My first blog: by Shane Conley
It can be frustrating when working on a vehicle and find what you know to be are missing parts. A craftsman just can’t wrap his/her head around “why” the last person who put wrenches on it, chose to leave out a part. We are thinking, “don’t they understand the individual piece was designed for a specific benefit to the functionality, safety, and life expectancy of the mating parts”?
I blame the poor integrity I see in mechanics on a very simple belief. Their mother did not ride motorcycles. Let me explain it in a way that may make all mechanics imagine their loved one is on the seat of that machine they are wrenching on.
You see, my mother rode motorcycles. She gave me my love for them. We would wait all week to go for Sunday afternoon rides. Saturday was reserved for chores, to-do lists and also what became my lifelong love of turning wrenches.
The year was 1988. At the age of 14, mom bought me a 1978 Yamaha XS400 Special. She bought herself a 1982 Honda 500 Ascot.Saturday mornings became busy work days that we knew would be followed by “sunday funday”.
Mom made us to “inspect” the motorcycles while washing them. When detailing the bike, mom would point out what to look for. Loose bolts, tire tread, tire pressure, tight battery connections, working lights, and functioning brakes. This list seemed to grow over time. I started to realize that the new “required” items on Saturday morning bike washes were directly related to last Sundays ride. I also started to be able to “predict a future checklist item” was about to be added from reading mom’s body language during a ride.
Hand signals to pull over while cruising down the road meant something wasn’t right. Looking down at the side of the engine while driving was quickly modeled into “How not to ride a motorcycle 101”. The curriculum that day also included “How to hold a motorcycle upright while running off the road with your little brother on back”. As we pushed to bike out of the ditch, I will never forget these words of wisdom, “Don’t ever do that” mom said. Along with “It’s not funny boys!” My little brother seemed to find so much excitement in that off-road ride that his first motorcycle was a 1991 Kawasaki KX125. Makes sense from the million times he asked mom to “do it again”.
Then one day, mom came out to the garage with something that changed my life forever. A notepad and pen. She said, “write down all the things we need to check before riding and then tape it on the toolbox”. I didn’t need any future instruction as to why. The previous Sundays ride was a long ride with few miles. The noises coming from the engine on that ride were new to me. Coughing and spitting of the motorcycle had mom looking over at me smiling. She later told me she was thinking to herself, “oh good he will never forget to check the fuel tank again”. We pulled over and parked on the narrowest road shoulder I recall even to this day to receive my lesson. Mom and my brother headed off on her Honda Ascot to get fuel only to make it long enough for me to hear a familiar chug, bang, pop, revs up, throttle blipping and bluuuuuuuuuuuaaaa said her engine. Holy smokes, we both ran out of gas! Moms servant heart showed up that day for sure as she walked back to me in the wrong direction of fuel station, mind you, to retrieve me and hand deliver lesson number 2: Walks in the country with family are priceless.
So the vehicle inspection cycle would repeat itself over the next few years of riding seasons in Iowa. Mom was not a mechanic, nor did she ever have any formal training. She was a secretary by day and Super Woman by night. Working two jobs to raise two boys never stopped her from finding an opportunity to teach us “boy skills” whenever she could. How did she learn these skills herself? I wish I had asked her. I know this; she gifted me with checklists, integrity, and how to think. The next time you are working on a vehicle, stop picture this woman’s smile. She is the reason this website, YouTube channel and community are here.
Grateful to have her as a mother, In loving memory of Geraldine Conley, December 21, 1947-October 17th, 2015
Video Lesson: How not to leave pieces out from your work click here.
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