pressed up against me. If I'm not comfortable with the passenger, I'm going to be distracted, and that's not safe for either of us.

So it's nothing against you, possible crackhead stranger, but I'm probably not going to give you a ride.

*Would you hop on the motorcycle of a total stranger? Seems like volunteering for a really bad experience to me, but then, I'm sort of the cautious type.

**Until it becomes apparent that, maybe, they should not actually ride.