When Renie was a young teenager, she worshiped her older brother. Willing to do anything to get his attention, she would follow him around endlessly, much to his irritation. The year he moved away after graduating high school left her impatiently waiting for his infrequent visits back home. On one such visit, he returned proudly riding his brand-new motorcycle.

Now Renie was not an extremely adventurous fourteen-year-old. She owned an active imagination and could always mentally conjure up the disastrous results of a scheme, and that tendency usually kept her walking the straight and narrow. Until that fateful day her brother asked her if she wanted to quit walking. He asked her if she would like to learn to ride his new motorcycle.

Never been on a motorcycle before. Fairly cowardly by nature. Intelligent enough to foresee and fear possible consequences. But eager to please her brother and keep his undivided attention. All ingredients of a recipe for disaster.

But she faked her enthusiasm and quickly found herself being deposited astride the shiny black beast that was idling in the driveway. Then with the rapidity of a machine gun Donnie’s instructions started coming. “This lever controls the blah, blah, blah.” He talked earnestly for quite a while, but she never comprehended a word. Her brain had frozen in fear, and he might as well have been speaking Chinese to her. His words rolled off her brain like water streaming over a duck’s back.

Finally, he said the dreaded word, “Ready?” She did have enough presence of mind to finally open her mouth to try to tell him she didn’t understand what he had said. But she hesitated one second too long before admitting her fear and ignorance. Taking her silence for understanding, her brother excitedly yelled “Okay, here ya go!” and released the brake.

Big problem.

Yes, she did at least have her hands on the handlebars…tightly clenched. So tightly clenched that she must have had her hands rolled toward her body. To this day, Renie can’t really remember how it all happened, but suffice it to say that the motorcycle shot forward and she remembers screaming and holding on for all she was worth. Of course, holding on to the rolled handlebars only meant more power. In a matter of seconds, the front wheel was off the ground and she was barreling toward the fence, angled upwards at what felt like a 90-degree angle. Still screaming her lungs out. She could vaguely hear Donnie yelling at her to “Hit the brake!” but that did no good, because she hadn’t understood where it was located! He caught up to her as she finally crashed, with the right handlebar jammed into her side.

Lesson learned? Renie: “Speak up if someone is trying to teach you and you are not comprehending. Before it is too late!” Donnie’s lesson? “Just because you teach it, doesn’t necessarily mean it was understood.”

Make certain. For everyone’s sake.

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