Monday, October 21, 2002

How do you express anger and frustration, how do you expose bad policy, when you KNOW you are in a lose-lose situation? When you know nothing you say will be correct, yet you cannot really accept the “judgment” of the authority in place?

I have not learned this yet. Of course, the easy answer is to avoid putting oneself in these situations. However, to live the enlightened life, you MUST go beyond. You sometimes HAVE to put yourself in the situation, you sometimes have to accept the risk, and KNOW the possible outcome.

However, once you get called to the carpet, how do you say “You are over-reacting, this is silly, back down”? to someone who will not?

I have not learned this yet.

After 4 years of Marriage, I know how to back down, I know how to kowtow to authority, I know how to grovel. But I do not know how to stand for what I truly feel is right, when I KNOW I cannot win.

I said “It was done with the best of intentions, but worst of judgment”. However, I did not mean it. It was the “soothing” words that needed to be said, but not the words I felt.

Okay, now you want to know what happened, and I will try to explain.

Racing at Thunderhill Park, Friday was open practice. Not affiliated with the AFM, just an open day. However, Saturday is a club day, and Sunday is the last race of the season. When I go racing, there are people called corner workers. People stand at each corner of the track, they communicate with walkie-talkies, they pick up the bikes when people fall down, they contact ambulances if needed, basically, they are the guardian angels who make sure I stay alive when racing. And, they do it on a volunteer basis.

So at the last race of the year, on the last Saturday, there is a benefit dinner for the cornerworkers. And the 250 Production group, the part of the club I race in, usually raises money, which we give to the corner workers to divide up. Sort of a thank you gift, to help pay for all the white pants and shirts they wear, to help with some of the costs they pony up to come watch over us.

This year, the 250 group had less than the usual amount of money. In an attempt to boost the cash pot, one of the ladies in the club suggested she would donate some money, and try to ask others to donate, for every person who rode naked in the pits after Friday’s practice. Okay, a naked ride on bikes, this is funny, okay, I am in.

Only 3 people are going to ride. Me, Jack and Marcus from the 125 group. We meet in our pits, strip down, but are wearing helmet, gloves and boots, what we are required to wear in the pits. We ride up and down, a clean lap of the pit. People are cheering, people are screaming, it is hilarious. There is laughter, AND people are donating money to the corner workers.

As we got back to the pits, put on shorts, put away the bikes, this guy pulls up on a golf cart. And he is angry, screaming, and somewhat irrational. He wants the “name and plate number” of every bike who rode. He confronts Jack and I. Marcus has left, but golf cart man wants to know Marcus name and number. Sound familiar? Yes. Give me your papers! Name and Number! Do this now! Authority! Power! Control.

“You guys are out of here, dismissed for the weekend”

We tried to do something nice and the authority figures freak out.

Fortunately, John Fosgate, the club announcer goes to the management booth, and talks to the Manager. He cuts a deal, we have to come up with $100 each to donate to the corner workers, and we have to go suck crap through a straw. I mean apologize to the management.

The 250P group had already raised some money, and people tossed in fast, to bring us up to $300. We are there. We are financially in. The three of us walk to the management office with John the announcer. He is insistent, on how this WILL go down, we will be humble, we will apologize, we will be soo sorry it hurts.

Okay, I can do this. But why? Why must I apologize for something I thought was right? Why should I apologize for raising money for my guardian angels? What the HELL is wrong with 3 guys riding around the pits naked to raise money? I have seen MUCH weirder stuff in California.

We get into the office, and there are three guys behind a counter. One is the manager, one is the security guy, and the third is golf cart man. Golf cart man is the most upset, but the manager guy seems pretty upset too. Apparently at a previous event, there was a fight, and blood, and police. And Motorcyclists have a bad image, and we should not make more trouble.

Wait? How was raising money for corner workers violent? What did we do that was hurtful to others? But the right thing to do is apologize. The right thing to do is make this man happy, so we can race tomorrow. We need to apologize to this close minded, small little man, in order to keep good relations for our race club.

Marcus is doing his best not to laugh. I am giving my most sincere, kicked puppy, beaten husband look. And Jack is just trying hard not to say anything. Why is this a quest for justice? Why is this guy haranging me, and asking me to act as his “deputy” to keep all the bikers at bay? Why is he telling us he wants his race track to be the next Sears Point? What is this crap?

I know the answer. Soothing words. Apparent sincere apology. “Well Sir, it was the best of intentions, but with bad judgment” He buys it. Set the hook and reel him in. “I am very sorry, WE are very sorry, we were trying to raise money for the corner workers, we did not think about how wrong this was, we are sorry, we won’t do it again” And he is almost landed.

“You seem to be sorry, and you too, “ as he points to Marcus, who must have been making puppy dog eyes, “but you” pointing to Jack “how about you?”

There is a long pregnant pause, and Jack finally eeks out a “yes, sorry”. Jack OBVIOUSLY does not believe, Jack is taller than the manager, Jack is an imposing, threatening presence. Hairy, with a beard and long hair. A troublemaker. A large, bad, naked man.

But his effort worked, Manager guy is into it, he will work with us, and he lets us go. And go we do.

When we get out of the office, walking back to the pits, I feel dirty. I have lied. I have lied about my feelings, I have lied about my belief. I DID ride around naked to raise money, and I did not hurt anyone. Our ride was not violent, it was not hurtful, it was meant to raise money. And it did.

We return to the pits, knowing, golf cart guy is out for us. He WILL be looking for a reason to kick us out tomorrow. What the hell? I will do my best. Whatever that may be. But I want a shower, I want to clean the filthy feel of insincere apology off. Damnation.

Everyone in our group wants to know what happened. They want to know what was said, they want to be close to the dirty laundry. It was just wrong, all around wrong. We raised over $300. We rode naked in the pits, but who knows what happens tomorrow.

I used to like Thunderhill as a track, but from now on, I think Buttonwillow will be the track I go to for track days, and I will not give any extra money to the support of Thunderhill. These guys do not care about our racing, they care about bottom line, only.

What a load of shite.



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