Tag Archive | story

Shockoe Moto

“After five months at the think tank I’d saved enough to buy some tools I needed, and quit. I was going to go into business fixing motorcycles. My plan was to start small, working out of my garage. But soon I met Tommy, who had a line on some warehouse space that could be had for cheap rent. We went in on it together; my share of the rent was a hundred dollars per month.

“For the first three years of its existence, my shop was located in this brick warehouse, near the train station in the decaying downtown area of Richmond called Shockoe Bottom. The business grew fitfully during this time, with always-uncertain prospects in the leaking, uninsurable building that sat at ground zero of a planned baseball stadium. One day I surveyed the cans of gasoline, the solvent circulating in the parts cleaner, and above all the makeshift squatter’s wiring, and decided it was time to move. And in fact, the building has since burned down. But the episode I want to relate shortly, involving a Honda Magna, took place in this warehouse, so allow me to describe the scene.

“The warehouse held an underground economy, completely invisible from the street. In addition to my shop, known as Shockoe Moto to those who knew which glazed-over window to knock on, there was a two-man cabinet shop, and two other motorcycle mechanics operating independently. Down the hall was Garnet, the laconic Harley and Brit-bike old-timer with his Whitworth wrenches and long pauses, working in the gloom cast by a single drop light in the cavernous darkness. Sharing my well-lit space was Tommy, a painter of [girls] and diagnoser of steering shimmies. Elsewhere in the building there was an “architectural salvage” (that is, junk) dealer rumored to deal other things as well; a building contractor with an unintelligible South Carolina accent who carried around a spinal tap of morphine for a broken back; another builder, this one a lesbian gut-and-rehab, crack-house turnaround hustler; the warehouse drunk, unpredictably loving or vicious, with his interminable Olds Toronado restoration project; a black duck named BD with a taste for ankle flesh; and The Iraqi and his silk-shirt-wearing brother, who together “managed” the building. There were also various litters of kittens and a rotating series of questionable individuals, usually “in between situations,” living upstairs in the unheatable, uncoolable warehouse, including one very sexy young S and M model and a pizza delivery guy who shot a man in self-defense and then skipped town, leaving behind only a Koran and a pile of [magazines]. I’d gone from the Committee on Social Thought to this.”


Matthew B. Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft, pp. 109-111.



A friend mentioned that I hadn’t posted on my blog in a while and encouraged me to write about something. My life has been chock-full lately, but not with much of anything worth mentioning. I thought about what I could write about, and a single word popped into my head: coffee.

To some people coffee is totally disgusting, while to others it’s essential for life. Me? I can take it or leave it. But I do enjoy having a cup of joe while sitting around and chatting with friends. To me it’s a social drink – something to be sipped in between chuckles and stories. It’s a carrier for relationships; a companion to time spent with friends.


Mom, Chad and I parked the car, then began walking into Walmart. The air was crisp and cool – though not too cool, hinting that Spring was on the way.

We walked through the double sliding doors, and were instantly greeted by… a scary goblin. There was orange and black everywhere! A banner over the second set of doors stated that due to an overstock of Halloween goods, the store would be decorated in a Halloween theme until mid-March.

Already I was freaking out, but I knew that I’d just have to swallow my fear of clowns and goblins, and do what had to be done. But I hadn’t anticipated every single Walmart employee being dressed in a scary costume; and this was the only time they’d ever been so eager to help, too!

As I walked through the men’s clothing section, I tried to avoid eye contact with the blood covered executioner. I started checking out the pants, looking for the size I wear. Over my shoulder I could see the scary man coming toward me. In fact, if my eyes weren’t deceiving me, he was running towards me.

I dropped the stack of pants I had to been looking at, and darted into the aisle. Long legs are definitely a blessing when it comes to out running bloody
“murderers.” However, parkour skills are involved for outrunning multiple bloody “murderers.”

I bounced between displays, around people, and over bins. It seemed like every employee in the whole store was after me! I was quickly getting boxed in. I just needed to get higher – to get someplace where they couldn’t. I started climbing up a shelf, but a hooded man with a scythe grabbed my leg and started pulling. I kicked and hit something wooden. I kicked again… and woke up.

What is it with nightmares? Why do we have them? I really don’t know, and I don’t know why I have the same one over and over again (I’ve never had a different nightmare from the “halloween at Walmart” one). Some times I wonder is it’s something spiritual – it seems like I only ever have that dream before going on missions trip, or something of that nature. Is it just an attempt to break me down; to make me say, “I can’t. I’m too afraid”?

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Because, truly, I can’t. Only Christ can. God help me if I ever say, “I can” – that’s when he gets less glory, and I get it all. If I don’t screw it up in the process, that is.

Ya know – maybe on that note, the nightmare isn’t an attack to get me to feel like I can’t do what I should do, but rather it’s actually a reminder that I can only do it in Christ’s strength! I mean, the dream has absolutely nothing to do with that theme, but it does make me feel fear and run to Christ for consolation. Without Christ – no matter how big or small my fears are, and no matter how week or strong I think I am – nothing of eternal value can be accomplished.

So while I hate clowns and goblins (but especially clowns), I’m thankful for them because they remind me that “I can [only] do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

To Build a Fire, by Jack London

I ran across this story while reading a wilderness survival book last night – it’s quite interesting, and sobering.

DAY HAD BROKEN cold and gray, exceedingly cold and gray, when the man turned aside from the main Yukon trail and climbed the high earth-bank, where a dim and little-travelled trail led eastward through the fat spruce timberland. It was a steep bank, and he paused for breath at the top, excusing the act to himself by looking at his watch. It was nine o’clock. There was no sun nor hint of sun, though there was not a cloud in the sky. It was a clear day, and yet there seemed an intangible pall over the face of things, a subtle gloom that made the day dark, and that was due to the absence of sun. This fact did not worry the man. He was used to the lack of sun. It had been days since he had seen the sun, and he knew that a few more days must pass before that cheerful orb, due south, would just peep above the sky-line and dip immediately from view.

“The Yukon lay a mile wide and hidden under three feet of ice.”
The man flung a look back along the way he had come. The Yukon lay a mile wide and hidden under three feet of ice. On top of this ice were as many feet of snow. It was all pure white, rolling in gentle undulations where the ice-jams of the freeze-up had formed. North and south, as far as his eye could see, it was unbroken white, save for a dark hair-line that curved and twisted from around the spruce-covered island to the south, and that curved and twisted away into the north, where it disappeared behind another spruce-covered island. This dark hair-line was the trail—the main trail—that led south five hundred miles to the Chilcoot Pass, Dyea, and salt water; and that led north seventy miles to Dawson, and still on to the north a thousand miles to Nulato, and finally to St. Michael on Bering Sea, a thousand miles and half a thousand more.

But all this—the mysterious, far-reaching hair-line trail, the absence of sun from the sky, the tremendous cold, and the strangeness and weirdness of it all—made no impression on the man. It was not because he was long used to it. He was a newcomer in the land, a chechaquo, and this was his first winter. The trouble with him was that he was without imagination. He was quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in the significances. Fifty degrees below zero meant eighty-odd degrees of frost. Such fact impressed him as being cold and uncomfortable, and that was all. It did not lead him to meditate upon his frailty as a creature of temperature, and upon man’s frailty in general, able only to live within certain narrow limits of heat and cold; and from there on it did not lead him to the conjectural field of immortality and man’s place in the universe. Fifty degrees below zero stood for a bite of frost that hurt and that must be guarded against by the use of mittens, ear-flaps, warm moccasins, and thick socks. Fifty degrees below zero was to him just precisely fifty degrees below zero. That there should be anything more to it than that was a thought that never entered his head.

Read the rest of the story here.

Wild Horses – A Survival Story Part 1

I dared to look up at the man sitting next to me. “Where are you taking me?” The balaclava clad guy didn’t answer – he just fingered the safety on his M4. I went back to looking down at my mud-stained boots, and listening to the rhythmic pounding of the helicopter blades. I figured that, since we had been flying for at least 5 hours, we were probably pretty far out into the middle of nowhere by now.

15 minutes later, when the helicopter slowed and descended to the ground, I found that my figuring had been correct. I climbed out, due to the prompting of the guy with the M4, and looked around. There was nothing to be seen but sparse patches of grass and clumps of half-wilted trees for miles around. I turned to the guy next to me, the confused look on my face asking “what now?” For the first time in the whole five hour trip, he spoke to me.

“You… we… how do I explain this?” The man paused, thinking about how to word the bad news that he was all-too-happy to share. I imagined a smile spreading across his face under the black balaclava. “We, of course, took you hostage. We threatened your family that if we weren’t given $25,000 dollars before the end of two weeks, we would kill you.”

I nodded.

“Two weeks is up.”

I nodded again, knowing all to well what was about to happen, but hoping against all odds that it wouldn’t.

“However, we aren’t cold-blooded murderers.” The man stepped closer to me. “So, we’re giving you a chance – to live. If you can find your way out of this blasted, forsaken country, you go free. If not…” The man chuckled as he and his goons climbed back into the helicopter.

I watched as the helicopter lifted from the ground and moved off towards the horizon. The pounding of the roters grew increasingly quieter. Before too long all was silent. No, actually; it wasn’t. I thought I could hear the roters pounding behind me, now. I knew it couldn’t be true; that it was just my mind playing tricks. I turned anyway – just in time to come face-to-face with a herd of horses, running wildly, whinnying, and bucking; and apparently angry with their unexpected visitor – me.