Inspiration, Meet Molten Metal

When someone reaches out to you from high school, there comes a flashback of some things that would better be left forgotten; braces, insane fashion choices, and not always hanging out with the most savory of individuals. After sorting through the onslaught of the “embarrassing-life-choices” montage, I settled on that this person might have in fact been someone who deserved more credit than an awkward high school kid really knew how to give. So, okay, dinner it is.

Emo Kid

My long lost friend drove from Berkley to Fairfax so that I wouldn’t have to fend off any more neurotic California drivers than I needed to on the scooter. Meeting me at my friend’s house, I of course had to show him my sweet ride. Happily perched in the backyard, my friend and I circled the pretty beast and I chatted about how I planned to cam-strap some bicycle panniers onto the back end and hope for the best. Proud of my ingenuity (read, blind faith), I looked to him for appreciation of my plans. Instead of nodding agreement, his eyes were darting all across the scooter with a slight hint of excited steam escaping from his ears. I knew my idea was not that amazing, and so I was curious as to what wheels were turning.

Jolene Sitting Pretty

Him: “You know, we could build a rack for your scooter”

Me: “Like, glue or drill some stuff on there?”

Him: “No, like fabricate a metal rack that will safely hold your saddle bags, top case, and gas can.”

Me: “Wait… What? That’s a real thing?”

Him: “You know I manage a metal shop, right?”

Me: “As in, you know how to and CAN do stuff like that?”

Him: *Tapping his fingertips in succession below his chin with a mad scientist gleam in his eyes* “Oh yes, I know exactly what we need to do”

The Master Creator

Well… ‘Why not?’ I thought to myself, and agreed to take the pathetic OEM plastic rack to check out his shop in Berkley.

The OEM Rack

We slid open the metal gate to reveal a shipping container graveyard. Atop one was a succession of alternative fuel processing things, each one looking less Frankenstein than the last. They were poised like discarded robots mid animation. I was unsure of what my evening would hold, but I was excited to see what kind of shop would produce metal creatures such as these.

The first step into the warehouse I was submersed into a clip art version of Burning Man. Apparently this space was once used to create art expressions for the festival. The remaining salutes to the inspired event were everywhere, from a giant hanging paper mache woman to oversized metal signs. It was a steam punk paradise. My friend turned around to catch the wonderment in my eyes, then immediately got to creating.

Burning Ban

It is so rare to find someone who you can share bits and pieces of ideas, each adding a little fragment, until it becomes whole. “That’s crazy” or “That’s stupid” did not exist, only wider eyes of excitement, and real time application of imagination. This has now become the bar for how I want to work with anyone. Sure, some things don’t work, but who says that’s actually a bad thing? It was amazing to just have each road block fuel us into some other avenue, even better than the last.

I watched, as this rack was being bent and welded to life. While my friend had all of the knowledge on how to do metal work, he included me in everything. I bent metal, I measured, I drilled holes. I haven’t really been ‘allowed’ to do anything like this before, not with something ‘permanent’. I have always been given the tasks that had instructions, this however, had none and damn that was exhilarating!

And guess what?! I got to try my hand at welding! Yes, molten metal manipulation is now in my bag of tricks. Even as I was nervous, or screwed up (Imagine, not doing something correctly on the first try is actually ok?!), he would guide me to do it again, changing things here and there so that I might be able to see what I was doing better, or have a better access angle, or whatever, to the point where I even signed my own name on the rack. THAT is badass.

My Signature

Here’s what gets me, this person who I haven’t seen in years, wanted to do this for me in exchange for nothing. AND, even though we didn’t finish everything in one night, he invited me back to finish! Talk about humbling. Whatever gifts I accumulate over my years, I want to be in a position where I can offer them to people who need them. This whole experience is just another reminder how money screws up some of the most basic human exchanges. I will forever be grateful that the life I lead keeps putting me in situations where the best of people is continuously offered to me. I will strive for the rest of my life to be worthy of such kindness.

And so, six hours had passed sending us past midnight. After the biggest, bestest hug I could muster, we went back to Fairfax, so he could drop me off, and I could send him back with the rest of the things we needed to make sure fit on the rack. Exhausted from the overflowing inspiration, and realization that metalwork is satisfying yet HARD, we agreed to have me bring the bike for round two, another day soon.

Measuring and marking


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