When I first started writing this article my intension was to write about one individual’s efforts to provide help to those caught in the devastation of the recent hurricane that hit the gulf coast. Yet as often happens with my writing, as the article progressed I realized that to fully describe the individual of whom I was writing it would require an entire article in and of itself. Thus this article has metamorphosed into my attempt to give the reader some inkling of this rather unique individual, how I came to know him and how we became friends. This story once more illustrates something I have often said about what I consider one of the greatest pleasures of riding; namely, the infinite opportunities it presents to meet and interact with people and enjoy experiences that are constantly presented to us if only we stop to take the time rather than rush through life only to discover later what we have missed in doing so. But let us begin.
When I got back into riding motorcycles in the spring of 1999 after a number of years of not owning a two-wheeler I purchased a old, rather disheveled, 1973 BMW. As I worked to restore it to running condition, which it turned out required very little effort, I looked for sources of information on the web pertaining to older BMW motorcycles. One such source of information was a group called the Slash 5 Black Sheep that had a mailing list/discussion forum hosted by yahoo. What I quickly discovered was that while there was some discussion of motorcycles on the list, most of what was discussed was in no way related to motorcycles. Rather, the topics were as varied as the members of the list themselves. In fact much of it was as the name implied when shortened to just its initials, simply BS. Being something of a Black Sheep in my own right, just as many of the established members were, I felt right a home and was soon busy posting away with the other core members.
As with any such list or forum, out of all the members there is a core group of individuals who provide much of the input to the list. In the case of this new BS list the background, interests, opinions and political viewpoints of its members are as varied as one could find in any cross section of society. During the ensuing years since joining I have had the pleasure to meet most of those who form that core group of the list, some of whom are perhaps the most colorful and unique individuals I have ever had the pleasure to know and to call my friends. It is one such individual and the selfless nature of his efforts to help those who faced hardship from the passing of Hurricane Katrina, who is the subject of this article.
Now that I’ve set the stage let me introduce you to this rather extraordinary individual who’s chosen “handle” on the BS list is simply “Richard, Scott In Exile”, or Richard SIE for short. It was through our interactions on the list that I first came to form a fondness for this individual, a fondness which as grown over the years to form a bond that is unique in its own right. We have, over the years, been involved in discussions on an almost endless variety of subjects, each of which has provided yet another glimpse at the many faces of Richard, yet in some ways also deepens the mystery of who he truly is. (An admission that I feel quite sure will tickle him to no end.) I soon realized that this was an individual who danced to his own tune and preferred to listen to voices in his head rather than the voices of the “supposedly” sane world at large. A man who believed what he chose to believe regardless of what others might think or do, and who was completely unconcerned how others might react to his beliefs. We soon formed a special relationship through our correspondence, although on reflection it seems we share very little in common on many subjects. Yet somehow, we seemed to connect on some deeper level that transcends what many friendships are normally based on. Before long we often ended our emails to each other with a simple “your bother in the wind”. While at first I wasn’t quite sure what make of his references to such things as wearing a “tinfoil hat” to protect his thoughts and prevent others from penetrating his mind, it didn’t really matter. And even though his posting were often seemingly very random, his thoughts disjointed, his spelling so utterly atrocious that often times I found it a challenge to extract any intelligence from his posts, that detracted not the least from enjoying our correspondence. In fact, being challenged myself in the art of spelling I could fully appreciate the challenge he obviously faced.
As I was to come to discover later, and again just recently, in complete contrast to those rambling disjointed postings there are times that his postings are some of the most eloquently phased dissertations on the list. Just recently before completing this article he once again treated us on the list to one of his wonderful stories and in so doing revealed yet another, not often seen, side of his life. It is this very contrast, this light and dark contained within one individual, sometimes so hard to fathom, that only leads me to a further appreciation of his depth, diversity and uniqueness. When I first read his references to performing some voodoo ritual or creating of a voodoo doll of member of the list I simply took it in jest, yet after reading some of his later posts, I have come to realize that there is an underlying core belief system to which he subscribes that again is unique to him and him alone.
So it was that approximately a year after joining the BS list and my first encounters with Richard on the BS list, I had the opportunity to meet him in person at a small gathering put together by myself and another member. Again, Richard and I seemed to instantaneously take a liking to each other, it was almost like a meeting between long lost brothers. As we shook hands he informed me that upon first meeting someone he often treated them with a display of removing his false teeth (as though this would somehow enamor the newly formed friendship), but that he would forgo this formality in my case. He then went on to tell me that he had, on the other hand, donned a clean tee shirt in my honor! (As someone who has been known to wear the same tee shirt for an entire weekend, I can fully appreciate the honor thus bestowed upon me by such an action.) He next invited me to tour what he refers to as his “mobile cave”, a small, somewhat dilapidated looking pickup truck with one of those camper inserts which he uses while traveling, motorcycle trailer in tow. As he was showing me around inside he pointed to a hole in the ceiling. It turned out that shortly before my arrival one of his handguns had discharged accidentally and shot a round through the roof. He seemed completely unconcerned about the event, in so far as the hole was concerned, and then informed me that indeed it made a convenient “key holder” for the key to his /5 BMW. For those of you unfamiliar with these machines note that the shape of the key used by BMW’s in sixes thru early 70’s was similar to a phono plug as used on stereo headphones, i.e. a round metal plug perhaps a inch and a half long by a quarter inch in diameter with a groove cut at the end. In all likelihood, had this recent incident been under some other set of circumstances or with any other individual, I would have most likely made a hasty retreat, yet in this instance nothing was further from my mind. After this we spent the rest that day and evening enjoying each others company, trading stories and meeting with several other member of the list that had come down for the weekend and that meeting and ensuing time together has became one of the most memorable events in my travels by motorcycle.
Since that meeting in 2000 we have continued to correspond through the list and private emails and it was through this continued correspondence that I came to learn of yet another side to Richard SIE. That occurred just this past month (of this writing) when out of the blue he informed the list of his intention to travel to Mississippi from his home along the border of Texas to lend assistance to the rescue effort along the gulf coast. To give you some idea of the flavor that his writings often take, when written in the haste of the moment, I have included the post below entirely unedited. I quite frankly have no idea what, if any, relation he has to the folks he refers to in his post or how he came to know of them, nor does he bother to elude to this information, but then, where Richard is concerned, that is not in the least unexpected. Now keep in mind as you read his post, he is not particularly wealthy, yet is willing to share what he has. Thus, when he heard the voices in his head, he took action to assist where he could.
i have decided to go to southern mississippi 1 1/4 hour due north of
biloxie mississppi, i know the back roads paved and unpaved
these eldely people were last heard of on sunday 08/21/05 right as
katrina was moving in, they were to move to a storm cellar and
remain there until all was clear....
presntly there is no electricitly, water, or any other utilities...
both of these folks are 80+ years require R/x's several times per
day and have to be reminded to eat, bathe etc...
i will trialer my off road bmw paris/dakar with in a 200 mile range
[400 mile total fuel range]which will allow me to return back to my
truck which i will load with supplies and gasoline
on my bike i will carry wood cutting tools, axe and small chain saw
and hand winch to clear paths as required, plus food and water for
my self....plus a few things for self defence, to clear 'other' type
of paths, which i hope not to encounter
thats what i'm doing with my labor day weekend...
so if you pray, say one from me,if you not into prayer, wish me luck
, to have the strength for what i may find....also, i shall take my
dig camera and digicam, will share with all who want to see what i find
getting my gear ready as soon as i send this
will send you updates when i get back to modern civilization, as i
understand, their is no communication past south jackson,mississippi,
For several weeks we heard nothing from him and when he did return whatever happened on his adventure is still pretty much a mystery, and most likely, as with so much of his life, it will probably remain thus. Even when prompted several times for a report, he has not really spoken of his adventure. I suppose that when, and if, he feels likes reporting on his travel to Mississippi he’ll let us all know, till then its anyone’s guess what transpired. This again, is simply Richard being………well, Richard.
So there you have it, the story of Richard SIE, how I came to know him and of how he found it in his heart to reach out to those in need during a time of tragedy, one man among many that rose to the challenge.
In my fifty-five years on this tiny blue marble called Planet Earth I have been fortunate to have met any number of unusual and unique individuals in my travels both by motorcycle and other conveyances, yet of all of them, Richard is truly one of the most unique. When all is said and done and you combine all of the various aspects of his character, you can perhaps get just an inkling of his unique perspective and personality. Each time I think I have a handle on who he is and that I have come to know, to understand and appreciate the depth and breath that is Richard, Scott in Exile, he surprises me yet again. To call him “colorful” is, at best, a gross understatement, to call him unsophisticated a disservice, he is anything but. He is simply one among many with his own unique view and his own unique lifestyle. I know I will always look forward to our next meeting, I would trust him unequivocally with my life or my belongings and I count myself extremely fortunate to call him my friend and Brother in the Wind.