Editorial By Chris Callen
Published April 2020
I can remember as a kid hearing the terms middle class, second class, upper class and then ultimately blue collar thrown around a lot. You see, these were the seventies and the country was really slicing up the pie in a demographic sense and at that time I just thought that these were descriptions of where people fell in society as far as their income brackets. Well, for most of the world, this may have been and may still be. As far as the term blue collar, I have a greater understanding of that today and see it more as a definition of a person’s life choices than a result of the economic conditions. Stick with me here…
In high school I wasn’t that motivated by grades. I didn’t think about college, wasn’t concerned with what the job market looked like. Some kids focused on these things but for me and the miscreants, I ran around with we were to wound up in learning the new Metallica riff or getting an old dirt bike someone found running so we could go for a ride. Now, I stand here today telling you that neither of those paths were wrong, but I mention them to illustrate how life choices mold you into deciding what collar you will wear. Of course high school came and went and I nearly completed all the grades before deciding that the real world, or that part of it which applied to me, had very little use for a high school diploma and I tore off to enter the job market. Now I didn’t select a career path, I just needed money to pay the bills so I could get on with doing the things I loved, simple as that. Along the way I learned some useful skills like autobody repair, metal fab work, landscaping and the care of plants and flowers and some not so useful ones like spreading horseshit evenly.
Conversely, I was part of several great bands, played live music, operated a fabric airbrush business for a short stint and to me life was good and full. The only drawback to it all was Monday morning when I had to cut my time with a blend of working for the man. Nevertheless, in the balance was the idea that I was still living my life the way I wanted, and it equaled out pretty good from my perspective. Now I’m not about to suggest that this lifestyle kept me from having the big house and fancy cars, but my choices of how to spend my days and nights did. I became part of the middle-class blue-collar work force and I did it by the choices I made over what was important in my day. If there was a hot rod or bike being built, I was in whether it was mine or a buddy’s. The experience alone was worth every minute. When it came to what to invest in, I went with tools every time. If I had the right tool, I could always put food on the table and after all the things I was interested in happened mainly while standing at a bench, not sitting in a board room.
So, what’s this all have to do with life and the motorcycle? Well, just about everything right now. You see, as this industry tightens its belt, we see many more small shops and garage builders than the big production facilities of yesterday. The spread sheets don’t capture this data and the whole thing has in large fashion gone back underground. It’s an entire world owned and operated by the blue collar workers. Kinda’ like Bartertown I guess…. The people who do it all for the love decide what’s acceptable or not and if the top percent disagrees then they just shut Bartertown down. More specifically to this thing, we just make our own parts, promote our own events and in general stop participating in their parts of the world. In the end, you just can’t control this thing, and I love that. When someone or a group of people do something because they love it, sacrifice their time and money to do it, it becomes their thing. Always has and always will be a blue collar world when it comes to custom motorbikes, that’s part of what draws the straights to it in the first place. Let’s just keep doing it for the love, the rest will take care of itself.