Like Riding A Bike, You Never Forget… Your Kid

, , , , | Friendly | May 22, 2020

This happened when I was about thirteen, long before mobile phones were around. 

My parents were members of a motorcycle club affiliated with the military base where my dad worked. The base encouraged active-duty personnel to join the club in order to help reduce the number of injuries and deaths which tend to happen frequently when young service members get their hands on a motorcycle.

One of the ways the club did this was by organizing fun events, such as poker runs or weekend camping in the Sierra Nevada mountains, about two hours’ drive east of the base. 

The club had spent the holiday weekend at a National Park high in the Sierras, and the twenty or so motorcycles and two cars were heading back to the base. Once we finally hit a freeway, the club stopped at a highway rest area for a bathroom break and to stretch our legs a bit. I’d been riding as a passenger behind my dad, the club president, all the way down the mountains. When we stopped, I wandered around a bit until the line in the men’s room went away and then used the restroom myself.

I finished up, washed my hands, and walked back out to the parking area to find that the club had left without me.

I was ever-so-slightly freaked out — not quite in tears, but completely panic-stricken. A man and woman who rode bikes — but were not in any way affiliated with the club — saw me freaking out and managed to get a coherent explanation from me. I asked if they had a CB radio, because several club members had radios on their bikes and so did both chase cars. They did not have a CB, and there weren’t any eighteen-wheelers at the rest area at the time.

I was just about ready to try calling the police, but the two bikers said we’d probably be able to catch the club before they got too far ahead. I knew which way the club would be going — we’d used the same route every time we went camping — and most of the club members were wearing identical windbreakers with a distinctive color, which I was also wearing.

I still had my helmet, so I rode behind the woman while the man tore off down the freeway at a significant fraction of light speed. The woman followed at a much slower speed. We ended up riding for about thirty miles when I saw my dad on his bike and the male biker who was helping me running flat-out on the other side of the freeway, heading back toward the rest area.

I pointed them out to the woman rider, and she pulled off onto the shoulder to wait for them. My dad and the woman’s partner arrived a couple of minutes later. I thanked both of them profusely, and so did my dad, and we waved goodbye as they left. Dad drove us back to the base to catch up to the rest of the club, where I found out why I’d been left behind.

When I didn’t show up at my dad’s bike, he assumed I’d chosen to ride in one of the chase cars for the rest of the trip. Since I’d been riding with my dad before the rest area stop, the people in the chase cars assumed I was still doing that. It wasn’t until the other biker caught up to the club and flagged them down that anyone realized I was missing.

Because I was a fairly typical teenage male and more than a little freaked out at being abandoned, I’m now ashamed to say I never got the names of the two bikers who’d helped me. They’d gone considerably out of their way to help a freaked-out thirteen-year-old stranger. I can only hope they earned plenty of good karma for their trouble.

My parents were never allowed to live down the fact that they’d abandoned their oldest child at a California rest area, and the club imposed a new rule requiring the Road Captain — the rider in charge of the group when we were on the road, selecting the routes and deciding when and where to stop for gas or food, etc. — to double-verify everyone was accounted for before the club got on the road.


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To Them, Anything North Of Jacksonville Is Arctic

, , , , , | Right | May 19, 2020

I work at the entrance gate of a beach in New York where you can actually see Canada across the river. It’s mid-July and it’s about 90 degrees out. A car pulls up with Florida plates and two elderly women inside.

Passenger: “Excuse me, miss? What are those funny-looking birds?”

Me: *Looking around* “Which birds, ma’am?”

Passenger: “The funny-looking birds! The ones over there!”

Me: “I… I’m not sure what you mean, ma’am.”

Passenger: *Getting frustrated* “The funny-looking birds with the brown spots! Are those arctic puffins?”

I finally realize which “funny-looking birds” she’s talking about and try not to laugh.

Me: “Ma’am? Um. Those are seagulls.”

I have never had a car drive away so quickly!

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This Owner Is Barking (Mad)

, , , , , , | Friendly | May 17, 2020

I’m walking my large dog who is generally quiet and a bit shy by nature. We’re approaching a woman who’s walking an itsy-bitsy toy-breed dog a little way down the path.

Me: “Hello! Nice day for a walk!” 

My dog wags his tail gently in a polite silent greeting, while the teeny dog instantly goes into full demon mode, snarling, jumping, pulling on the leash like mad, and barking as loud as his tiny lungs can muster. He barks in a funny succession of four loud, quick barks at a time.

Dog: “Yap yap yap YAP! Yap yap yap YAP!”

The woman yells quickly and sharply at her dog.

Woman: “You must be quiet! Why do you do this?! You are too loud! Stop that right now! You’re a bad dog! Calm down right now!”

Then, she turns to me.

Woman: “I’m so sorry. I just don’t know why he does this!”

I just shrugged and my dog and I went on our way. I wonder if that woman will ever realize that her dog is just doing exactly what she did?

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Unfiltered Story #193997

, , | Unfiltered | May 14, 2020

(I can’t drive and ride the bus, and it is about a mile walk between the nearest stop and home. When it is very wet or hot, it is not uncommon for people to offer to stop and offer me a lift; I usually wave them on, assuring them I’m fine. Less often, people ask me for directions.)

(Me walking down the road, pulling wheeled luggage and carrying shopping.)

(White car, going the same direction as me, stops.)

Driver: “Hey, do you need a ride?”

Me: “No, I’m fine. Home’s just around the corner.” (It’s not.)

Driver: “Okay.”

(Up ahead, I notice him making a U-turn. Not uncommon for cars on this street for a variety of reasons, including the lake it ends near.)

(Driver stops opposite me.)

Driver: “Could you do me a favor?”

Me (thinking directions, places to eat, etc): “What?”

Driver: “Will you give me a blow job?”

(Defcon 3, creeper!)

Me (narrowing my eyes and glaring): “You’re not funny.”

(He drives off. I hear his engine stop moving away and look back. He’s DOING ANOTHER U-TURN. He pulls up to an intersection I HAVE to pass to get home.)

(Defcon 1, Defcon 1!)

(I stop roughly five feet behind him, drop the bags, and pull out my phone. He takes off. Around the corner where I lied I was headed.)

(I book it straight down, take a right, and hit a point where I can continue down to a cross street, or take a very steep dirt path that will lead me to the end of the next, dead-end, street over. My gut goes bonkers, urging me to take the more difficult route. I do.)

(When I get to the top, and am shielded by the height and the trees, I hear a car coming. I look down, and it’s A WHITE CAR going by. I’m not sure if it’s the same one, or if he just happened to take that route, or whatever, but fuck.)

Failed The Perception Check On That Turtle’s Danger Level

, , , , , , | Friendly | May 13, 2020

A few years before I was born, my parents borrowed my dad’s parents’ cottage for a weekend — a cottage my dad, along with his parents and siblings, had built by hand. My mom hadn’t spent as much time in the area, but both of them are lifelong Canadians who grew up in Ontario.

They were driving along bend after bend of the single-lane road to the cottage, really a pair of dirt ruts with grass in between, crowded on either side by trees. They came around a curve and there was a car stopped, facing the other way.

There were occasional grassy pull-outs. If you met someone coming the other way, you would both stop, you’d have a brief negotiation as to who drove backward better and who had a shorter distance to go, and then one of you would back up to a pull-out and let the other guy by. And hey, this guy was already stopped! So, my parents got out to chat.

Then, they realized why the guy stopped: there was a turtle in the middle of the road! The guy was standing there watching it from a wary distance.

My mom got a stick and started trying to gently “hockey” the turtle off the road, into the forest on one side. After all, it was just some poor, helpless turtle. Right?

The guy blurted out in a thick German accent, “Careful! Ees un schnapping turtle!”

My mom was about to ask how he could tell when the turtle spun around to face her, lunged up at her face, and snapped — on thin air, thankfully. She dropped her stick and jumped back with a yell.

The schnapping turtle landed, turned back the way it was originally facing, and hurried into the forest, because f*** humans with our cars and sticks, apparently. Negotiations regarding backward driving were peacefully concluded and the cottage weekend otherwise unfolded as intended.

And that’s the tale of how some guy born and raised on the other side of an ocean beat some born-here Canucks at a Knowledge (Canada) check.

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