The New York Dream

When you have a motorcycle website and are willing to share your phone number with people who seem to be legitimate buyers, it is not unusual to get phone calls inquiring about your bikes for sale.  Pictured is a beautiful CA160 that I had up for sale in 2004.  I had several phone calls from a guy who asked a lot of questions.  I answered them the best I could and let him know that he was welcome to come and see the bike and hear it run.  Well, a few weeks went by and I didn’t hear from him, until he called one weekday evening in December.  By this time I recognized his voice and knew his name was “David.”  We set a time for him to come on Saturday around two o’clock and see the bike, firsthand.

I have a very long driveway, so about noon, I set the bike out in front of my barn and waited.  It was little warmer than usual for December but I imagine the thermometer was straining to hit 45 degrees and the day was overcast.   Well, 2 pm came and went that day, and since I didn’t have a phone number for him, I decided he wasn’t coming.  At about 2:30, I was upstairs looking out my window toward the street when I saw a green and white taxi cab backing down my driveway back to the main street.  Strange, I thought, a cab driver is lost.  About another 30 seconds went by, and I heard my door bell ring.  Standing there was a young man of about 20 years old wearing an odd looking knit cap that I had seen worn only in pictures of Laplanders herding their reindeer near the Arctic Circle. He introduced himself as David, adding that he had come to see the bike.  As we walked around the house toward the barn, I noticed that there was no vehicle.  No car, no truck, no motorcycle except for my Honda Dream still sitting in front of the barn.

Without giving me time to ask about his lack of a means of transportation, he jumped right into the conversation.  “What a great looking motorcycle,” he said, “just like you described it.  It is in beautiful condition.  Wow, no one where I live has one like this. It will be a real conversation piece.  Can you start it up?”  I did so, and then took it for a spin down the driveway and down the road for about a half mile.  When I came back he was absolutely beaming.  He pulled a wad of cash from his pocket. “$950. is what we agreed upon, right?”

“Right, I said, but…”

“I’ll take it!” he said, handing me the cash.

“Wow, what an easy sale,” I thought. Then I pondered just a bit about the person I was dealing with. Looking around, I said, “Was that your cab that brought you here?”

“Right,” he said, “I was a bit worried that he was having trouble finding you, but when I saw the bike in your driveway, I knew I was in the right place, so I sent him on his way.”

“How do you intend to get the bike home?” I asked.

“I am going to ride it,” he said with some authority. 

“David,” I said, “the motorcycle doesn’t have a license plate, it isn’t insured, and I am not sure I can find a notary on Saturday afternoon. How far is your place? I can load the bike into my pickup truck and take you there.”

“I live in Brooklyn, New York,” he answered with a straight face. “I took a Greyhound bus to downtown Columbus and then the cab ride out here. It will take me a while, but I can take my time!  Don’t worry,” he said. “I have my helmet in this bag.” I was absolutely dumbfounded.  Not only was this an utterly ridiculous plan, but he was not dressed for a long, cold ride and the temperature was dropping by the minute!

I tried to reason further with him.  Even though it was a great running bike, I explained that it had 40-year-old original tires and that it was not safe to ride any kind of distance on old tires. This warning did not seem to dissuade him. This was going to be his adventure!  I told him that even though it was a great running bike, anything can happen with a piece of equipment that old.  “What about the lack of a license plate?” I cautioned. Without one, you will likely be stopped and then be in very big trouble!”

Not to be denied he said, “I will have a signed title and you can give me a bill of sale. That should be enough to satisfy the police!  Oh my, I thought, what a Pilgrim!”

Finally, he seemed to agree that riding it home that day wasn’t going to work. I told him that I could store it for him until he could get it picked up by a carrier and safely transported to Brooklyn. That would be the best way to get it there. I could tell that his New York City mentality was not allowing for that much trust. I then explained that there was a store-and-lock about a mile away and that I could load the bike up in my pickup truck and take him over there.  He was skeptical, so I gave him the number of the storage place and let him call them.  Satisfied that they were a legitimate business, he agreed to let me drive him over there, and he rented a stall and locked up his newly purchased prize.

With key in hand, he came over to me as I sat in my pickup and thanked me.  “How far is the bus station?” he asked.

“About 10 miles,” I replied, “but I would be happy to take you there.”

“Great,” he said, as he grabbed the passenger door handle, and then he stopped abruptly.  He looked at me and said, “Thanks, but I will call a cab.”

“Ok,” I said, thinking this was strange behavior, but in fact he was a odd anyway, so no big deal.  As he walked away, I started the truck and began to pull away, but then I stopped and turned off the ignition and called to him to come back over to the truck. He came over with a puzzled look and asked, “Is there a problem?”

 I said, “David, I just have one question before you go.  Is the reason you don’t want me to take you back to the bus station because you think I am going to ‘roll you,’ and take all of your money, and throw you into the river?”

He got a sheepish look on his face, stammered a bit and said, “Uh, it is probably best that I call a cab.” 

“David,” I said, “this is NOT New York City, and not everyone is out to take you. I have just spent two hours with you AFTER I accepted your money and could have just let you work out your own transportation problems! You can wait another hour for a suburban cab to make its way out here and spend another $30 for a ride to get to the bus station.  Or, you can come with me and make it easy on yourself. Your choice.”

He pondered it for about 10 seconds and then hopped into the truck. On the way downtown, he explained that his parents were diplomats and that he had lived in several foreign countries growing up. Now he was living in the big and impersonal New York City where being taken advantage seemed to be  the normal way of life. 

Well, you can see the picture of him on his way into the bus station and back to the Big Apple.  I wished him well and headed home. After about two weeks, I checked with the store-and-lock and confirmed that the bike had been picked up. I never heard another word from him. I trust he is zooming around the streets of New York and having a ball.  However, I can never shake the thought that maybe the streets of New York City are a lot meaner than the streets of Grove City, Ohio.