In our post-apocalyptic economy, it seems that retailers are attempting to rediscover the lost art of customer service. Nowhere was this more evident than on sales floors across America this past holiday shopping season. I was greeted into submission by “associates” and “team members” who were obviously acting on directives from the customer service department HQ.

Before it was a department, customer service actually helped customers with any number of issues or concerns they may have with the products or services they purchased. There was a time when how a company handled a problem was the measure of its mettle. Today, some customer service departments rely heavily on “The Survey” for this task. The Survey is a tool used to piss off the customer after they’ve already had a bad experience, so things can be made better for future customers, if any are forthcoming. I can’t remember a time that I have been asked more regarding how I feel about the service I’ve received by people who really couldn’t care less. Naturally, my wrath is not directed at your multi-award-winning, voted-best-in-the-industry, would-you-like-another-donut-we’re-almost-finished customer service department—just your competitor down the road.

The acme of recent survey responses one can receive has been “meets or exceeds expectations.” This can also be applied to one’s annual review, but that’s another story. Meeting or exceeding expectations, or MEE for short, distills the passion and emotion out of a positive experience and makes it measureable, for surveys’ sake—i.e., “It was the most beautiful road ever, elevation changes, switchbacks, no potholes,” becomes measureable when reduced to a response of Meets or Exceeds Expectations. This response is usually found at the far right of the survey and after figuring out that’s as good as it gets, you check it if you’re a happy camper.

It occurred to me during the last survey I took that MEE is exactly how I will respond the next time someone asks me why I ride. Every single time I ride, even the times that have ended with broken parts on me, the bike or others, has scored a solid MEE. Bad weather, mechanical failure and bad company can’t even ruin the chance of the experience scoring an MME.

Other things in life aren’t as predictable. Garbagemen do not get a MEE score from me. After they’ve sacked my neighborhood at 4:00 a.m., my recycling bins are often strewn randomly on the street. What we don’t do to preserve Mother Earth. The Department of Transportation has routinely given me more potholes than I expect, which in an abstract way could score an MEE. My cell phone rarely scores an MEE for phone call clarity and quality, but it does take remarkable pictures for a device of its size.

Sports teams and even man’s best friend have a tough time living up to MEE standards. Just last week my dear dog Samson tried to jump out the window of our home. One problem with this unpredictable action was that the window was on the second floor; the second, more problematic, issue was that the window was closed. The result was, predictably, a broken window. Unpredictably, the dog was uninjured. A storm panel probably saved him from a ghastly end, as well as whatever he was after. This kind of behavior is one rare example of how Samson does not always meet my or exceed my expectations. But he comes close, bless his heart.

I hope you find that you “Strongly Agree” with my opinion about motorcycling meeting or exceeding your expectations regularly. I’ve always been at a loss for a good answer to the “Why do you Ride?” question and it’s kind of quirky to take a term like MEE that is devoid of emotion and use it to describe one of life’s most emotional offerings—motorcycling. If you find that you feel “Neutral” about this issue, that you “Somewhat Disagree” or heaven forbid, “Strongly Disagree,” you may want to take up another pastime, or contact our customer service department.



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