First day impressions

I woke with a lot of positive feelings this morning, even if I was dragged out tired. I went to bed at 11 but didn’t really sleep until nearly 2 or 3 in the morning. I’ve been working night shift for so long my body doesn’t know how to go to sleep at a reasonable hour anymore. Still, I did my best to force it. I laid in bed forcing my eyes closed even as my mind spun on too many thoughts to follow. Eventually something like sleep settled in.

I was up on time and got everything ready on time. In fact I was up a little too early. I could have slept for another half hour and still made it out of the house on time. Starting at 9 is going to take a little getting used to.

The drive to work was prophetic. I’d left my iPod in the car the night before and when I started it up I left our crescent to the buildup of Boston’s “Long Time”. I hit the first power chords just as I turned onto Bradbury drive. I had to remind myself that I was still in a playground zone and stomping on the gas would be a Bad Thing but by Hawking’s Chair I wanted to. I sang aloud to the music, even though the lyrics weren’t always quite relevant.

It’s been such a long time
I think I should be goin’, yeah
And time doesn’t wait for me, it keeps on rollin’
Sail on, on a distant highway
I’ve got to keep on chasin’ a dream
I’ve gotta be on my way
Wish there was something I could say.

It just felt good. Finally employed at a place that I knew I’d enjoy working, full time, daylight hours. It’s staggering how much you miss that regularity when you’ve not only lost it, but have begun to feel you might never, ever have it back.

It’s only been the first day and I barely know anything that’s going on but I enjoyed what I was doing, even the most repetitive and menial tasks felt… useful.

The workshop reminded me a lot of the back room of my mother’s shop. It had a lot of the nailed-together functionality with years of accumulated history evident in every corner. The company is owned and run by a husband and wife team. The kids come to the shop after school and their dogs hang around all day. They have a young pup, just 8 months old, who’s positively vibrating with energy and constantly bringing toys to our laps to try and get us to play. The older dog doesn’t play as often but the two of them play tug of war quite often.

It has a comfortable, homey feeling, something very few other jobs I’ve ever had could provide. It feels like it could be… comfortable.

Now I’m *really* scared

Well, I passed my motorcycle test tonight. Two days ago I would have said it was utterly hopeless as there where three exercises I simply Could Not Successfully Complete, but a one hour practice session yesterday turned that around completely.

I was having all sorts of trouble with any kind of tight turn, and this is a major problem as three of the eight testing exercises are specifically focused on tight turns. But for the life of me I couldn’t do them. The problem, it seemed, was with me trusting the bike to handle the angle without tipping under my weight.

Well that changed yesterday. Back on Wednesday they assigned me to a cruiser styled bike, which I turned out to love. Much more comfortable to ride and, at least initially, I felt much more in control. The previous two nights I had been on sport-style bikes and they played hell with my knees. I’ve never been flexible and age is just making that worse. So with the ease of the cruiser I was much happier. Except I couldn’t do the turns.

Well the fates seemed to have more of a clue than I did. I mean, I *knew* the sport bikes were supposed to be better at handling turns and whatnot, but I thought being more comfortable on the bike would overrule that. Not so.

When I arrived at practice I went for one of the cruisers. Not the usual one I used, but similar enough that I felt confident. Unfortunately it didn’t have the key in the usual place (all the other bikes I’d used had the key in the panel in front of me. This bike had it on the side) so I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to turn it on. Not wanting to bother the instructors I just went over to the other cruiser that I’d used before. For some bizarre reason, though, I just couldn’t get the damned thing into neutral. Finally I gave up. Another student came over to use it just as I was walking away and I told him I’d had trouble shifting it into neutral. He just looked at me, put it in neutral, and started it up. Smug bastard.

With my options limited I went back to the first bike I’d used, assured that I’d at least be familiar with it. It was a Suzuki sport bike. I started it up, got re-acquainted with the clutch’s friction point, and took off. Suddenly I could do turns and loops with incredible ease. I had no trouble whatsoever doing tight circles and ninety degree turns. It worked like a dream. After an hour my knees were screaming but I had confidence that I could at least do the course.

Today I almost blew the whole exam in the first few minutes. They weren’t ready to test us yet so the examiner told me to grab a bike and go practice for a while.

The rules for the test are: there are eight exercises and you get twelve tries. If you stall, hit a cone, or otherwise miss the intended points of the exercise you fail and get to re-try. You got a max of three tries for any one exercise, so if you failed one particular exercise four times you were done, period.

If *ever* you dropped the bike on it’s side, you were done.

Period.

While practicing for the exam I managed to: hit a cone, stall the bike… and then dropped it on it’s side. That would have ended my exam right there were I being tested. I was flustered as hell and it took me forever to get the damned thing started again. Then they called us together to start the testing.

Timing. It’s all about the timing. Make your mistakes when they don’t matter.

During the test I had two re-tries. On the emergency braking I missed the first attempt because I’d started braking too soon, and on the “starting on a hill” exercise I stalled my first attempt. But at least I passed, and with two extra attempts still available to me.

Yeah, I feel pretty good about that.

Now, of course, I have to get my *actual* license (right now I just have a piece of paper saying I passed the test) and then have to register and insure my bike.

And then, of course, the *real* terror starts: dealing with traffic. I’ve already had one experience as they took us out on a two hour ride on our last day of class, but I’m still rather nervous about it.

But then I wouldn’t be me otherwise, now would I?