Career day, plus one year By Ron Lawson
A week later I walked into class in
full riding gear, pushing a minibike
with a stack of magazines on the
seat. “What is that?” asked the VP.
“It’s a Honda CRF110F,” I said. “It’s
an appropriate machine for kids this
age. I could have brought a Suzuki
LT90 ATV, but it would have been
hard to push up the steps.” I waited
for some response. Only a mute stare
came. “I wouldn’t be able to ride it up
because I drained the gas,” I offered.
The policeman in the room looked
at me carefully. I hoped I had never
met him before, but I wasn’t sure.
At times I have had disagreements
about what constitutes a legal riding
area in my town. The doctor had a
blank expression. I’m almost certain I
After some quiet discussion
amongst the staff, I was allowed to
set up in a room with my magazines,
my minibike and my notes. I planned
on talking about a career in writing.
I planned on giving the kids a clear
image of the kind of background
needed for a career in journalism,
about the need for a well-rounded
education and about the duties of an
editor. That’s not exactly how it went.
All the kids were waving their
hands in the air immediately. “How
fast does it go?”
“Well, it doesn’t actually have a
speedometer…” I stammered.
“My brother has one like that and
it’ll do a hundred!” said another kid.
The questions came all at once.
“Have you ever done a backflip?”
“I’ve been to Glamis!”
“Can I sit on it?”
“Can I ride it?”
“Does your son ride?”
I tried to regain control. “Actually,
my son has helped me test several
ATVs. Here’s a picture of him in the
magazine.” All the kids turned to
face my kid. He was glowing.
“Perhaps you should talk about
safety equipment,” intervened the
“Good idea,” I said. “As you can
see, I have a helmet here and I’m
wearing very big boots…”
“Would you feel it if I kicked you in
the shins?” asked a particularly big
“Well, probably not,” I said, nervously.
He got up. I stepped backward.
“Now, now,” said the VP. “Let’s not
act like savages. Anyone who wants
to kick Mr. Lawson will have to stand
in an orderly line.”
That was one year ago. Since
then, I’ve noticed a few slight chang-
es at the school. On casual Friday,
when the kids don’t have to wear
their uniforms, I’ve spotted a few
more Glamis shirts than before.
Some of the kids have been picked
up by moms and dads in pickups
that clearly have been used to haul
ATVs. And I’m not sure about this,
but rumor has it that the vice principal even ventured into the dirt in
a friend’s UTV. Whether that’s true
or not, her attitude seems to have
softened somewhat. I’m not saying
that I’m responsible for any of this,
but I think the school, as a whole, has
become more dirt-friendly in the last
Still, I should point out, I wasn’t
invited back for this year’s Career
❏ It was one year ago last week. I
stood in front of a bunch of grade-
school kids in full riding gear, hold-
ing copies of Dirt Wheels magazine,
indoctrinating a new generation to
the world of ATV riding.
The school staff was speechless. I
don’t think they knew exactly what
they had signed up for. I had picked
up my kid from his school the pre-
vious week when the vice principal
flagged me down. “Your son tells
me you’re a magazine editor, is that
“Yes ma’am,” I stammered. To
this day, anyone with the title “vice
principal” scares me. I went to mid-
dle school in the South where there
was a paddle with the name “Fang”
hanging from the VP’s wall. I can still
hear the whistling sound it made,
slicing through the air. I flinched a
little with the memory.
“For which magazine do you
work?” she asked. Proper English
also intimidates me.
“I work for a small publishing company that has several titles,” I said.
“Wonderful,” she beamed. “That
sounds like exactly what we need.
Would you be willing to participate
in Career Day? We’ll have several
parents with interesting occupations
making presentations. We have a
doctor, a policeman and a diversification engineer signed up so far,”
she paused for a moment. I could tell
that she didn’t know what a “
diversification engineer” was, either. “I
would be so grateful if you would
come as well.” I nodded, dumbly.
You just don’t say no to the VP.