One sunny Thursday a few weeks ago Brent called me, just as I was heading into the office. “So… EBR shut down, for good,” he said. I could hear the uncertainty on his lips, as if the impossible had just come crashing around him. His dream job had disappeared out from under his feet, over night.
I had no good response, I wanted to convey my sympathy and encouragement all at the same time. I never did find the right thing to say. “I need to leave… like now… he said.” I had dropped him off at work that morning because I didn’t have a vehicle, and needed to use one in town that day, so I was borrowing his. I left work, drove 35 minutes out to his work and picked him up. I hugged him. It was the last time he set foot on that test track. Within an hour he received calls from everyone in the industry, from old bosses to fellow employees calling to check on him. He was in a sort of state of shock, not emotional per say, but unable to really convey his emotion. I knew he was a mess, even while he seemed calm. Some 160 engineers and employees at Milwaukee’s/ East Troy’s sport bike factory were now without a job.
“No doubt, it was an incredible ride, feeling like the longest qualifying lap ever,” said EBR’s founder Erik Buell (Erik Buell Racing), founder of the only American sport bike company. Not only had Brent’s job disappeared, but something he had thrown his passion and countless hours into because he believed in it, didn’t make it. As Buell said in a final statement and apology note on their Facebook page, “and, then, just when we knew we were about to set an all-time record, we tossed it in the last corner…”.
The more I get to know Brent, the more I see that his skill and passion never goes un-noticed. The next day he already had a job lined up with his previous employer for the coming two weeks testing bikes in Phoenix. The employer called HIM after hearing the news. But so many decisions still had to be made in a short period of time; so many choices. About a week later he was offered a position with GM, at the same facility he was working before, there he would be working on cars.
Then he received a random email from a headhunter with a potential position in Auburn, Washington. In that position, he’d get to work with sportbikes again. “It’s right next to Seattle, should I apply?” he asked. He’d get to continue doing what he loved, it would be challenging, and it would allow for ample time at the track, doing exactly what he loved doing. “Absolutely!” I said, knowing that Brent needs a little fast lane in his life.
Within two weeks, we were packed onto a flatbed and heading north towards Seattle, Washington. We had no idea where we were going. Neither one of us had ever been there before. I spent two weeks selling the majority of the furniture on Craigslist and what we had left we piled onto a flatbed trailer, hooked up to an F350 pickup that Brent found at the last minute. It towed the corvette and the most basic of our belongings; clothes, (everything in the kitchen I refused to give up) and some basic necessities. Because we couldn’t afford an enclosed trailer, a lot of our stuff was stored at my parents’; they were kind enough to offer their space.
We drove into the night and spent our first night about six hours up into California, in our pickup. The second night we caved and stayed in a Motel 6 because it was dog friendly, cheap, and Brent really needed at least one full night’s sleep. Hank of course had come along on our adventure, we’d made him a little corner in the back seat with his dog bed. He’d watched me move more than once before and knew what piling a house in boxes and the sharp sound of ripping tape meant. He oversaw all of the packing the previous weeks with a heavyhearted sadness, unnerved by the slowly settling uncertainty.
We arrived in Auburn, Washington on Wednesday night and drove around without a clue of where we should go first. It was 7pm and raining. We stopped at a park for a moment to let Hank out and sort out our next plan. We had no idea where to go. For the following three nights we stayed in hotels in the area. I’d never stayed at a hotel with a larger sized dog before, but thanks to www.BringFido.com I was able to find a comfortable stay with Hank at each one, for a small extra fee. By Saturday we signed a lease on a cozy little apartment and moved in with our few boxes. Now, still without a bed, tables, couches, shelves or dressers we have settled into our little apartment, so far from the desert we know. We can sit on our patio in camping chairs in the cool air and breathe in the trees surrounding us. We’re definitely not in Arizona anymore, somehow, something was telling us it was time to go.