“I’m in for anything that brings people together.”
Driving home after a dinner with friends and family. I came across a group of bikers.
Picture a casual outdoor gathering, killer motorcycles parked along the road, and a bunch of leather jacketed bikers sharing stories over after ride coffee. At the time it seemed to mein a gathering like that, someone would gladly volunteer to be interviewed.
Sadly, I was pushed aside, when I found it difficult to engage in any meaningful conversation. It was a parking lot full of cliques, each person huddling around tables or reclining on steps; and all deeply immersed in their own dialogue.
However, it did manage to talk to two guys, but they were definitely not interested in being photographed. Something I could tell by the tense stares from one of them that. An acknowledgement, that although my presence was being tolerated, I was not welcome.
Deflated from that rejection, I hit the road; uncertain of whom I would be meeting that evening. It took about twenty miles for me to regain my composure, when as I did, I came across a second gathering of bikers mingling in yet another parking lot. Again, as did group one, all huddled in cliques and deep in dialogue.
Shaking off my apprehension to approach more bikers, I felt a bit jaded. Even a little shaky in dealing with the baggage I was carrying from the first encounter. But I went ahead and parked my car. Took a breath and readied myself for a second try.
It was a much larger gathering than the first that rejected me. At least three times the size of the earlier encounter I figured my odds of meeting a stranger were in my favor. I dusted myself off and lined up for pitch two. To the trunk I went, grabbed my forty-pound backpack of photographic power, turned to the plate, and off I went.
Hey, bear with me, it’s not easy writing a personable and sometimes witty blog entry every night. So if I want to write a baseball comparison for soliciting a group of bikers, just humor me a little 🙂
The lot was dim, the sound of revving bikes filled the air, and surrounded by a group of admirers, I spotted an amazingly painted Suzuki 750. It was two-wheeled eye candy as it’s finest; a four-cylinder, four-stroke, liquid-cooled magnet that beckoned me to know its creator. Not knowing who was responsible for such a beast, I walked up, complimented the bikes cool factor, introduced myself, what I was doing and stood by for a response. Without division, all hands pointing, and in perfect harmony, “its his.”
Johnny was his name and it was obvious that the group liked him. Engaging, warm and articulate he was, and fully buying into what I was doing, he completely identified with the project. Liking the outreach factor it presented, he endorsed, “I’m in for anything that brings people together.”
Johnny was a very smart cat. At twenty-four he had already capitalized on international commerce, building a very successful import/export business between the United States and Vietnam; and by the looks of the custom paint on his bike, hand painted by a tattoo artist, he was doing quite well. Paint jobs like that do not come at a small price.
There was no guile or ego in Johnny’s persona. He talked of values his father instilled in him. Values that had led him to the balanced perspective he lived by.
A few of Johnny wisdom’s
“Work hard, play later.
“Money is not everything. Health is golden.
“Be willing to sacrifice wasted time to stay focused.
“Live life to the fullest.”
“As a kid, I liked speed,”and by the look of his bike, I think he found fast, and it seemed to be his release. “Biking is a big part of my life, it frees me and allows my to relax.”
But there was more to it that going fast,I learned of the closeness within the biker community and how it sticks together. “It’s not an unusual thing to get a high-five from an unknown fellow biker,” Johnny explained.
The group was pushing to leave and it was time to wrap. Yet, I had one more question to ask. A question that from that point forward morphed into part of the through-line leading to the evolution of Sidewalk Ghosts.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
With understated humility, and in honor to his father’s advice, “be your own boss,” he answered, “based out of my home country, Vietnam. I want to be the biggest import/export business in the world.”
Johnny, Thanks for the interview, keep speeding forward.
Talk tomorrow my good friends,
Readers, if you are returning, so nice to be with you again. If you are new, looking forward to getting to know you.
To all: please comment,like, and forward. Every engagement goes a long way toward connecting us; as together, we grow a movement that betters the way we view and treat one another.