I was passed by a San Diego sheriff’s deputy on my way out of town one evening last week — he was in a patrol car. I don’t see patrol cars too often these days. It’s all SUVs now. It didn’t take long before I started connecting the dots to other patrol cars, including those I’ve ridden in the back of as a teenager. Before I knew it, I was reflecting one patrol car in particular — driving down my street in the summer between my 7th and 8th grade years.
I don’t remember for sure, but I might have just finished mowing the lawn. I do remember standing in my front yard wearing a swimsuit and being shirtless. An Arapahoe County sheriff’s car passed slowly in front of my house. The window was down, and feeling all of my 13 years, I raised my left hand and gave the deputy my middle finger. He immediately stopped.
My dad, who must’ve been in the garage, found his way to the front yard as the deputy stepped from his car to the middle of my lawn — where I stood scared to death. The deputy and my father had a conversation a few feet away from me. They spoke soft enough that I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but loud enough that I knew that’s exactly what they wanted.
My father asked that I apologize to the deputy and I did. I looked down as I shook his hand though. My dad raised his voice as he told me to look him in the eye. I looked up to see real person — a man with reddish hair, a reddish mustache, and a very stern look, but a forgiving one.
The deputy drove away and my father sent me upstairs to my bedroom. A few minutes later dad arrived with a legal pad and a pen. I was instructed to write the following 500 times…
“I will not give cops my middle finger”
That was the only time I ever experienced writer’s cramps. The following day my hand was sore and continued cramping well into the afternoon. I’m not sure writing anything 500 times ever did much to minimize my bad behaviors, but it was the punishment of choice by my father. What did make an impact though, took place the following week.
I arrived at Skyline Acres Swim & Tennis Club for my first diving practice of the season — at that point I’d been a 1-meter and 3-meter springboard diver for a couple of years.￼ Springboard diving is something I excelled at ￼in my teens. ￼At practice that first day, ￼I was introduced to my new coach, Ron Genlsow.
Yup, my new diving coach, who would stay with me for the next three years, was also Deputy Ron Genslow from the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s department. He and I had met a week earlier — on my front lawn. He remembered me from the incident the previous week, but said nothing to the rest of the team. Ron was a great coach and a terrific leader.
There was one dive I’d struggled with the summer prior, for fear of hitting the diving board. That dive was an inward dive in the layout position. My fear of hitting the board was obvious. During our first practice, ￼Ron deliberately coached me closer and closer to the diving board so I’d scrape my head on the edge of the board ￼— to get it over with. No stitches were required. To this day, that remains one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned about physical pain — that it’s always temporary. I still think about that day all the time.
Ron loved yacht rock. Driving to diving meets with him each week I was introduced to Hall & Oates, Ambrosia, America, and Pablo Cruise to name a few — all bands I still listen to regularly. He also introduced me to Tommy Bolin.
Ron drove a maroon Chevy Laguna. I always referred to it as the La Gwanna. My favorite memory of Ron was in a parking lot getting ready to head to a diving meet. A teammate and I were joking about the La Gwanna when Ron stopped us abruptly and said…
“Say La Gwanna again and I’ll shoot you both…”
I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean it. Ron allowed me to use him as a job reference, right up until I joined the Coast Guard. We lost touch after that. When I asked if I could use him for a reference on my Coast Guard application, he said yes. He then told me he was proud of me and reminded me how far I had come. Yeah, I’m crying right now.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
This Week By The Numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 7
15.1 mph avg
13 hours 19minutes seat time
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Richard Hawley. Enjoy…