The Charlie Bravo Story

The light at the end of the tunnel ain’t a train.

Dad here… 2019, what a year. First the good: in April, I was involuntarily released from indentured servitude, allowing me to regain a bit of sanity. So Charlie and I decided to do what any smart person would do in such a situation, and with mom’s blessing, took the Mini Van Gogh on a camping trip out to explore the slot canyons of Utah.

The plan was to clear the cobwebs, come back home and get back to work. Upon return, the opportunity arose to drive a Uhaul loaded with motorcycles to southern California to pick up a BMW sidecar rig that had been generously donated by one Michael Steele. The recipient of this magnanimous act was Trevor Ware, who had been left incapacitated by a hit and run drunk driver while living in Arkansas and had to move to Washington state due to medical and family issues. So, here Charlie and I go again, this time in a Uhaul, Arkansas to California, then up the Oregon coast to deliver the sidecar and Trevor’s other motorcycles to the extreme upper left corner of the continental US.

Did I mention that I had included my bike in the mix?

The delivery portion of the mission accomplished, we loaded my bike with all my camping gear and for three weeks crossed the country in a jagged route for home. The Cascades, the Sawtooths, the Bitterroots, the Bonneville Salt Flats, the Rockies; four thousand miles through every conceivable type of weather, all with a enthusiastic black dog on the back of the bike. The trip is a lifetime, or so one would think.

Again, to come back home, put my nose to the grindstone; that was the plan.

Then a short trip on the enduro(just one more!) across the New Mexican outback left me with a pretzled leg less than ten miles from my final destination; so much for the job search, at least for six weeks. I had recovered just enough from that freak accident to sneak out and do some side jobs(don’t tell the ortho surgeon). Things were looking up, so I had decided to take Charlie out for a short ride when a minivan decided that he wanted to be where I already was. I found myself flat on my back, the Charles licking my face through my shattered visor. When I took inventory of my extremities, I found I had two new issues: a broken collarbone, but more importantly, a totalled bike; the Honda CB1100 that had ferried us across the west. I know what you’re thinking, but bones heal, special bikes don’t.

So, there we were, looking at another 6 weeks, and I’m feeling pretty dang worthless, with mom carrying the weight of the bills. But what do you do? An intriguing business proposition presented itself, but would require extensive training and time, and the my sand was funneling quickly to the bottom half of my hourglass.

But surprisingly, I never freaked. Sure, the knowledge that I was starting over at a time when most are looking at retirement was a black buzzard perched on my shoulder, but compared to the soul-sucking corporate crate I had been trapped in for so many years, it was almost exhilarating. So in between the training and the testing, I supplemented odd jobs, often very inappropriately. I did motorcycle funeral escorts(on a broken leg). I trailered luxury vehicles across the country(with a broken collarbone). No bragging, these things just seemed to fall in my lap when the noose began to tighten, and the alternative was to sit home and watch The View.

So now I’m 90% healed up, and the business is slowly taking shape, and a beautiful shape it will be. But it takes time, a commodity that we’re running a bit short on. So to tide us over a bit until the word gets out and the jobs start coming in, and they will, I recently humbled down and started doing the whole Lyft/Uber thing.

I had no idea. If you really want to get a jolt as to the disparity between the haves and the have-nots, spend a little time behind the wheel of a ridesharing vehicle. At one end of the spectrum is the single mom who must use the service to get to work or the grocery due to her own vehicle being broken down or worse, or even the homeless that need transportation to the doctor.

Then on the other is the uber-pampered that will call for a car ten miles out to save themselves a three block walk to their swanky hotel. And in between are those looking for love in all the wrong places, desperately trying to fill a hole in their souls with something that just has to be in that bar over there, because it’s sure not to be found in this one here.

Yeah, it’s humbling; “the greatest in the kingdom shall be the servant of all” doesn’t have the same ring to it when you have an obnoxious passenger on board who is showing every sign of cashing in their round trip meal ticket. Ye olde technicolor yawn. Fresh Carnival Salsa. But then something real happens, and a mission develops.

I picked up a young man late last night. He had just finished his shift at a grocery, and was on his way home to care for his MS stricken mother and his two younger brothers. At twenty years old, he saw no light at the end of his tunnel, but I happened to have just a little for him. Was it enough? We may never know, but all you can give is what you have and leave it up to the Higher Power to fill in the blanks.

But in the wee hours of the morning when heading back to the mayhem of the Casa, I had time to pause and consider. Those living the lifetimes of the rich and famous appeared no happier than this young man, and I wouldn’t exchange my own situation with any of them, rich or poor. Pride goeth before a fall, but the low can always rise; I seem to find myself continously bouncing between the two…

“I don’t care how much money you make, if your last shirt has pockets take all you can take;
I’m going out with nothing, just like I came in” -Cody Jinks “Somewhere in the Middle”

See you on the road.

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