Old School things

Item 1 of 5 Volgende

November 17, 2021

I saw this - obviously Old School - photo pop up on Facebook and was thrown back in time by memories of an equally Old School event.

Somewhere in early ’82, on a Monday morning, riding from Gouda on the motorcycle to the General Spoorkazerne in Ermelo. Driving in the left lane of the A28, passing cars at a speed of about 130 kilometers per hour. The highway was beautifully dry, snow was piled high on the sides. It was the middle of winter and freezing cold, the temperature must have been about 2 degrees.

I heard the sweet roar of my machine and then… suddenly nothing. Complete silence. The cars were going faster and faster and I was going slower and slower. Quickly I turned my bike to the right side onto the emergency lane. Dead. Lady, my own faithful Honda CB400F, my first machine was dead. Didn't do anything anymore. Then I pushed her to the parking lot somewhere between Zeist and Amersfoort.

It was one of those parking lots without a gas station, where you can't get a cup of coffee to warm you up and to get your hands warm. I started my investigation on the bike and pretty soon found that my contact points were broken. My bike had a set of two and  both were lying loose  down below in the cover.

So I went to look for the yellow talking post, being 1982. That means no cell phone and of course there was no phone booth at the fucking parking lot. Anyway, another considerable distance to walk and back.The ANWB Wegenwacht was on its way. Once he arrived, the roadside assistance man started to whine that I was not a member. I started to discuss with the guy, what that meant and that I thought it was nonsense. I was pretty much freezing and had to get back on the road, that was the most important thing to me. Long story short, he stood his ground and I had to a) join immediately or b) sort it out myself.

I was in no mood for further discussion, my body temperature had dropped to an emotional low of 30 degrees Celsius and my mood had reached the boiling point of water. I signed the membership form and the direct debit authorization, so at least he could get on with his work and help me on my way. I told him that I had found the problem myself and that he would have to put two new ones in. His response, "Well, I don't have them with me. I have the car full of stuff for cars. This is something specific for motorcycles, the ones for cars don't fit."

"So now what?" I asked. "I can drive to Zeist later on, to a motorcycle store to see if they have these type of contact points there," was his answer. "But the stores don't open until 9 o'clock," he added. It was goddamn 8 o’clock at that time I think. Normally I had to be at roll call in front of our barracks at that time. Now I was standing somewhere in the fucking cold getting frozen fists and had to wait at least another hour and a half for the guy to buy my new contact points in Zeist and return here to Siberia-on-the-A28.

When my toes had just about reached the amputation-worthy stage and my fingers were not much further away from that stage, the roadside assistance man arrived. "Those things are expensive," he said and asked me to pay 25 guilders, seeing as he had advanced the money. Now you must know that in those days contact points for cars cost about 6 guilders, I think. Expensive was the understatement of the day as far as I was concerned.

"But I just joined, right?" I asked the guy. "Yes, you did, but that's only for my services, for material you have to bear the costs yourself", was his answer. In itself logical, of course, but 25 euros for me at that time was dozens of beers less in the company bar. Anyway, the guy goes to work, unscrews the protective cap, opens the box with the contact points and looks very surprised for a moment before he says, "Huh? I've never fitted these before. Wouldn't know how to adjust them either."

I can tell you that the volcano as it is behaving right now on La Palma is an avalanche of snow and ice compared to my mood at the time. Mind on zero, eyes on infinity, blowing and rubbing your hands a lot to warm them up and saying, incredibly irritated, "Come here, I'll do it myself. Have you got any feelers with you?". After about ten minutes of cold fingers getting those bitches on and adjusted, starting Lady again. I put my helmet back on, put my gloves on and before I left I said to him, "So, did you look carefully how to do it? At least you have learned something today.”

That direct debit for that membership? Of course, I cancelled it.


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