My former co-worker and good friend, Rod Steiner, passed away on August 5, 2022. We were alike in many ways. Rod’s sense of humor was right up there with mine.
We’d both had several skirmishes with the law in our younger days where obeying traffic laws on motorcycles was concerned. Rod and I often told our stories over lunch and always got a hoot recalling them. Life wasn’t taken as seriously back then by either of us.
Rod had one unfortunate experience that I suppose he would’ve liked to have avoided. Him and his older brother, Keith, had just finished building a turbocharged, methanol-fuel-burning Yamaha. My friend elected to road test it first. He was just wicking the throttle up on a stretch of asphalt when a radar unit nabbed him doing 70 in a 45. The officer immediately turned on his lights.
Eluding police on a motorcycle in Anchorage back in the day was easy to do. There were so many places to pull off the road and disappear into tight alleys or thick woods. It was common procedure. Rod was looking to do just that when a State of Alaska – Fish & Wildlife pickup truck pulled directly in front of him. The fish cops overheard things taking place on their police radio and decided to intervene.
Rod hit the brakes yet couldn’t stop, smashing into their driver side door. His Yamaha was pretty much totaled. Besides suffering a broken leg, he had to pay a hefty fine, plus cough up funds for damages to the truck. Rod believed the fish cops went to extreme measures to stop him.
I had similar instances but fortunately never had an accident in the process. Rod, knowing that I liked to write, jokingly mentioned that a book should be written about my escapades. When I said that I didn’t have sufficient material for a whole book unlike him, Rod’s answer was, “Give it due time!”
We even came up with a humorous name for our brainstorm, “You Don’t Know Squat!” This was a popular saying used quite often back then. Squat was a nickname we had for several people, including ourselves. I think for us it was more of a nickname for Sasquatch. Rod and I both had reddish hued beards during this time.
This all happened some forty years ago. It’s taken me that long to archive enough material to place between book covers. Having not talked to Rod for at least ten years, I was just getting ready to write him, when word came of his unexpected death. I wanted to inform my friend of a story in the book explicitly written about him and me. There was one additional item.
When Rod’s father passed away in 2003, I stopped by his parent’s home as he searched through things in the garage. Inside one of his dad’s high school yearbooks was written in fading ink: “All great men are dead. I’m not feeling too well myself!” Rod chuckled, mentioning that it was his father’s handwriting.
We saw great humor in the words, and it became our motto of sorts, not contemplating that it actually had serious meaning. I liked it so much that I decided to add Mark Twain’s attributed quote to the last page of my book.
Sadly, and ironically, the Friday I did so is the exact day my friend departed this life. Once humorous words instantly took on deeper meaning. Older and wiser have a way of changing thoughts. It did mine!