Calculated Risk

For a brief and wonderful few months in 2012 I had a scooter. It was given to me by a friend and I loved it!


My friend who gave me the scooter, and my son

I had great and glorious adventures learning how to “scoot commute.” I learned that you can ride in a mini-skirt though it is not actually desirable and may get you some interesting attention. I learned that few things made me smile more than hopping on my yellow and blue scooter to go wherever. I learned that if you ride in a windbreaker made for riding bicycles it will flap painfully on your arms and feel rather much like stinging nettles. I learned that few things are more fun than riding with a fellow scooter rider to a business meeting. I learned that if you pop the wheel over a high curb that is not actually a handicap ramp, you will lose control and crash into a brick wall.

I rode a scooter rider all through my year in Denmark where it is a common method of transportation for teens and adults. In DK I rode all year long, at night, alone, after a few beers, in the snow, in the rain, and with a bicyclist skitching along. I was, of course, 16 and in the countryside so there wasn’t a lot of real danger. My stupidity was probably the greatest danger!

Woman_on_VelosolexNot me but that style of moped


I also had a small motorcycle back in …well, I don’t know the year but the when was when I lived in the buff-colored building on the corner in the apartment on the ground floor with the copper-colored walls and black trim with my boyfriend. I bought the bike in Daytona, Fl when we lived in the house on the beach with his mother where the metal hinges and mechanisms had to be changed out every year due to sea corrosion. I think we might have had a VW van too; there was definitely another vehicle, though I am not sure which of my many vehicles it was. We caravaned the bike and the possibly-van up through central GA on a long road trip. When a bike is only a 250 (maybe it was a 150) long road trips are not that fun. Fun is breaking it into small bits and stopping for picnics. Staying overnight in some Victorian house in Eastman GA with uncomfortable people. Riding in Spring. That’s fun. Not fun is arriving in Atlanta in a torrential rain storm at night with your boyfriend an indistinct vulnerable blur on a tiny little machine on the freeway trying to get safely up to Sandy Springs. I was driving the possibly-van; I was not experienced enough to handle the bike in those conditions. No one should be handling small bikes in those conditions. But we were so close to home that we had to keep going. We were “smelling home” as my mom likes to say.

Honda CG 150 Titan5


This may have been the bike – it was small and it was red.

The bike sat more than it got ridden. It’s insane to have a small motorcycle in the middle of the city. But on the few occasions when I rode it, it was blissful. The best road trip I didn’t take  was a journey up to North Carolina for a medical EMT training test. It was Summer; it was glorious; it was curving mountain roads. I was in my car, or my mom’s car, or some vehicle that wasn’t my bike. My bike sat at home. I bowed to parental pressure and did not ride my bike. Even though I was well into my twenties. I still regret that non-ride and allowing other people’s fears to sway me.

The bike (and the boyfriend) receded into memory.

My uncle had a motorcycle and I rode with him a couple times. His was a massive machine that I couldn’t even contemplate driving.

When I was in high school, a bad boy-friend and I skipped school and rode up to Talullah Gorge on a motorcycle. We had to sit in a laundromat wrapped in gross towels given to us by the kind woman who took pity on two shivering under-clad idiots who got caught in a chilly rain storm while our clothes dried.

Women on motorcycles are hot. Everyone knows that. Men aren’t bad either. Boots, denim, leather. Not hot is covering up head to toe in protective gear and being safe. Then you kind of look (and feel) like Robo-cop or something.

The only piece of pornography I ever wrote involved a motorcycle.

I will never have a motorcycle.

But I may have a scooter again.

vp1725024_1 puma_cycles_la_vida_scooter_1

Calculated risk:

Pros: Hundreds if not thousands of people ride scooters around town In Atlanta. Scooters get excellent gas mileage. Insurance is surprisingly cheap. I know every back road in about half of the metro area and never need go on Ponce or DeKalb or other scary streets. It’s fun.

Cons: You are vulnerable. Very vulnerable. Other drivers are idiots. You are vulnerable. Sometimes you are an idiot. You are vulnerable.

There is an old adage about motorcycle riders: You have either had your wreck or you haven’t had it yet.

But the real calculated risk has to do with fear and how you live your life. There are a million ways to die, many of them gruesome and unexpected. There are things you can do to enhance your risk of dying: drugs, cliff diving, trying to pet lions, riding motorcycles… But we will all die in some way and at the end of the day, what have you not done out of fear? I don’t do drugs, cliff dive, try to pet lions, and I don’t ride a motorcycle. But I do want to ride a scooter around town. I know there are risks but there are risks to getting in the car every day. There are probably a million things I haven’t done out of fear – some of them prudent, some of them because I am a mother and my kids would like to have me around, some of them because I am simply afraid. But in this instance, I am calculating my risk vs fear ratio. And though I have a million reasons to justify getting a scooter (environment, cost of gas, cheap) the real reason is because I want one. And I’m not going to let fear stop me. 

So scoot commute 2014, here I come!


Human Resources

Being the boss means making the hard decisions. Everyone knows that. I suppose some people enjoy the human resource part and enjoy having the power to hire and fire at will and to make life hell. You hear a lot about bad bosses and G*d knows I have had some bad bosses! I  try very hard not to be a bad boss. I am generally accommodating, kind, supportive etc. I feel like I  lay out my expectations pretty well. I am, however,  not good at taking people to task  because I generally expect people to do what they need to do, be professional and act like grown ups. So it is always a bit of a shock when that is not the case and especially when I  have to let someone go. It gets me up at 4:30 in the morning running scenarios. T0day is one of those days. I am running scenarios, making plans, getting ducks in a row, figuring out what I need to do. And generally feeling bad about it. However, my spine is strengthened, I am pulling on all of my inner resources to ensure a good end.

My main flaw is waiting too long. Because  I am not a rigorous task master, I let things go when it comes to people’s lives. Justifying how they just need more time to grow, to get it together, they’re just going through a rough time. But there generally comes a time when the time has come! Today is the day! I am marshaling all my psychic resources to be strong. I have my internal dragon ready  behind me. I have my imaginary steel pole implanted in my spine. I am a still pool. My heart is soft and open yet resolved. At 1:30 I will march in and do the deed. Wield the axe. Swing the hatchet. Here we go!

I think I’ll just stick my head under the pillow and hope the problem goes away.

Can I do it by email?

Can someone else do it?

Does it have to be today?

Is it really that bad?


Back to the internet for reassurance on handling the process. All the professional articles are very reassuring. Lots of good resources. They take care of everything except for the act itself…

Back to the internal resources. Dragon, steel pole, still pool, soft and open yet resolved heart…

A pep talk:

Like pulling a bandaid, it’s better to just do it fast and clean.

I’ll feel better when it’s done.

With such a small staff, everyone has to pull their weight.

Worrying about it for so long is not good for me or my family.

Better a short, sharp shock…

Hyperbole makes everything better.

So in the journey of being a good boss and a good steward of the agency, I will do what needs to be done. And I’ll feel better when it’s done. Dragon, steel pole, still pool, soft, open yet resolved heart.

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