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The Man on the Motorcycle

A letter to The Man on the Motorcycle,

When you pulled up beside my car and asked me to roll down my window, I wonder what you thought about me.  I bet you don’t know the first thing about me. 

When you told me, “Next time, don’t pull out in front of a motorcycle,” I bet you didn’t realize that I have ridden motorcycles in the past, and I have incredibly dear family and friends who are die-hard riders.  I bet you didn’t know that I’ve been thrown off a motorcycle onto the gravel street, or that I’ve ridden on the back of a motorcycle hundreds of miles to Sturgis.  Somewhere I probably have a token picture to prove it.

I bet you didn’t know that I always look out for motorcyclists.

I bet you didn’t realize that my decision to pull out onto the road in front of you was about the nine hundred and fifth decision I’d made today.  I saw you, I calculated how far away you were, considered the slow speed limit on the side street, and I pulled out.  I saw you approach me from behind and try to pass me on the left, despite the fact that there was oncoming traffic on a very narrow side street.

Yes.  I saw you.

I bet you didn’t know that earlier in the day I’d had to make decisions on where to move students’ desks, which papers to grade before they entered, how to handle the students who have been sneaking in my classroom and stealing things, what to do about the student who will be out sick for three days missing new math material, if I should give a social studies test or review another day, and whether or not I had enough time to pee before school started, or if I’d have to wait an hour until my break. 

And that was all before 7:55 a.m.

I also had to decide what to do about the sweet girl whose friends are being mean, when I am going to be able to reteach long division to the three students who still don’t get it, how I’m going to make a research science unit happen in a classroom with only limited time and access to computers, as well as what to do about the boys that still can’t play four square nicely on the playground.

I made instant decisions all day long. 

Who should answer this question?  Should I call on the student who isn’t paying attention?  Would that embarrass him?  But if I call on the student whose hand is always up, then it looks like I’m playing favorites… 

Do I correct the student’s wrong answer, or give them time to self-correct?  Should I ask who knows the answer or have them partner share?  Did coming in “kind of” quiet earn the class a point or should I make them hold out for perfectly silent?  Who gets a dice roll to earn extra stars for showing exceptional work today?  Do I ask that one student to take off their non-uniform jacket for the fourth time today or just let it go? And what the heck do I do to get rid of nine-year-old boy-after-recess smell in the classroom?

All.  Day.  Long.

These were only a few of the decisions I made during my “nine to five”.  But don’t be fooled.  My decisions don’t stop when I leave my classroom each day.

I bet you didn’t know that when I pulled out in front of you, I had just dropped off my (practically adopted) daughter from taking her families’ treasured dog to the vet because he passed away that afternoon and her parents were out of state.  I bet you didn’t know I had spent the entire car ride with her to and from the vet questioning what to say to make her feel better.  Do I say something?  What do I say?  How could I make her feel better?  What if I say the wrong thing and she feels even worse? 

I bet you didn’t know that your comment through my partially rolled down window, albeit in a kind (but irritated) grandfatherly tone, made me question myself and cry on the way home.  Because, honestly, if I questioned and requestioned every decision I made during the day, I’d probably have never even made it to that stop sign.  And after nine hundred and five decisions, I was feeling pretty sure of myself as an adult tackling the world.  Until you questioned me.  It was the most “un-miraculum” moment this year to date. 

I bet you didn’t know that despite how defeated I felt, I put on a brave mask because I had to face my kids who I’d only spent about 40 minutes with total for the day. 

I was also still not done making decisions. 

What’s for dinner?  Should my daughter water her science project or wait another day?  Should I have made my (adopted) daughter and son come over for dinner so they wouldn’t have been alone after losing their pup?  Should I stay up until eleven and grade the papers that I know need to be done by eight a.m., or should I go to bed at nine like I want to because I’m exhausted?  When am I going to get my brakes done and my oil changed?  Can that wait until October 2023 when I actually have time?

So, do I feel bad about pulling out in front of you?  Was I not paying close enough attention?  Was it a bad decision?  Am I a terrible driver?  I suppose it doesn’t matter what I think.  We both went on our separate ways.  You, with a story to tell, and me with the doubt in my head. 

In being fair, maybe I don’t know anything about you either.  Maybe you’ve been in a bad accident before, and this is your message to the world.  Maybe you have a young granddaughter learning to drive and you saw her in me.  Maybe you’ve swerved to miss reckless drivers more times than I could keep track of.  Maybe choosing to talk to me was your nine hundred and fifth decision of the day, or maybe you were just having a bad day.

Maybe, in my exhaustion of making nine hundred and five decisions, I erred. I am only human, and I give myself permission to be less than perfect on a daily basis.

Maybe the world would be a better place if we all just understood each other better.

And maybe next time, I’ll wait an extra long time at the stop sign.  Just in case.

Signed,

Looking for the Miraculum

(But until then…)

Be grateful, water your own grass,

…and drink coffee.

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2 Comments

  1. Thank you 🙏🏼
    For always finding the “bright side” .. because this had me in tears and angry for you, and as usual YOU are the bigger, better person than most people would’ve been. Yes, we’re all 💯 % HUMAN!!!
    Love you & your blog 💜

    1. I love you so much for seeing me as me, and for loving me despite all my quirks and imperfections. And for being another decision fatigued mom who is just doing the best we can. 😘

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