There’s a term amongst motorcyclists that describes a rider who is either extremely wet behind the ears, rides beyond his/her skill level, wears little to no gear, or is extremely reckless by nature. We call these riders “squids” and the origin is actually somewhat of a controversial subject. Some say it originated on a SoCal racetrack, where the less-skilled and less-experienced riders were called “squirrelly kids”. It later was shortened to just “squids”. Other say it’s an acronym for many different things, one of which being Stupid Quick Underdressed and Imminently Dead. The attitude the motorcycle community has about “squids” is evident when visiting UrbanDictionary.com and reading the definitions. If you are labeled as a squid, it could be for many different reasons – but the most common reason is for doing things that more experienced riders would call STUPID.
The next time you see a motorcyclist riding down the road without a helmet, or in shorts and flip-flops – remember my story. Before you write the rider off as an idiot and someone who is destined to be the victim of their own actions, remember that person is someone’s son or daughter, someone’s brother or sister, someone’s mom or dad, someone’s husband or wife, someone’s aunt or uncle, someone’s cousin, someone’s coworker, someone’s true love, someone’s high school crush, someone’s best friend, someone’s neighbor, someone’s only hope for happiness…
I was one of those “stupid people” who didn’t wear all of my gear. I was worse than a squid, I was the squidly pillion of a squid, but I was also someone’s daughter, sister, wife, cousin, best friend, coworker, high school crush, and neighbor. Don’t be so quick to think that I didn’t wear my gear because I knew what could happen. On the contrary, only a few very unlucky people know the true consequences, the reality of the situation, and the weight that this decision actually carries. I didn’t wear all of my gear because no one had ever shaken me by the shoulders and told me this:
“If you don’t wear your gear, you will rip off all of your skin. It will hurt like hell for a long time… pain you cannot even imagine. You will rack up over half a million dollars worth of medical bills. You will put your family through the worst experience of their entire lives. Your amazing father, your daddy, will have to leave the hospital room on several occasions because of your screams in pain. Your husband will never come to visit you in the hospital, nor will he call or write to see how you are doing. You will know what it is like to be truly alone for the first time in your life. Your parents will be forced to miss work, lose sleep, drive to the hospital, and fear for your life every day for nearly 2 months. The financial burden on yourself and your family for the next several years will be large. You will lose your job. You will lose your ability to join the military and serve your country. You will lose the ability to walk and move on your own. You will never have beautiful skin again. You will lose all of your beautiful hair. You will spend your mother’s birthday in a hospital gown and a wheelchair. The emotional stress from this accident will affect you until the day you die. You will lose full motion in your knees for the rest of your life and they will be in constant pain. People will stare at you in the gym, in restaurants… hell, people will stare at you everywhere. You will never be fully free of the consequences of this decision. And all of this is what you are choosing when you choose not to wear gear.”
So, no, I had no idea what I was getting myself into… and neither do many of the riders out there today. This is not common sense, many people never even hear this message. This is where we have failed in the past – we have ALL failed. We shake our heads and move along instead of taking the time to educate the public on the truth. It is so easy to call someone stupid and look the other way, but what would you want someone to do for that rider if they were your son, your daughter, your best friend, your husband or wife, your sister or brother? The list of people you would hope hear this message goes on and on, and yet you choose not to help educate a perfect stranger. Where is the sense in that? When did we become so knowledgeable and special that we didn’t have the responsibility to pass along the all-important message? I sense a great lack of willingness to not only improve ourselves as riders, but to help others improve as well. Get this through your head – our need for learning is never finished.
I am hell-bent on changing the way riders receive TRUE education about the consequences of riding without proper gear, proper training and proper attitude. By all means, I understand that it’s not just about the gear. However, the subject of gear is where I have a God-given ability to pull back the curtain and show people what the rest of the world is too scared, lazy, or “important” to show riders. Sadly enough, there are more out there who have also been through what I have. I hope you are fortunate enough to have never experienced a crash like mine. Help me keep it that way for yourself, your families, and the riders who you otherwise would shake your head at. If you want things to change, it MUST start with us. I can tell you now that it makes a huge difference, even when you feel as if you’re the only one doing it. Spread the message, lead by example, and change someone’s life.