Crankin’ away at the word-mill… I’ll be posting bits and pieces from the book Zen and The Art of Moto Taxi Survival in the coming weeks.
Here’s a bit from the introduction:
It had to be one of the dumbest – and most exciting – things I’ve ever done.
It also turned out to be one of the smartest.
In a world where people routinely leap from cliffs, bridges, and the tops of skyscrapers with barely a shred of nylon tied to their backs… travel into regions rife with civil war and wasting diseases… and bet fortunes on securities designed to fail… it wasn’t the most insane thing a person can do. But on a personal scale of 1 (harmless) to 10 (suicidal) in my First World Ultra-Responsible Dependent-Supporting Adult Life, it was around a 9.75.
One March morning, while running late for important meetings at my employer’s headquarters just outside Paris, France, I hopped on the back of a stranger’s Honda ST1300 sport touring motorcycle taxi (a “moto taxi” for hire at Charles de Gaulle airport), and raced at top speed through heavy Paris-bound traffic. My driver was not losing any time, and in the process of getting where we were going very, very fast, we violated about as many rules of common sense and motorcycle safety, as I can think of.
What took place on that day was one of the few times in my half-century of “adventure living” when I was pretty much convinced I was going to die. I tend to err on the side of risk in my life, diving into nascent industries and emerging technologies with gusto… taking on challenges at work that most shy away from… and running multiple side businesses on a shoestring – one of them a national presence for nearly 20 years running. But I don’t often deliberately put myself directly in harm’s way. When it comes to my daily adventures, I have One Rule: Make it home in time for dinner. That overcast day in March, 2014, was one of those times when I wasn’t at all sure if I was going to make it home. Or make it anywhere – especially for dinner.
You might ask yourself, why the hell would anyone get on the back of a motorcycle, driven by a total stranger, and race at top speed between clogged lanes of a highway far from home, weaving through stalled traffic, just inches away from surrounding vehicles – and narrowly missing disaster not once, but more times than I can count? It was practically a death wish. At the very least, it was a really Bad Idea. What the hell was I thinking?
But if you’ve ever flown into Charles de Gaulle (CDG for short) in France, and then tried to get to Paris by car, you’ll probably understand why I did it. If you’ve ever been racing the clock on official business anywhere in the world, only to be faced by a seemingly insurmountable crush of stopped traffic, you’ll probably be able to relate, too. It wasn’t m y finest (or worst) hour, but it happened.
And I lived to tell about it. . . .