BEST OF JODY’S BOX: HOW THE PEOPLE YOU DON’T LIKE CAN MAKE YOU A BETTER PERSON
BY JODY WEISEL
I love my life. I sincerely hope you can say the same thing. I have a lot to be thankful for, and I often come up short on showing my appreciation to the people who make my bliss possible—”Lovely Louella,” my parents, my friends and, something you may or may not understand as easily, the people I don’t like.
Let me explain. Lovely Louella is incredibly understanding of my foibles. She knows that I don’t talk very much. I don’t like going out. I prefer to stay home. I never take a vacation. I say “no” to the vast majority of suggestions of things to do or places to go, and I spend all my time on motocross. I’d be foolish to not understand that she makes all of my foibles possible. She pampers me like I am a little prince. I suppose in a way, a very nice way, she doesn’t make me a better person, because she lets me be me. On the other hand, the people I don’t like do make me a better person, because I see them as classic examples of how I don’t want to act.
When I see a fast rider look back in anger as he passes a slower rider, even taking the time to whip his rear wheel in the slower guy’s direction, I feel disgust. Does this dip not realize that the slow guy was once him or that there are lots of faster guys on the planet who could out-whip him tenfold. When I see guys who believe that speed earns them some kind of pass to act like a jerk, I can’t help but see a little of myself in their behavior. It doesn’t make me happy to think that I may have done something similar, like yell at a lapper as we exited the track, swerve into a slower rider’s path when I passed him or given him the “look-back of superiority.”
“I NEVER USE “SLOW” OR “FAST” AS A MEASURE OF HUMAN WORTH. A FAST SPREE KILLER MIGHT FIND A FOLLOWING IN TODAY’S SCREWED-UP
VALUE SYSTEM, BUT “FAST” IN FRONT OF SOMEONE’S NAME
DOESN’T FIX EGREGIOUS CHARACTER FLAWS.”
Paradoxically, when I engage in bad behavior, I don’t recognize it—until I see someone else do the same thing. Every day I spend at the races, I am improved as a person, largely by the actions of the people I don’t like. I never use “slow” or “fast” as a measure of human worth. A fast spree killer might find a following in today’s screwed-up value system, but “fast” in front of someone’s name doesn’t fix egregious character flaws.
It’s no secret that I don’t do interviews, go to motocross reunions, want to travel to any place that the 15 Freeway doesn’t go to or open myself up to people who come up to shake my hand. I’ve never sought out the people I admire, asked them for an autograph, lingered in the shadow of a star or name-dropped. I am by no means a loner, but by the same token any undo attention embarrasses me. I have read on the internet that on occasion I was rude to someone who met me at the track. I don’t believe it. More accurately, I don’t believe that they met me at the track; rude is a possibility. At the races I stay deep in my pit area. If I was rude to someone, there must have been a good reason, because I was brought up in a military family. If you were raised in one also, you were raised to say “Ma’am” and “Sir,” not to speak unless spoken to, to work hard, live a simple life and know that your actions reflect on the family honor. Thus, the loudmouth, crude and base clarions of our sport are not my cup of tea. And the more I see or hear of them, the deeper I retreat into my barn.
I don’t have any friends who aren’t motocross racers. I don’t think it was a conscious choice to exclude former high school friends or college acquaintances, just a simple function of my day-to-day life. I would rather spend a Saturday with my friends at Glen Helen than go to an AMA National, travel to a Grand Prix in Finland or take a guided tour of KTM’s Mattighofen factory. I did those things for decades. Now I want to race, and I want to spend time with people who are just like me. That is how tribes are formed. We share an interest in the same things. We look out for each other, pitch in to fix a flat, lend a bike to a rider in need, hand over our last tear-off and share the kind of aggressive banter that is the hallmark of male behavior.
But since my job—a 365-days-a-year job—is to live and breathe motocross, when the race is over, the bikes are clean and the day is done, I don’t hang out with my motocross friends, because I don’t hang out. I also don’t text. I don’t have a Facebook page. I don’t have a smartphone (I have a flip phone, which is always lost in the cushions on the couch). I don’t post what I had for lunch (or anything else) on Instagram. I don’t have a phone on my desk at Motocross Action’s palatial offices (my phone rings on Daryl Ecklund’s desk). All I want you to know about me can be found in every month’s “Jody’s Box.”
I am proud and surprised that motocross racers like the words I write, but not dismayed that there are people who hate me (based solely on the words I write). Neither side of the “love him or leave him” argument has any real reason to feel either way.
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