I glanced furtively at my hands. The knuckles were turning bone white as the blood rushed to my fingertips. Grasping the handle bar controls with a death grip, we were ascending eight miles on barely a road straight into the clouds. I looked once to my right and saw nothing but air and rocks for as far down as I could see. Focus was key here: focusing completely on this hellacious pathway. As we groaned up the tar-covered thoroughfare in first gear, I yelled out each mile marker as we passed it. One, two, three, then finally eight. We had reached the summit of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. The Great White Steed, our 1,000-pound prize of an iron horse, climbed the Mt. Washington Auto Road in stately fashion.
It was 44 degrees up there on this particular August day. As I tried to inhale the splendor of the views at 6,288 feet of elevation, only one thought was racing through my simple mind: I still have to ride back down this infernal road. A pleasant distraction helped to get my mind together. I enter the visitor’s center and what do I see? On the summit of Mt. Washington, on the highest peak in America’s Northeast, sits a post office. An employee goes up to this post office every day, collects the mail, and then brings the mail down that road again back to civilization. After scribbling a few postcards, and with a regained confidence, we rode the eight miles down from the summit in first gear. We had conquered the Mt. Washington Auto Road, and I have the sticker slapped on my Harley to prove it.
After traveling all across this land, from coast to coast, from north to south, that was not the worst road we have traveled on. There was a back road in Colorado I was sure we were not going to traverse unscathed. The many torrential rainstorms Madame Dick and I have endured along our excursions could fill an evening of conversation. I do not like horrible roads or detestable weather, yet we keep coming back for more year after year. Why? I have found that there is a sense of satisfaction unlike any other that comes from overcoming a fear and escaping from your comfort zone. That sense of staying comfortable leads to lack of growth and a lethargic state of being. Eleanor Roosevelt said it best: “Do one thing every day that scares you.”
We are entering a most historic election cycle in the state of Michigan right now. We have a governor’s race that is at a dead heat between Republican Rick Snyder and Democrat Mark Schauer. The race for the U.S. Senate seat between Republican Terri Lynn Land and Democrat Gary Peters is a 50-50 tie as well, according to the latest polls. We have a chance to throw out the “Nerd” Snyder, whose administration made Michigan a “right to work” state as well as making corporate interests a priority before the interests of the working class. Terri Lynn Land is cut from the same cloth: Her husband is a multi-millionaire real estate developer. Ironically, she showed making only $33,000 on her last year’s tax return.
On the other hand, Mark Schauer is a card-carrying union brother. He belongs to the Laborers Union and proudly waved his card to the crowd at the Detroit Labor Day March. Gary Peters is an honorary member of our National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 3126. In his four years in Congress, he has supported every piece of endorsed legislation by our Union to preserve the Postal Service. He is a motorcycle enthusiast; so he’ll be getting two votes from me!
The choice is clear. Crystal clear. But we need to do more than just get to the polls on Election Day. With the numbers being this close, we have to engage and influence our friends, family members, co-workers, and even some strangers to vote for these and other pro-worker candidates. This is the hard work, the work that most of us want to shy away from. We need to make phone calls, knock on doors, put up yard signs, talk politics with family and friends. We need you to step outside your comfort zone for just one day and make a commitment to yourself that you will do some of this hard work. The other side has millions of dollars to push this election in their direction. We have just thousands of dollars, but we have one thing more powerful if we harness the energy; the power of one-on-one communication. People Power!
As I was delivering my route last Saturday, I saw a familiar face walking down the street toward me with a clipboard in his hand. It was my friend Mark, and he was out canvassing the neighborhood and knocking on doors doing this good work for Schauer and Peters. A retired school teacher and a committed union and community activist, I asked him how it was going. He answered me quite frankly, “I really don’t like doing this knocking on doors thing, but I know I have to.” He knows he has to. And we have to. We cannot put the burden of doing this important, uncomfortable work strictly on the shoulders of folks like Mark. The stakes are too high. One person speaking up makes more noise than a thousand people who remain silent.
Photo: John Dick (courtesy of Jacqueline Dick)