Smile, you’re on security camera.

Taking a tumble on a Valkyrie.

I never got a definitive answer about whether a tree falling in the woods makes a sound if there’s nobody around to hear it. But one thing I know of an absolute certainty is that if a biker drops his motorcycle and there were no witnesses, it never happened! But as we move further into the 21st century, there is less likelihood that such an event will not be witnessed.
I was pulling out of the parking lot a few days ago, going to lunch. I backed the bike up a couple of times to clear a car parked next to me, then began making the small loop to pull into the alley, just as I’ve done hundreds of times. The next thing I remember is getting up off the pavement, wondering just what the heck happened.
Whenever such an incident occurs, all bikers know there are three things that you must do immediately. First: Stand the bike back up before anybody else sees that you dropped it. Second: Nonchalantly check yourself to see if any bones are sticking out. Third: Get the heck out of there before you wind up having to answer embarrassing questions.
Unfortunately for me, one of my coworkers was out in the alley sucking a cancer stick and saw the whole thing. So much for deniability. I’d pretty well determined at this point there were no bones sticking out, but I wasn’t absolutely sure they were all in one piece inside of me. To buy some time, I backed off and made a show of inspecting the bike. Luckily, the bike doesn’t seem to have suffered any damage. My coworker had reached me by now and was incessantly asking if I was OK. I assured her that I was fine as I tried to look mildly irritated but calm.
There was a little discomfort in the right knee, but the leg seemed operable. Pants leg not torn, so it can’t be too bad. The right arm is a little different story though. Pretty well numb except for a dull ache in the bicep. It doesn’t seem to want to do as it’s told, and seems a little weak. The jury is still out on whether I can ride with it.
But as the woman continued to interrogate me about my well-being, seeming not to accept my assurances, escape became more urgent. Besides, I’d used the arm to pick up the bike. How bad could it be? Giving her a final assurance, I mounted the bike and prepared to make my exit. I hit the starter, and nothing. ARRGGGHG! Now what? Then I remember the Valkyrie has an angle sensor that will shut the engine down if the bike falls over. To reset it, I’ll just have to turn the key off and back on. With the satisfying sound of singing 6 x 6 cobras, I finally depart the scene, convinced the worst is over.
Back in the 1950s and 1960s, there was a television show whose theme song went, “When it’s least expected, you’re elected, you’re the star today. Smile, you’re on Candid Camera.” I know how the victims felt. Re-entering the building after lunch, I’m greeted by stares and a flurry of questions about whether I’m OK. It seemed an inordinate amount of attention, even if the lady who saw it had told everybody she’d seen. Then I get the bad news. She’d told her supervisor who had then reviewed the video from the parking lot security camera. By the time I got back, it seems everybody in the building had seen it at least once. I’m not sure the final show of The Sopranos got such good ratings.
Fortunately, such fame is fleeting and just a few days later nobody is talking about it. But the incident does bring up an interesting question. If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there, does it make a sound then, or only after somebody reviews it on a security camera?

- Guy Wheatley

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