Posts Tagged Moses

How to lick H1N1

I can quip about it now.  But when it was happening a smile and a blog post was the last thing on my mind.

It was Friday morning and the night before I had eaten an overstuffed, fatty carnitas burrito (for those east of the Mississippi and north of Maryland, that’s pork) late at night and fell asleep at my computer.  I know.  It’s a very healthy approach to heart disease — which is just shy of smoking a couple of Marlboro reds while eating pork rinds in bed.  So the grumbling and fever I woke up with were easily attributed to that burrito.

Off to work I go. First meeting: CEO, CFO and my boss are in there along with a consultant that I hired.  That’s a big ticket meeting to be in when you’re starting to feel the symptoms of H1N1.  (For more info: check out the CDC site.)

Fast forward to the part where I’m in the doctor’s office after a two hour drive:  The receptionist and nurses are insanely friendly, smiling and seemingly glad to take my co-pay and give them something better to do than complain about the shitty grub they got from Taco Bell.  Everybody, show some spirit, here comes a sick guy!

Sprawled out on the examination table trying to get comfortable, all I could think of was having those stirrups might actually relieve the pressure in my back caused by my legs hanging off the edge.  But that would risk the wrong examination.  Me likey the sore back!

15 minutes into the examination my doctor confirms it’s 99.8% likely it’s H1N1.  But he’ll swab my nose and send the tests to the lab.  Those tests look real easy on the TV news.  But imagine taking a very thin pen and pushing it through your nose up into your sinuses then making a figure 8 with it. Twice.  The deepest nose pick outside of an Our Gang episode.

He leaves the room.  Comes back.  Says he’s going to write me a prescription for Tamiflu.   He says, “you’re all set, come on out.”  Two beats.  Then “on second thought, just hang in there for a minute.”  That seals it.  No lab tests needed.  They all know it’s 100% that I have H1N1.

As I leave the office it’s like I’ve become Moses.  People are parting in front of me like had a loaded shotgun and a frothing Pit Bull sitting on my shoulder.  It’s both weird and kind of nice not to have to go through all the fake good byes.  So I grabbed the prescription, pushed the door into the lobby open with my elbow (ensuring they all saw that) then stroll to the main exit/entrance, lick the door knob and leave.

Take that you over friendly co-pay takers.

– Jose Mallabo

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Ball bearing in the wind

450 + 150 + 40 = 640

640 lbs.

That’s the combined weight of a Kawasaki Ninja 650R with me and 3 days of gear strapped to the top of it. You can imagine just how strong the crosswinds were to be blowing that kind of weight left and right across an 8-foot wide lane like it were a ball bearing in a Pachinko machine.

During the last 19 miles of what was otherwise a spectacular 675 mile ride up and down the California coast through Mendocino, the great redwoods, the land of Big Foot and up to Eureka, I all of a sudden was in a blender of 50 mph wind. A blender that Moses himself may have plugged in.

Humboldt County gas pump doesn't want you "smoking" near it.

Humboldt County gas pump doesn't want you "smoking" near it.

My speedometer said 55 mph. I could hear the motor running and exhaust blaring. And I clearly was pointed west, but I felt like my tires were stapled to the asphalt while taking vicious southbound left hooks of wind to the right side of my head and rib cage.

During normal conditions, you ride vertically to go straight. Leaning left to turn left and right to turn right. But on a stretch of road no more than 20 minutes from home I was leaning hard right to go straight while dancing precariously on the left yellow line of the road. If you’ve ever looked at the shrapnel of debris just left of that line, you know it’s not a good place to be driving anything short of an Abrams tank or a water buffalo.

As I looked down at that yellow paint directly under my left foot there were no words, but only that “oh fuck” feeling that under these circumstances aren’t words but is in fact a state of being. Like happiness. Or anger.

At rest in Mendocino

At rest in Mendocino

About 2-3 minutes into this ridiculousness, the thought of pulling over crossed my mind. I quickly dismissed that option because waiting on the side of the road for the wind to die down would guarantee on thing and only one thing for when I decided to restart my motor: darkness.

Head down. Maintain white knuckle grip. Lean hard right and keep front tire pointed west.

The problem was there were 15 more miles of this hell to deal with. I tried to psyche myself up for the challenge like I was a character in a Steinbeck man vs. nature novel.

“King Kong ain’t got nothin’ on me!” I shouted in my already very noisy helmet.

“King Kong ain’t got nothin’ on me!”

Looking back now, it sounded very little like Denzel and a lot more like “Gingko’s main God almonds on knee!”  Whatever. It got me through the first few miles of this last leg of my trip.

But like any motivational speech, I got bored with it quickly and had to find something else. For some reason Lieutenant Dan jumped into my head. I couldn’t get the image of him shouting at the heavens on Forrest’s boat out of my mind. As I continued to take shots to the head and chest from the wind I thought “why the hell am I challenging God to knock me off my bike?!”

Stupid is as stupid does.

It took me about 30 minutes to ride through those 19 miles. I got home and immediately felt good about myself. Not just because I got through that windstorm. But I completed my first real motorcycle adventure. 675 miles. I survived retirees driving RV’s that were pulling SUV’s up narrow, winding roads. I survived a plate of bad tuna on the first night of my trip. I survived stoned neo-hippies walking aimlessly across my path. I survived soccer mom’s driving while text messaging.

A million dollar view worth the ride, Advil and Pepto Bismol

A million dollar view worth the ride, Advil and Pepto Bismol

15 minutes after pulling my bike gear off while folding laundry, I actually thought maybe King Kong had nothing on me…

That giant sucking sound isn’t the wind. It’s the air of my ego leaking out of the ball-bearing sized hole in it. While I may have cheated a severe limp and some road rash, I couldn’t escape the one universal truth in life: No one — not King Kong, not Lieutenant Dan — has the constitution to lie in wet sheets.

– Jose Mallabo

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