Tales from the Lift #2: Perspective

Tales from the Lift #2: Perspective
This is the second in a series of moto tales by one of the pillars of our local community-  Mr. Armen Amirian. Well known rider, wrench and raconteur who has previously been found in the pits as a factory wrench, contributing to moto publications worldwide, teaching moto- mechanics here in NYC (for 34 years! these days hosted by Ryders Alley ) and now enriching our site with his work at the keyboard capturing the passion for it all. His unique writing style embodies the mojo of living and breathing old bikes here in the city. Here's one just for today....  
So we are at the Motorcycle Museum at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama. By most counts, the best bike museum on earth. Five stories high, bikes from pre-WWI to modern racers. All sorts of amazing machines. This is the second location of the museum. The first was pretty amazing, and this one is off the charts.
Up a few floors is a display with two bikes, lots of pics, and some memorabilia. The bikes were ridden by Jim Rogers and Tabitha Estabrook around the world for two years. At the first museum they had an entire wall to themselves, now they have a more modest, but still significant display. In the bookstore are copies of Jim’s book detailing the trek. 
Standing there thinking about all the work I did on Jim’s R100RT-auxilliary fuel tanks, skid plate, different oil pan, auxilliary lights, and so on. Tab’s original bike was an R69S, basically an antique BMW. More of a romantic choice than a practical one for a trip of this magnitude. Partway through, she shipped the old bike back and bought a more modern R80, which is the bike on display. I never worked on that bike.
Next to me a person starts a conversation about the trip, the bikes, and Jim. He has obviously drunk the Jim Kool Aid, and believes the book. Tab had once described the book as an interesting story, but not the trip she went on. To say Jim is a bit of an egotistical narcissistic blowhard would be an understatement. I shake my head, tell the guy a bit about working on the bikes, and what a jerk Jim was. How he repeatedly tried to rip me off, was an abusive bozo, and how his cheating on Tab even after their wedding invites were printed up, finally made her give up and leave him.
I also thought about the time I spent on the bikes. After one of the many flog-a-thons on the R69S I nodded out (way long hours as their deadline approached) and crashed my car. Once they were on the road, there were times I’d get a panic call from Jim’s secretary “They are broken down in Southern TrashCanistan, can you try to get hold of them and help?” On the phone forever with an international operator, then run around and scare up parts to get to them somehow.
When he came back and wrote the book, he didn’t mention me at all. Later, when I was over at his place working on the bikes he offered to sell me a copy, and inscribed it with some generic few word nothing. I double-checked to see if he mentioned me and the work I did, then threw the book away.
Got myself pretty wound up at all this. It would have been nice to have 15 seconds of fame-be mentioned in a book being sold here at the best bike museum on earth. But, zippola.
I look over and my buddy Walter is standing by a Ducati. It is one of the ST (Sport Touring) bikes. He owned one once. This one is covered with road dirt, stickers, decals, and so on. The storyboard on the platform details all the long-mileage runs the bike has done (Frisco to Key West, etc) in ridiculously short times. But Walter is staring at the windshield. On it is “In Memory of Leah Oliver”. That would be Walter’s daughter. Killed in the towers on 9/11 on the eve of her 25th birthday.
Softly Walter says “I only met this guy once and talked to him for a short while. Told him I had an ST and we got to talking. I had no idea he put this on his bike or that the bike was here.” He shakes his head, takes a picture of the windshield with the words on it, and just stands there for a long time.
Oh, right, where was I-feeling sorry for myself that some loser didn’t mention me in his book. Never mind…
Life is all a sense of perspective. Sometimes I have to get hit in the head real hard to remind myself how that works.

4 Responses

  1. Maria Mogavero
    | Reply

    Thanks for a good reality check. I’ve been trying to pull myself out of a pity party that’s been going on for about two weeks now and I’m hoping the universe will keep smacking me in the face with such kickballs of wisdom until I can shake these doldrums.

  2. Walter
    | Reply

    Beautifully said, Armen. Glad to be your friend.

  3. Jennifer Ditacchio
    | Reply

    Hey Armen, on this anniversary its good to read your words. Thanks for sharing your moto/life experiences like this. We all need to be reminded of whats important sometimes.

  4. Ron Ginter
    | Reply

    i met Walter when he (and I) had the ST. We hit it off immediately. Met Gary Eagan when he came up my little corner of Canada to meet the Ducati Owners Club of Canada. Great guy. Great story! I really must get to Barber one of these days…

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