Butter Rum Cartoon

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Monday, July 30, 2012


In the late 1970's I was a bank teller at SeaFirst Bank in Bellingham, Washington, a job I managed to get through my brother-in-law who was a SeaFirst loan officer, and with the help of the equal opportunity deal, because male bank tellers were a minority. I lived several blocks up the street, and commuted to work by bicycle. A white shirt and tie were required for the job, and so while riding my bicycle I looked like a lone Mormon.

There are two incidents I remember during my commute. I've never liked the law that says bicycle riders must ride on the right side of the street, because I'd prefer to see the car that's about to hit me, to try to avoid it, rather than be hit from behind and, if I survive, wake up in the hospital. If I rode in the middle of the lane, I would slow down traffic and piss off drivers, and if I rode as far to the right as possible, cars would pass too close for comfort, and anyone swinging open the door of a parked car might wipe me out. To be as safe as possible, I rode on the sidewalk.

One day I was riding home on the left sidewalk, and since there were no people walking there, I was whizzing along at a good rate. As I was about to dart out and cross a crosswalk, a car came from the side street and stopped on the crosswalk, right in front of me. I was going too fast to swerve around it, and too fast to brake to a stop in time, so I dumped the bike. I let it land on its side, while I landed on my feet and tried to remain vertical, and I did!  Miraculously I stepped into the middle of the bike's frame and danced over it without tripping, and both the bike and I came to a stop just a couple feet before hitting the car. It was so impressive that a couple who witnessed it from across the street cheered and applauded. My bike wasn't damaged, and neither was my ego.

The other incident took place during the week that the Bandidos were in Bellingham for a convention. The Bandidos is a motorcycle club that was founded in Texas in 1966 -- rivals of the Hell's Angels. Their motto is: "We are the people our parents warned us about"; and the FBI has named the Bandidos an "outlaw motorcycle gang." Their convention was being held at a local park, and there indeed was some violence that week.

Well, in my white shirt and tie, I got on my bike and began pedaling away from the bank one day that week, and happened to come to a stop sign at the same time a Bandido did. He straddled his chopper, decked out with insignias, and covered with hair and tattoos.  I usually ran stop signs if I could get away with it, and by some twist of fate, I happened to ride even with this guy for two blocks. While he tried to look as cool and as tough as possible, alongside him pedaled some nerdy Mormon-looking fellow. Not only was I horribly self-conscious, but expected to have a chain whip around my neck at any moment. But the Bandido kept his cool and stared straight ahead, ignoring me completely.

Nevertheless, ever since then I can truthfully say, I rode with the Bandidos.

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