Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Imaginary Pan




Labels for this post:
e.g. scooters, vacation, fall

I know- I did that one already- the bit with copying the little labels for this post label. And I used it as an excuse to start BS'ing about motorcycles, and ended up writing about a hapless road trip I took back in 1973. Well- it is Fall. I could use a vacation, and an oddly wistful sort of dream has taken hold of my imagination. I say "oddly wistful", because I've been dreaming about motorcycles, and "wistful" is generally better suited to dreams of lost loves, lost youth, and all things nostalgically lost in nostalgia.

Still, I keep dreaming about a Panhead. I want a 1952 Harley, and I want to build. (With the emphasis on build.) a '70's "Frisco style" chopper, along the lines of the Captain America bike that Peter Fonda rode in Easy Rider. I'd like to get an old FL, and disassemble the thing down to nuts and bolts, and resurrect it in the image of all those badass machines that the outlaw clubs rode when they terrorized hippies back in the day...

There's always a lot of free brain time at work, and The Project has become The New Favorite Toy for my brain. I muse on everything from the danger inherent in riding a chopped out bike with the old style foot clutch and suicide gearshift, to the ethical question raised by taking a vintage machine and customizing, rather than restoring it. I think on peanut tanks, sissy bars, how far to extend the wide glide... I can play with this stuff in my head for hours.

But that's all it is. Head play. It's a mental weed of sorts that feeds on traces of hope. The hope, in this case, would be finding my way to a financial situation that would allow me to indulge in the project. So I've been playing George to my own Lennie, and fertilizing this mental weed with bullshit. And it's a cover, too. As long as I'm filling my brain with this kind of stuff, I'm not letting my brain fill up with big picture stuff. And you know how it goes- the bigger the picture, the scarier the stuff. So I'm keeping stride with a day's work, and cursing this primitive goddamn pile of gears and iron for not starting after the zillionth kick, and then I remember to turn on the gas, and it fires right up, and everyone laughs, but right now I have to lock the upper field gate, change a couple of lights, and get the trash cans out in time for the first lunch...

I like doing this. Working the day shift is fun, and Stephen King Elementary is a particularly sweet routine. And I've been here for a couple of weeks already on what's looking like an open ended assignment. Short version- the regular day man had planned on retiring after this school year. Unfortunately, he had some heart trouble. He'll be OK, but it's doubtful if he'll be able to return to work. In the mean time, I'm filling in until further notice.

That's the hard part. Filling in. I've been filling in here and there for three years, now. I do a damn good job, too. Doesn't matter. Filling in is as far as I'm going to get in this outfit. I get all kinds of happy talk about what a good job I do, but they hired out the last two openings to guys cold off the street. Nice enough guys, but younger, and dumber to boot. And I've already followed up their work. They're doing an average job. Nothing special. So I know I could work this day position for months, have the plant buffed up like an antique car, and everybody happy with the service. But when the regular guy does retire, they'll tell me, "Thanks for all the hard work", and hire someone else for the job.

It's a U.T.O.L., a Universal Task Of Life. This one is called: Face it, dude, they're not hiring guys your age. They're hiring young men with families to raise, not old men trying for one last career before the boneyard. Hell, I'm older than the guy I'm filling in for. But I don't face it. I do the same thing I've done all along: bust my ass trying to do an exceptional job, and fail at suppressing the hope that I could still get a full-time gig out of this.

And- you know- it's not really about the Panhead. It's what full time work would mean- health insurance, life insurance, - shit we just can't get or afford. And less for me than for my wife. If she got... I'll just leave it there; I don't need to get all melodramatic. You know. So I think about building the chopper, and let the daydream grow like a weed on the false hope that I'm going to get anywhere on this job.

JWM

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