Howdy! Grab a chair an’ a beer! Do ya ever get sick of politics? Well, yeah… them too, but I was talkin’ about the politics in our everyday lives an’ how they affect the things we like to do. Take, for example, clubs. Not long after the idea of a factory-sponsored club turned into reality, I was talked into joinin’ one. I told the director that I’d give it a try, but if it ever stopped bein’ fun, I was outta there. Well, right away little groups started to form, with each group wantin’ to dictate to everybody else, arguin’ with the elected board, complainin’ about everythin’ an’ just generally makin’ trouble. The “newbies” who got the free year membership were eager to take over, tellin’ everyone how much better they could do everythin’, an’ then in a year they were gone. It took me a couple of years, but I finally rode into the sunset shakin’ my head in bewilderment before I ended up slappin’ somebody upside the head. How a few malcontents could take an organization that was supposed to be fun an’ turn it into a colossal pain in the ass was beyond me. For over 20 years I rode where I wanted, with whom I wanted, happy as a clam. Wait for it… wait for it… here it comes:
Last year, Reggie decided that she wanted us to join up because she likes the different rides an’ some of our friends are members. I agreed to rejoin, but I told her that I wasn’t gettin’ involved in the politics in any way, shape or form. The first meetin’ we went to, I found that in the more than 20 years I was gone, nothin’ had changed but the faces. Not the politics, an’ certainly not the inflated egos. There are still people who want to be big ducks in a small puddle an’ are willin’ to connive, lie an’ turn friends against friends to clamber or buy their way to the top. I keep askin’ myself, “The top of WHAT?” It’s a social club, fer cryin’ out loud! It’s supposed to be FUN! Ya ride, ya eat, ya drink, ya laugh… What’s so hard about that? Yet the officers are havin’ nervous breakdowns, people are either leavin’ or gettin’ kicked out an’ nobody’s happy. If it isn’t fun, why stick around? It’s not like you’re gettin’ paid to do it!
I’ve found the same political an’ ego problems to be true with events; especially charity events. We had a charity ride here in the Central Valley of California that grew from a coupla dozen riders to numbers in the thousands over a 10-year period. The ride was through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, an’ for those who have never had the chance to ride there, it’s one of the most beautiful places anywhere. It’s biker heaven. There were great bands, a good dinner served cafeteria style, stunt riders, vendors an’ lots of other attractions. The police an’ sheriffs in three cities an’ two counties blocked traffic to keep the riders together, an’ it was well on the way to bein’ “The Love Ride North.” Unfortunately, it grew too big for the dealer to organize an’ handle the logistics, so it was turned over to organizers within the charity. Now these are nice folks who tried to do what they thought was right, an’ if the event had been a wine tastin’ or a black-tie fundraisin’ dinner, they would have been right at home. Unfortunately, they knew nothin’ at all about bikes or bikers, an’ within a coupla years the event was cancelled. There were politics involved in that, too. Suggestions an’ help from the motorcycle community were refused or ignored, an’ the charity lost a very valuable source of revenue.
Why am I goin’ on an’ on about this? Because Reggie an’ I just got home from a little charity bike an’ hot rod show that was a big charity bike an’ hot rod show last year. This wasn’t from politics; just lack of knowledge about their target audience. Last year the show covered most of the fairgrounds an’ there were several hundred bikes an’ hot rods participatin’. The reason was a local women’s motorcycle club, Trueheart WMC, who did a fantastic job of organizin’ an’ promotin’ the show, an’ the number of attendees reflected that devotion to the charity an’ the hard work they put into makin’ it a success. This year, it was taken over by a large, busy entity, an’ they failed to take it seriously. The show was lightly promoted, there were only a few dozen participants an’ it was held in a parkin’ lot. Who suffers? The charity.
Bikers have proven that they’re first in line to help when there’s a need, but we also expect the promoters to make an effort to show a little appreciation an’ give us somethin’ for our money, not just “thanks an’ goodbye.” If you’re havin’ a charity event, get out of the office an’ go get some raffle prizes, provide some shade an’ seatin’, an’ start an’ end the affair at a reasonable hour. Advertise the event where we’ll see it. If you want us to take your charity seriously, you need to take it seriously as well. If you do that, we’ll be there… First in line.