Every now and then, I form a relationship with someone who looks to me for help, guidance, sharing experience, advice, and information. This is more than just asking questions and my answering them. These relationships are more like “mentorships.”
Three recent examples come to mind.
The 21-year-old novice biker I met in late April has become a riding buddy. I don’t have much of a chance to get out and ride as frequently as I would like to do that, but when I do, I try to arrange to go ride with him. I have often said that the best motorcycle training after taking a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course is to go on rides with experienced, safe riders. I consider myself in the latter category.
The younger guy appreciates my time, attention, and advice. And he acts on it. He also dresses the part more appropriately as well. Instead of buying some new electronic gizmo, he invested in a quality full-face helmet, a pair of sturdy Chippewa engineer boots, and is saving up to get some quality protective gear when the weather gets cooler. Good for him. His riding skills have significantly improved. I am visibly seeing that he is more relaxed, attentive to what matters while riding, and his confidence is building. He’s coming along very well. I’m proud of him.
In another recent circumstance, I received an email that said,
I’m a cop, and just got assigned to the motor unit after several attempts. I am now taking all of the training on operating a Harley. I get along well with the guys on the squad, but… I’m gay. I don’t know how to tell them. I’m afraid of their reaction. How do I deal with this? I have been reading your blog, and find what you have to say inspirational. Can we talk?
Talk we have, and we have shared a lot of email, too. He’s a very nice guy, and I can understand where he’s coming from; however, with him being half my age, it’s hard for me to remember what he is going through. Also, while I worked for homophobes when I was his age, I didn’t work in a hypermasculine environment. I am learning from him as he is learning from me. At least with me, he knows he’s safe and he can tell me what’s really on his mind. I am finding that my mentorship is more of a masculine gay role model. We rant and rave about gay stereotyping, which is still quite prevalent today. But we also figure out strategies to deal with it. This fine young officer will do quite well. He has a good head on his shoulders, and thinks before he acts. He also thinks before he opens his mouth — which is a rare thing these days, sometimes, with some people.
The third recent mentorship is with a woman who has found some time and energy to get involved in civic affairs. She wants to learn how to deal with the politics and the wranglings of our complex county. She wants to get involved in advocacy on behalf of underserved, under-attended residents who are often overlooked when it comes to dealing with development, schools, transportation, zoning, and the overall bureaucracy our home geopolitical glob-o-sphere of almost one million residents.
She is going with me to meetings, she is asking the right questions, she is meeting people. Then she calls or emails me to vent. It is very frustrating to deal with some of these people. I have probably forgotten more about these matters than other people know. I guess it comes from growing up and living within five miles of where I was born. I’m not a mover or shaker. I just consider myself a steady, well-connected, advocate for what’s right. And yeah, I’ve been around the block once or twice. I am glad to have someone to help bring along into the process. We need people to step up and exercise civic duty and pride to make our community, our county, and our state a better place to live for all.
Taking someone under your wing requires time, attention, and patience. But it’s well worth it. This is the kind of stuff I live for, and what gives me the most personal pride. It sorta makes me feel like my life is worthwhile, and appreciated.
Life is short: show someone that you care.