There is a guy at work that rides an old Indian 841. Olive drab, from military surplus that came out of a time wrap from 1940. The thing is cherry. It’s a deadly serious bike. There is no way in hell I would ever have the brass to drive a slice of WWII history to work every day, let alone park it in the courthouse parking lot.

Then again, I’d never ride a motorcycle. I know I’ll get confused between the clutch & the break…again. I’m just not the motorcycle type.

I do, however, know more than a few bikes on sight. Not that I’m a motorcycle guy. I’m not even a car guy. The reason I know this is because my father’s older brother is a biker. He’s all leather & hair & insists that everyone call him Tarz. He’s not even “Uncle Tarz” he’s just “Tarz.”

He’s Tarz because he once tried to swing from a barn & the rope broke on him. He fell to the ground & broke his leg. Tarz is short for Tarzan. He’s had the nickname since he was in his early teens.

When I was a little kid, my friends were frightened of him. All hair & black leather. He looks scary, but he keeps Kosher. He has the same pathological hatred of finger foods that I do. He won’t eat things that get his fingers dirty. Fried chicken, buffalo wings, ribs…maybe not ribs…I won’t either. I hate food that gets my fingers dirty.

Tarz, his face is all scared up. Its one of the reasons he has a beard. His face is scared because he once plowed his bike into a cornfield rather than run over a squirrel…maybe a pheasant. That part of the story I’m not clear on.

The point is that people are scared of him. Some of my friends in high school worked at the same factory he did. They were frightened of him too. Denim, long hair, black leather, not tattoos (Jew), it’s enough to make people afraid of him. You know, despite the fact that he’d kill himself rather than a rodent…or a bird…I’m not clear on that part of the story.

In either fact, he’s a gentle giant.

I know a lot of over-the-hill bikers. I’m not a motorcycle guy, neither is my dad, but most of his friends are.

When I was a little kid, Doc used to baby-sit me. Doc is Doc not because of any degree. He’s Doc because he used to read Doc Savage paperbacks when dad knew him in high school. He’s just Doc. I don’t know his real name. He’s always just been “Doc.”

Doc is seven-feet-tall & nothing but muscle. He is a Nordic god with red hair and a matching red beard. People are afraid of him too. That one might be fair; he used to be an Outlaw. Maybe he still is. I don’t know. To me, he was a babysitter. He was around a lot when I was a kid. He sort of leached off of my father’s family until he settled down & started one of his own.

When you are a little kid & you see someone like Doc, you might be afraid of him. When you are a little kid & you are used to bikers, & you see someone like Doc you think “jungle gym.”

I used to climb all over him. It was like scaling a mountain. I’d cling to his beefy arm for dear life as he swung me around.

I remember the mean look my mom’s parents gave him when he came by to baby-sit & they went out for dinner. That mean look faded away when they came home & I was cuddled on his lap watching cartoons with him.

Doc was really good with children. At least, he was a favorite babysitter. He didn’t come over to watch me; he came over to play with me.

When I was around ten he got something that came in an enormous box. A lot of people would throw it away. Doc threw it into the back of his pick-up & drove it to my parents. He saw the box, the enormous cardboard box & thought “Time machine, space ship, race car.” He saw the box & understood that it was a kid’s dream toy.

I wasn’t there for the initial conversation but in my imagination he pulled into the driveway, when I was at school & dad was at work & told mom: “I got your kid a box.”

People were afraid of him, but he had the common sense to give a kid a giant box instead of throwing it away. He had the heart & enough of a childish imagination to understand how awesome of a toy that would be in the right hands.

This is despite the fact that Doc probably couldn’t play in the box for years. The dude is enormous.

I have a friend, Wad, he’s like a shorter blond Doc with more tattoos (if that is possible) & body piercings. People are afraid of him too. Even in this day-&-age people will keep their distance from him. His real name is Chris. He’s called Wad because he once stuffed his pants in high school to look better endowed. The poor bastard has yet to live it down, but whatever, he’s embraced the nickname.

He’s the first person I’d trust to watch my nephew. You leave your kid with people like Doc & Wad & you know that they are going to play with them, not just watch them. The kid, for the hours that you are gone, is going to be the center of their universe. For people like that, babysitting isn’t a chore; they want to do it, because they can play again.

People like that still have enough humanity left in them to answer “hell yeah” when your child asks them “do you want to play trucks?” They might pick up a little bad language by accident, but by the time you get home, the kid & the babysitter will be too exhausted to open their eyes.

They can play trucks again. They can’t do that in their real life & the idea of crawling across the floor with a toy dump truck is still something that appeals to them.

Doc & Tarz used to let my little sister braid their hair. They’d sit at the table, drink a beer, chat with mom & dad & let my little sister braid their hair. It was nothing to them. They were cool with it. Occasionally they would swing by a couple of days later & the braids would still be there.

Still, these people aren’t the type that you would call “professional.” You’d trust them to fix your car, or in Wad’s case, your computer, but maybe not your taxes.

Still, because of them, there is a thirty-something adult that won’t ride a bike, but can still tell you all about motorcycles. I can’t walk the walk in a biker bar, but I can talk the talk.

I designed a Kid’s Page on the website at work. There was some talk about it. Some of the links to the CDC & FEMA were too child orientated to be professional. The language was too kids orientated to be professional. The pictures were too kids orientated to be professional.

They looked at the page & decided they wanted the Kid’s Page to be made for adults.

These people I work with, I wouldn’t trust them with my two-year-old nephew. They are clean shaven, they are illegal drug free & sober & I wouldn’t trust them around a child. They are the type that would be working on their laptop or watching the news when my nephew drinks the bleach.

People like Doc & Wad, the kid would be too preoccupied. He would be having too much fun to drink the bleach.

These people I work with, they would look at an enormous cardboard box & think to recycle it. Why would a kid want a giant cardboard box?

These people I work with are so professional that they will look at a page designed for kids & think, it’s not adult enough to be professional.

I eventually won the fight for the Kid’s Page, with the preface that the other pages offer the same material in an adult orientated fashion…but now the kid’s links page include links to adult themed pages as well. You know, so there is still a little bit of adult professionalism in case the adults go to the Kid’s Page to find the information that the other pages already offer them.

Those are the people that I fear. Those are the people that get jobs like mine, in government. Those are the people that get the jobs in business. Those are the people that make the laws & set forth what is normal & acceptable & what is not.

It raises a few questions.

What kind of sickly warped mind looks at something made for children & thinks: “why isn’t it made for adults?” What type of sickly warped minds agree that a webpage made for children should be more professionally adult? What type of people need to be convinced that, showing an image of a burning house might be fine for grown ups, but maybe a cartooned version might be better for children? What type of person needs to be convinced that describing what radiation sickness does to the body might be a little too vivid for elementary school students?

What creates a personality that is so focused on being professional that it can no longer successfully relate to children?

Clearly not all professionals are like that. The kid’s pages on the CDC & FEMA websites were too childish & not professional enough for our Kid’s Page. The CDC & FEMA are serious organizations run by serious people. Yet they still understand that kids aren’t interested in professional. They have pages that show pictures of radiation burns, but are human enough to realize that isn’t appropriate for children.

Where does that shift in basic humanity become so business professional that any warmth is sucked away? Why is it that these people become so coldly professional that they can no longer communicate with people in any meaningful way?

Where is that line?

Where is that line that makes someone stop being human once they become a respectable professional?

Why is it that, when I see big, hairy men covered in tattoos, I think they are more human & respectable than the professionals in the office I work with?

Is it because I have a beard too? Is it because these were the people that played with me when I was little? Is it because these are the better class of people that my father hung out with?

That probably has a lot to do with it, I’ll admit it.

But it could also be because the next generation of them, people like Wad, they’ll take the time to play with my nephew when they visit. They’ll come over with a six pack, start talking to the adults & you turn around & the next thing you know, they’re laughing because the kid is climbing them like a jungle gym.

My nephew is yanking on the back of his black leather belt in an effort to make the summit of Mount Wad before sundown & the big, hairy, tattoo covered man thinks it’s just hysterical.

I can’t see a child climbing any of the buttoned down suits & ties I work with. If my nephew tried, he’d be in trouble. They’d give you that “get control of your child” look. That would be inappropriate. Getting down on your hands & knees & making ambulance noises as you push a plastic emergency vehicle across the floor, totally unprofessional.

There’s a difference in humanity there. My aunt posted a picture along those lines. “Why is it that the hairy tattooed biker is less judgmental than the person you meet in church?” She’s partial to bikers too; they were her older brother’s best friends. They were her older brother. Her children are both born again Christians…well, technically, they are Jewish converts. Her oldest is a biker; her youngest is a Methodist preacher in the Deep South.

They were raised in that atmosphere where mom & dad aren’t always around, they were at work, but when they were home, the professionalism of their jobs are left at the door. When their friends come over, they climbed Mount Doc.

I’m not saying that there is no place for professionalism. I’m saying that we’ve come to a point where, when the kids come over to the office party, your co-workers shouldn’t whisper about you behind your back when you play with them. You shouldn’t have to think twice about it. That should be something that your boss sees & respects, that shouldn’t be an action that makes them call you into the office & talk to you about “professional credibility.”

Professionalism means cold. It now means you are too cold & detached to play with the kids at the office party. They are children, you are an adult. Never the two shall meet. It’s an odd juxtapose. Because I played with children, the office thinks I “lack credibility.” Because I played with children, the people at the free clinic “borrow” me to go into the schools to teach hygiene & sex ed. & not to play with the bats.

I’m not professional enough. I can still relate to children enough to engage them. It’s something they are incapable of. Years of working in an adult professional environment makes them nervous when they are surrounded by kindergarteners.

What type of person gets nervous around a room full of kindergarteners? What type of person sees a child & thinks? “No information here?”

What makes some adults evolve to the point that they can no longer handle children? Conversely, what makes people like Doc & Wad child magnets? Why do kids look at me & think “friend” & look at Kathy & think “scary” even though we are both dressed like professionals?

Why is it that the people that are in charge are the people that can’t play with kids? Why can’t they relate? Why do they think it’s bad when you do? Why is that not professional?

Somewhere in that vast government office is a man with a wind blown & wrinkled suit & a vintage Indian 841. It makes me wonder, is he a stone cold professional with a deadly serious bike, or is he the type that drops the professional the moment he steps out of the office & mounts up? Does he also have a BMW R75 in his garage?


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