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12/01/2016
So... What's next?
I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!
Aaron Meyer

The following letter was published in our July 2016 issue of "Hoosier Motorcyclist" magazine, and we thought it was important to share with all of you. Aaron Meyer is the son of Mike and Roberta Meyer, long-time members of ABATE who have held almost every position in the organization. Mike is currently the State LINC Director and Indiana Tour Director, Roberta is currently the Indiana MRF State Representative. Aaron was raised in ABATE from the very beginning, is currently Region 13 Assistant Director, a certified motorcycle safety instructor, and has a very wise perspective about an issue that affects all organizations such as ours... How do we maintain members and convince other to take responsibility for their own future by getting involved.  Please read this with an open mind and give it some thought.

 

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Alright, Region 13 sit down and strap in, this is going to be a long one. It might shake something up, it might ruffle some feathers, and it might even make someone mad, and that's okay. I'm going to take a line directly from a movie called Network. I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!

 

What is “this”? I'm talking about the accelerating decline of our membership numbers. It's weighed heavy on me for a few months. I'm talking the type of heavy weight that interferes with sleep. After thinking about it, and mulling it over and over in my head, an idea started to coalesce, and the more I thought about it the clearer it became. The clearer it became, the madder I got. 

 

You, and I, and 14 Regions worth of ABATE members “done screwed up”. Somewhere between 2006 and now, we started taking “no” for an answer. Things got tough for a few years and all of a sudden excuses for not being a member of ABATE became stock-in-trade. For some damn reason, we all started to believe them. All of them, not just the earnest reasons, but the B.S. as well. It's the very same B.S. that we used to be able to cut through and gain some members.

 

I don't know exactly how it happened, but I have a couple of guesses. One of those guesses involves that party in July. The Boogie used to draw a whole bunch of our members. We expected that to continue and we got complacent. Well, now almost nobody shows up to The Boogie. Expenditures are high and returns are low to non-existent. So there's a debate about the hows and why and the how-to-fixs of that event. All that debate is, is a Band-Aid on a gunshot. Motorcycling can live without a Boogie, but it can't survive without ABATE of Indiana. Some party isn't going to recruit a worthwhile number of members anymore. Those days are over. 

 

It's on us to stop laying down and taking it. It's time for us to get out there and recruit. If we aren't recruiting, we're paying the way for other motorcyclists. We're shouldering the work. We're doing more than our monetary share. They're riding on our dime. Doesn't that piss you off? It should piss you off. It pisses me off!

 

Well guess what? It's time to let the non-members know that you're working hard for them, they aren't working at all for themselves, and that it's time for them to contribute to their own freedom. To do that, you have to know the issues. You have to know what you've been paying for. You have to know the freedoms that they should be paying for. Otherwise, you're going to come across like a dogmatic lunatic. I'm going to make it easy for you. I'm going to spell this out. This is the list of motorcycle freedoms you have thanks to ABATE of Indiana. It's going allow you to get straight to the point. “If you've ever done X, you've been riding on my dime, here's your membership application.”

 

  • Ridden without a helmet
  • Ridden without eye protection 
  • Ridden without a reflective vest 
  • Ridden in a group larger than three
  • Ridden a bike with ape hangers
  • Modified your engine in any way
  • Modified your drive train in any way
  • Modified your transmission in any way
  • Modified your exhaust in any way
  • Modified your suspension in any way
  • Put non-OEM tires on your bike
  • Worked on your own motorcycle
  • Had someone who wasn't an authorized dealer/service provider work on your motorcycle
  • Purchased, considered purchasing, or gone for a ride in a Polaris Slingshot or other autocycle
  • Turned left at a poorly calibrated red light
  • Ridden in HOV lanes in any state
  • Enjoyed the same road rights as other motor vehicles
  • Have motorcycle insurance through State Farm
  • Never dealt with motorcycle only checkpoints
  • Got a motorcycle endorsement without mandatory safety training
  • Received your motorcycle endorsement without taking the AltMOST
  • Enjoyed motorcycle safety training at an affordable price
  • Not paid a $10 motorcycle only tax on each motorcycle registration
  • Enjoyed the protections of “moped” registration
  • Enjoyed having to pay for a motorcycle endorsement once for life instead of with every license renewal
  • Ridden dirt bikes on state land with a friend from out of state

 

There's the list. When we encounter a non-member motorcyclist that has done just one of those things (and there are a few that they have to have done, just by riding a motorcycle) they're indebted to ABATE and should be joining.

 

Then we're going to encounter some B.S. regarding reasons not to join. Don't get distracted by issues that are vaguely related to actual motorcycling and stop taking no for an answer. We're to the point where taking no for an answer is now unacceptable.

 

The two things you're going to hear most from those reluctant to join are the cost and the time commitment. Membership is $0.07 per day. Disgusting convenience store coffee starts at $0.79, over ten times the daily membership cost. A Netflix subscription runs $0.29 cents per day. Membership dues can be paid by being on the clock for about 5 minutes a day, and that's accounting for weekends off, while being paid minimum wage. Stop taking no for an answer.

 

“I work a bunch of weekends, so I'll never make it to events” is something that I've heard before. The same goes for nights, swing shift, and 24 hour shifts. ABATE of Indiana isn't an events organization. We're a rights organization. The rights of the motorcyclist are enjoyed every time a leg is swung over a saddle, no matter the day of the week, or hour of the day. Stop taking no for an answer. 

 

Finally, as important as not taking no for an answer, is for members to stop making excuses for why others can't or won't join. Armchair economists are going to point to the housing market fiasco that depressed the economy in 2008. That might have had an impact, but if it were the real reason, our numbers would've rebounded along with the economy. You can tell that excuse is a crock because our numbers are lower than they were in 2008, 2009, and they continue to drop. There are a billion other excuses that our members try to use as rationale for declining numbers. The fact is that we're not in the business of a billion other things. We're in the business of one thing; freedom for Hoosier motorcyclists.

 

Taking no for an answer is bad, I've said that, but making no a viable answer (making excuses for other people) is, and I'm saying this the nicest way I can, utterly contemptible. How did we, the members who know better, ever let that excuse making start and continue without reproach? I don't know, but we did. The fact that we did is almost as bad as the excuse making. I let it happen as much as the next person did. However, that ends today. No more taking no, and no more accepting excuses from members. I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!

 

Many people think that we're living in a more politically correct world than we were not that long ago, and many people have a problem with that. This letter and it's blunt stance is about 15% less P.C. than I usually am. Maybe our recruitment tactics could stand to be more blunt and 15% less P.C. Maybe that will shake somebody out of their hubris enough that they won't even offer no as an answer. Maybe we should start handing out the list of rights I covered with membership applications. Whatever we have to do, we should all get mad as hell, and none of us should take this anymore.

 

Till next issue,

 

Aaron Meyer

Assistant Director, Region 13

 

P.S. If anyone wants that list of rights, shoot me an e-mail, and I'll be glad to provide it. My contact information is listed at the front of the magazine.

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