RoadRUNNER Zen Motorcyclist

Failure To Communicate

Feb 09, 2014 View Comments by

Failure To CommunicateA few years ago I sold my 2003 Honda Nighthawk 750 on eBay. I sold it to a man from Ohio who was to pay cash and was driving his van (cause for concern #1) to my home in Pennsylvania to pick it up on a ferociously hot summer day.

As our meeting time came and went I assumed he was stuck in traffic or had made a wrong turn but after 3 hours passed I started thinking he wasn’t going to show so I got busy spitting firewood and planning on re-listing the bike for the 3rd time (the first time it was purchased by someone in Norway but that’s an entirely different blog post). At some point I was startled by a loud crash and the sound of broken glass. It was my buyer. He had driven directly into my recycling bin at the end of my driveway sending bottles everywhere (cause for concern #2).

 When he got out of his van he was completely drenched in sweat. He looked like he’d just walked off the set of Cool Hand Luke. In fact he even resembled Strother Martin who famously played The Captain in the film and uttered the famous line in the title. He explained that his van had broken down three times on the highway and he now had no air conditioning. “Well let’s load her up” he said, producing a 2×4 to use as a ramp. “Think that’ll break?” I asked, concerned. “Oh it’ll hold I’ve done it before” he said. As he pushed the bike towards the “ramp” I stopped him. “Maybe we should measure the clearance? “, I asked. As I measured I noticed the mattress and bungee chords that were meant to secure the bike which was still full of oil, gas and brake fluid (cause for concern #3).

Just as I figured, the mirrors and bars would not have cleared the top of the van so we loosened everything and secured them in a lower position. At this point we still hadn’t “settled up”. Given the disheveled state of the buyer, a driveway covered in broken glass, a broken down van and a ramp of questionable integrity I suggested that we exchange cash and title before attempting to load the bike.

In the end all was well, or as well as could be expected at that point. I sent the man I now refer to jokingly as The Captain off towards Ohio with my beloved Nighthawk strapped to a mattress directly behind his driver’s seat. I hope the van made it back to Ohio but I sometimes picture that sweaty man finishing the trip home aboard a bright red Honda with lowered handlebars.  I always say great stories have interesting beginnings and I wonder if he retells the same story and loves that Nighthawk all the more for all it took to get it. It is one more motorcycle memory I sometimes stop and recall with a laugh, especially when I watch Cool Hand Luke.

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About the author

I have been motorcycle commuting since 1998. I created Zen Motorcyclist (formerly Commuting Motorcyclist) in 2011 and work as a motojournalist, software developer, CAD designer and IT/CAD manager in the Surveying and Civil Engineering field.