The Charlie Bravo Story

Sales apnea

This one goes out to the ones I love; this one goes out to the ones I left behind…

Sleep apnea is a condition where your air intake is constricted when you sleep, and as a result, your organs, your lungs, brain, kidneys, but most importantly, your heart, never truly rest as your body fights for the oxygen that it needs to repair itself as you rest. Except you never really rest, and the downward spiral continues.

As many of you know, certain jobs are like sleep apnea of the soul, eating away at your contentment until it begins to vanish like the moon waning against the void of an inky black sky. But even when the only pinpricks of hope in the sky are the stars, and even sometimes they are hidden by the clouds, you know the moon is still there. You just have to wait for the earth to move so the light of the sun can once again illuminate the moon, and the cycle continues.

When my previous employer and I parted ways a few months ago, the earth began to move. Instead of the doom and despair one would expect to feel at fifty-six years old in today’s society, it was as if a boot of fear and self loathing had been lifted from my neck. If you’re in a business that requires you to misrepresent the facts to your customer, or that puts such ridiculous requirements on you that it forces you to manipulate numbers to make certain quotas, or worse yet, causes you to have to lie to yourself to justify any of the above, GET OUT!

Or if you ever hear the biggest lie ever uttered in corporate America: “these notes are for your benefit, not for ours”, as this translates directly as “from now on, we are going to be conducting an extensive colonoscopy without benefit of lube or anaesthesia, and you will be providing us with the tool”.

So I was out, but now what? I figured a would take a trip with Charlie to decompress a bit, go over into Utah, camp around the backcountry in the Mini Van Gogh, explore some slot canyons, etc, then come back home, be a good boy, and re-enter the rat race.

But wait! Upon returning, I learned of the need to get Trevor’s motorcycles delivered to Washington state; I figured that I would load my bike in with his bikes, and Charlie and I would drive the Uhaul to the Pacific northwest, then ride my Honda CB1100 across the country, 3900 miles back home to Arkansas. Great plan, and then Michael Steele made it even better; how about I instead drive the Uhaul to southern California, pick up a BMW motorcycle/sidecar rig that he was willing to donate so that others could take Trevor for rides, as he is no longer able to drive himself, the result of actions of a drunk driver. Hmmm… 1700 miles from Little Rock to Kernville, 1100 miles from Kernville to Lynden, WA in the UHaul, then 3911 miles home on the Honda across the Cascades, the Sawtooths, the Salt Flats, the Rockies on the Honda with a 60# dog on the back? Why would I want to do that? Why not?

Then again, I would be a good boy upon returning home, and press my nose firmly to the grindstone.

But… when coming across northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, I noticed the condition of the trails. The record snowfall had made a royal mess of the dirt roads in the back country, actually stranding many riders attempting spring trips. After returning from Washington, I was whupped and ready to take a break from the road, but Zach and some friends had already planned an offroad trip to New Mexico.

As I had just witnessed the condition of the trails, I thought to pull a trailer over to the NM/CO where they would finish; just in case they ran into difficulty, I could be there to pull them out. Of course, I took my off-road bike, but had no intentions of riding with them, was just going to be, you know, “over there”, in case they ran into trouble.

Self delusion is a powerful force.

We ended up running the majority of the New Mexico Backcountry Discovery Route together, 1500 miles of mud, sand, rain, hail, all the good stuff, and had actually finished it by crossing the state line into Colorado when bam, I went down, a freak accident, breaking my right leg and severely dislocating my ankle. And all this less than ten miles from where we had planned our self-congratulatory lunch.

So instead of returning home in triumph, instead I’m laying in the back seat of the very vehicle that I thought to rescue others, my throbbing cast propped up on the window for the fifteen hour trip. And on top of that, I knew that ANOTHER trip was going to be necessary, this time to retrieve my bike that had to be left behind in the care of some incredibly kind people until I could find my way physically able to get back out there.

So, again, another road block to the whole “returning to the workforce” thing; laid up on the couch with a busted up leg, watching “Justified” and working on the new book after surgery on the ankle. I should be panicky and depressed, but for some reason, I’m still not.

So last week, mom and I decided to take advantage of the long holiday weekend and made a whirlwind dash out to Colorado to pick up the bike. The thought was that if we took the van, we could swap driving duties, with the cot available in case the walking boot became too uncomfortable and I needed to elevate my gimped-up stump. At the worst, I could prop it up on the dash, or better yet, soak it in some icy stream running with fresh snow melt when we hit the mountains; that’ll cure what ails ya…

When we got there, it was well after dark, and the GPS is as worthless as a turd in a punchbowl on those remote backroads in the Rockies. I finally pulled over to read the address on a random mailbox to determine our location, when a flood of mountain curs announced our arrival. The lady of the house came out and heard of our plight; it just so happened that her husband was one on the first on the scene when I corkscrewed my bike into the ground. He knew exactly where we were trying to go, and even got into his truck and led us there. And it’s a good thing he did, as I would have never found it on my own, especially in the dark of the night.

So now we’re back at the Casa del Whackos; Charlie and Marco had made the trip, but Alex had came over the three days we were gone to feed the other inmates, show them some attention, then put them back outside. We open the door to the smell of excessive dog funk; how can this be? The dogs have been outside! Then we noticed one of the bedroom doors was pushed closed; the neighbor’s 100# dog, Victor, had evidently been frightened by the fireworks, and snuck inside during one of Alex’s visits. We have no idea how long he was in there, but it was long enough to appear as if a herd of buffalo had decided to hang out for awhile after a trip to Taco Bell.

It was bad.

So, since my ignoble exit from the crippling corporate world, I estimate that, whether it be by auto, minivan, uhaul, or motorcycle, Charlie and I have traveled well over 18,000 miles, and it’s been quite the party. The ankle is healing nicely, and we’re ready to return to some sense of normalcy, if there is such a thing in this crazy world we all live in. Has it been a vacation? Not on your life, as I’ve never worked harder with nothing to show for it monetarily, but the stories.

And it’s all about the stories.

Is this recounting for my benefit? A little, but I hope that it’s more for you, wherever you are, sitting there on a Sunday night, feeling the dread build as you are working on your call planner for the upcoming week. It may have to be that way now, but it doesn’t have to be that way always; this too shall pass. The earth will move, the sun will shine, the moon will once again be full.

We be of one blood, ye and I.

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