Gas pump

The kindness of strangers

It was 8.58, and still raining, when I was ready to mount up after meeting a student at the Northgate Panera Bread. Too late to return the RedBox DVD in the Givi tailpack without penalty. “Oh well, I won’t tell Mike,” I thought, because he hates it when a free rental winds up costing a dollar.

I backed the Transalp out of the parking slot, mounted up and pressed the starter, my mind more on the RedBox return than starting up. Sputter, sputter. Sigh. It’s been so long since this happened; must be the rain. Flip the engine cut-off switch off and back on. Sputter, sputter. Press the starter again. Rumble rumble!

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Mike and Kathy

The Ride: a Valentine for Mike

If I told you that 2001 was the year that everything changed, I bet you’d nod your head, your memory crowded with images tinged with darkness and destruction.

But I’m not thinking of September. For me, the change began on a false spring day in mid-February, blue skies, high-50s. The kind of day where Mt. Rainier dominates the southeastern skyline, its glistening glaciers a sharp counterpoint to the heavens. The kind of day where your heart leaps with a sense of joy and anticipation: spring is almost here!

That day, I had an appointment on Microsoft’s main campus, only a few miles from my townhouse. I needed to channel my inner computer novice to help design a smartphone. My reward for donating two hours of my time to the cause of better software would be a gift certificate at the Microsoft company store.

But I wasn’t thinking much about my task or my reward. The appointment was an excuse to fire up the Ducati since winter, evidenced by the prior week’s snowfall, had seriously cut into my helmet time. I was jonesing for a ride and reveled in the distinctive Ducati rumble while warming up the bike. What a beautiful day!

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