While in college
I played drums in a blues/rock band known for its ability to
transform a song into something completely different, yet still
hold to its basic nature. We had a highly-promoted gig in the
biggest building in town - the Armory, which is basically an
extremely large, empty military building. After setting up and
running a sound check, we pulled out some of the folding chairs
stacked in the corner and sat down to watch everyone trickle
Just before starting, a gang of bikers arrived. And they were
your typical bikers: hurly-burly guys wearing black Harley-Davidson
shirts, jeans, leather jackets. They had long, scraggly hair,
beards, tattoos covering their arms, heavy black boots that
you could drive a car over. To say that they looked entirely
out of place for this small Central Missouri college town would
be a gross understatement.
No one knew if they were here for the band or if they were here
to kick everyone's ass.
I sensed several of them walk behind me. I saw people to my
right suddenly get up. I was quickly surrounded.
As I pondered what to do, I felt someone grab my chair, lift
it up into the air, and unceremoniously dump me onto the ground.
He said, "Pardon me, is this seat taken?" They laughed and shouted,
then completely ignored me as I sat at their feet rubbing my
bruised ego. I said something to them through their laughter
but I said it so quietly I'm sure they didn't hear me. I don't
even remember what I said.
We started playing and soon I'd forgotten about what happened.
There were many more people there than expected. We were playing
better than ever. The crowd was into us. Babes danced. Lighters
were lit. Even some of the bikers were right in front, spilling
beer, shouting, screaming, repeatedly making Lynyrd Skynyrd
We finished our first set and just as I climbed off my drums
I found myself surrounded yet again by the bikers. And the one
who took my chair was leading the way.
What did I do? I'd forgotten what I said to them but maybe it
totally pissed them off. I can't get my ass kicked, I thought,
I have another set to play and there are several babes giving
me the 'zoink me after the show' look. How can I get out of
this? What could I possibly say that would allow me to live?
The behemoth who dumped me from my chair grabbed me by the shoulders
and held me in the air above him. Crazy, non-sensical thoughts
ran through my mind - I just made myself an excellent crock
pot stew, I have a test this Tuesday, I hope it's not raining
when I'm done, did I send in my phone bill payment?
Even if someone wanted to help, there was no way they could
fight through this wall of big hair and belt buckles. I was
a mouse about to be crushed in the hands of a heartless beast
of a man. All I could see was leather and all I could feel were
my arms and shoulders being squeezed into my body.
Everyone was watching - kind of like how people are drawn to
those Discovery specials where lions kill the beautiful gazelles.
Loud enough for the entire hushed cavernous building to hear,
oblivious to all who were watching, he proclaimed, "OH MAN,
YOU ARE AWESOME ON THE SKINS! WOW! YOU KICK ASS!"
I looked around and I could see the entire biker gang smiling
at me. He continued, "Oh man, I'm sorry for taking your seat.
I'll make it up to you... Let me buy you a beer. Gaw-DAM! you
kick ass. I have always wanted to play drums. I know, I'll buy
the whole band a beer. Oh, MAN, can you teach me?"
I was still being held up in the air.
Ever have one of those moments where you almost crash into a
car or when something ALMOST happens causing you possible death
or at least definite injury? I have, and it feels like I swallowed
rocks and butterflies. My heart beats rapidly and it takes me
a moment to realize I'm still alive and that I can resume breathing.
This was one of those moments.
This guy taught me something: People are not always what they
seem. In fact, this behemoth was ENTIRELY different. When I
told him that I'd rather have a Coke, he said, "Oh man, that's
cool. You don't drink?" I shook my head. "Me neither. I just
like to ride my bike. Besides, my old lady would - Kick. My.
Ass. (Each word was its own sentence) if I came home with alcohol
on my breath."
I hope everyone reading this has learned a lesson about pre-judging
people. For those of you unable to keep up, I'll explain…
Throughout your life, you will have opportunities to cast judgment
upon people, very similar to what I experienced. Many times
your initial impressions and your stereotypes might just be
And so, if a biker gang ambles around to where you're sitting
and it looks as though they might enjoy having your seat…
Get the hell up! What, are you stupid? They'll kill you!
::clasping hands, nodding in priestly manner, eyes closed with
a gentle smile::
© 2002 Rob