Yesterday, I commuted home by train as usual. At the train station is parked the motorcycle I’m borrowing from a friend, which I’ve been riding pretty much every day since October. There’s another motorcyclist standing next to me chatting with me while we both get our gear on.
So I stick my key in the ignition and turn it, and the guy says, “Huh. Your headlight didn’t come on. Does it usually come on when you turn the key?” To which I respond in the affirmative. And to boot, when I hit the ignition button, nothing happens. And I mean nothing – dead silence. I try this a few times thinking that some miracle will happen, and it doesn’t. I think maybe I’ve run the bike out of gas, so I play with the fuel switch, which is completely stupid because the bike would react completely differently if I’d run out of gas, but it beats standing around scratching my head. This, too, doesn’t work.
So then my biker friend and I circle the bike together looking for loose wires or blown fuses, to no avail. So we both scratch our heads. I finally tell him that I’ve got AAA, so he may as well take off and I’ll get it towed. But I decide to call the bike owner to see if he has any ideas before I call AAA.
So I call my buddy and tell him what’s going on, to which he responds with several choruses of “Huh. That’s odd.” He asks if I can have it towed to his shop, which I can’t, because his shop is about 30 miles away and I only get 7 miles with AAA. So we agree to have it towed back to my house and figure something out from there.
Just before we hang up, he starts mumbling to himself about various possibilities, and the only word I actually catch is “neutral.” To which I respond, “Uh…hmm, hang on a second.” Because his comment reminded me that after I’d parked the bike that morning, I’d started it up again to try to adjust the angle in which I’d parked, which meant I’d put it back in gear. And I didn’t remember putting it back into neutral when I was done. So, uh…yeah – turns out the bike wasn’t in neutral, which means it won’t start. Roared right to life after I took it out of gear – some 10 minutes after this folly had begun.
Fortunately, my friend has a great sense of humor. He laughed, said, “Fuck you, Asimovian – I’m going back to work!” and hung up the phone. And I’m still hearing about it today, of course. Deservedly so.