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9.15.2014

Tales on the Motorcycle Courier Shift...continued.

The shenanigans on the night shift continue...









9.08.2014

Tales on the Motorcycle Courier Shift...for starters.

I haven't touched much on this topic, but I think this needs to be on this blog since it is about motorcycles and travelling. Sometimes travelling just means going around in circles, over and over again.

Since I was laid-off of my full-time job back in April of this year, I started doing courier work for Postmates, a startup based in San Francisco. I've been doing this since the first day of launch in May here in Los Angeles, and it's kept me busy when other gigs were far and in between. While most people do deliveries in a car, I took advantage of the carrying capacity of my touring bike to actually make decent money with this, even developing a system that makes it easy to respond to dispatches that come in on my phone.

I usually work the dinner shifts to try to avoid the traffic of the day, and some of the things I've encountered while taking this from Point A to Point B have been quite amusing. I've shared most of these things on Facebook with my friends, but I think some of these screen snippets definitely detail my level of amusement on being "paid to ride."

As I had mentioned in a previous post, Eleanor was gone for a month due to repairs and long-awaited maintenance. Once I deemed her road-worthy again for the daily grind of the night shift, the stories came back. When I have a chance to sift through some of the posts from earlier this year, they'll appear in a future blog post. But for now, enjoy.





9.04.2014

Showing the out-of-towners around.

I had an interesting situation a couple weeks ago, as by chance I ended up playing the role of last-minute tour guide to two visitors: a friend visiting from the Midwest on business and a soccer coach from England who was staying in the house for the week and had just been reassigned to the Pacific Northwest, leaving the following day.

This mini-adventure started with me picking up my first friend from a hotel adjacent to LAX, taking her the longer way on Pacific Coast Highway into Torrance and to one of my favorite places to eat, Kula Sushi. I haven't done a food review of this place (I'm too busy nomming the sushi to care), but I hope to get the chance to do that, just as I try to drag a friend to this place any opportunity I get. It was easy for her to scarf down on the sushi - living in a land-locked state like Missouri can make it difficult to acquire (and trust) the "fresh" fish that's served there. So I don't blame her for having her fill.

It wasn't the first time that I've played the role of tour guide; in fact I look forward to it every chance I get. However, it had been years since I had acted as one out here in Southern California. My time in Ohio relegated me to a passive (and occasionally torturous) role of online adviser and e-mail buddy to those visiting my home and looking for things to do. Now, one thing I do take pride in is my knowledge of the random facts and details about my part of town. Maybe I could make this a gig! You know, throw a tip jar in the back of the car, serve drinks, and a wear a boom mike to be all official like that.

After dinner, I picked up the soccer coach and started with a cruise in the car onto Palos Verdes Drive East, stopping at one of the vista points overlooking the Pacific Ocean. A few minutes of photo ops, and then it was a jaunt through San Pedro and across the Vincent Thomas Bridge. Lucky for us, the World's Largest Rubber Duck was docked in the Port of Los Angeles for the 2014 Tall Ships Festival so my guests had a chance to see it as well as I cruised along toward the 710 freeway.

I dropped my Missouri friend off at her hotel by LAX and headed (on request) with the soccer coach to Hollywood to see "what the place is all about." So about an hour later I was walking around the touristy portion of Hollywood Blvd. with a Brit on one side and a coffee in my hand (it was a long evening as I had substitute taught a filmmaking class earlier that day). We spent the next hour and a half admiring the cement prints left by stars of the past and present in the TCL Chinese Theater, walking into souvenir shops full of chotskies, and taking pictures for out-of-towners with their phones and cameras. Occasionally, I would simply look down and admire the ground. I was on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, after all.

Here was the reason for the request to go to Hollywood, a chance to pay tribute to the great Robin Williams.
After a little sightseeing, we stopped at the Hard Rock Cafe on Hollywood Blvd. for a couple drinks and conversation. It had been a while since I was able to sit down for a break and just be social again. No deadlines. No rush. Sometimes, all it takes is an opportunity to revisit a familiar place to bring a new magic to something that has been long-standing. As a Southern California native, I had often thought of Hollywood as "the place to avoid." It's probably the traffic and the annoyance of trying to drive a car through there. Anytime of the night on any part of the week, when I'm on my motorcycle courier shift, the area is filled with people looking up at the lights or looking down to try to find an actor, singer, or famous somebody immortalized on the ground below them.

People watching from the top of the bar...the ginger ales seem to taste better from up here.
On the way back home, a request for a small bite to eat meant a stop at Pink's Hot Dogs (I'd be a lame tour guide if I didn't do that). Somewhere in between bites of my chili dog, I was watching my visitor smiling and taking photos of the various autographs and details of the hole-in-the-wall store that's been a fixture here in LA for the last 75 years. Looks like my mission was a success.

What a night. I gotta meet more people from out-of-town and do this more often!

8.17.2014

Yep, I'm still out. And so is Eleanor. So who wants to teach me how to...dance?

What a summer...and it's not over yet.

After doing the same, planned cross-country ride to a specific destination every July since 2007 with Eleanor, circumstances kept me here in California through July to focus my attention on other things like my video and photography work and paying my bills. Both of these items are looking positive, and believe me, being able to pay the bills in this economy (with nothing but independent contractor work) is an accomplishment. As much as I wanted to get away, and as painful as it was to miss a yearly event that was very important to me, I know that my time will come again and things will be even better very soon.

Of course somewhere in between all this, a few extra bumps on the road come my way. My car decided to die on the CA-134 East freeway and is out of commission for a little while. That came exactly two weeks after I dropped Eleanor off for some long-awaited maintenance.

Long-awaited is right. Like I'm still waiting.

So here's the update on Eleanor as of this blog post. She's not done yet, and last Thursday (8/14) marks a month since I've dropped her off at the shop. Yes, that means I have not thrown my leg over a two-wheeled vehicle in a month in California, which in Christine speak is quite unusual.

I've spoken to the Service/General Manager and the Office Manager of the dealership, and they're in a major staffing shortage, quoted as being down to "2.5 techs" (two highly-certified techs and an MMI graduate) not to mention that the most senior tech assigned to my bike injured his knee the week I dropped her off, throwing everything else out of whack. The shop is doing what it can to get through the backlog of service and has turned away multiple customers until this is back under control. It's a crappy situation, but what has impressed me is that the shop owns this problem and is not beating around the bush or making excuses. It is what it is.

With that being said, I choose to make lemonade out of my lemons. I will continue to wait for Eleanor. Considering the circumstances, I probably should be quite pissed off. Not to say that I'm not annoyed to be missing the vehicle that contributes to half of my monthly income (and is my pride and joy), but as a person who has worked in the motorcycle industry in multiple dealerships, this is a situation I know all too well. Also, I'll still be riding in the dead of winter when everyone else has to put their motorcycles away, that one season that doesn't exist here.

So here's my point: If you're a motorcycle/watercraft tech or a salesperson who needs a job, Pacific Motorsports in Harbor City IS HIRING. Like now. Visit their website at http://www.pacificyamaha.com/ or call the store. Get hired, go wrench some bikes, kill the service backlog, and help me get Eleanor back on the road again. See where I went there? ;)

But yes, this kind of stuff rekindles my love-hate relationship with cars. Cars are useful, when one has to transport more than one extra passenger or hockey gear. I like cars, as long as other people's cars aren't blocking my way. Since my independent contractor jobs require travel, I'm usually sitting on [insert congested CA freeway here] in a borrowed, air-conditioned cage reaching for a nonexistent clutch while "Bailando" by Enrique Iglesias blares for the umpteenth time in an hour.

Sitting in a cage does give me too much time to think. I guess it's an advantage at this point in time since I'm so focused on the road when I'm on a motorcycle. I can dream a bit, wish a lot, and figure out what mental direction I'm headed in. I have to admit though, that song is pretty catchy, like I imagine myself being whisked across the floor to it. There we go. I should start a new hobby outside of motorcycles and hockey. How about dancing? That'll pass the time and get me outside of my work. Anyone interested in teaching me? Perhaps the footwork will help my goaltending game.

Steering wheel? What the hell is this? Where are my handlebars? I am so not in my element right now.