Stories from a Motorcycle Road Trip

What we can learn about the current state of our economy by traveling and visiting with others outside of our home turf is amazing. For many of us in the investment business, our view of the economy is easily warped by statistical reports and interpretations prepared by professional economists. Even when we do leave our home turf, we often end up somewhere visiting with other individuals who see society through our same set of rose colored glasses. Yet we know the 325 million citizens of the US, from the rich to the poor and all those in-between, are the ones who produce the wealth of this nation.

Getting out and listening to others’ life stories can teach us more about our economy than graphs, statistics and opinions. It can also add to our faith that there is a positive future for all. So I want to share with you the stories of a paint salesman, a widow on disability, a valet, and a veteran.

The Trip

A couple of months ago my wife Kathy found out that the singer and songwriter Joe Jackson was planning a limited concert tour in Canada and the Northeast. Many of you may remember that Kathy has had a lifelong love of music. That love has been inherited by all of our children, though old Dad’s musical talent is unfortunately limited to playing the radio. I can tell you that getting me to attend the numerous concerts throughout the years can come with a price. This time, the price was a motorcycle ride. The concert we chose to attend was being held at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Burlington, Vermont.

The Flynn venue is an intimate 1930s Art Deco theater. Burlington is a city on the shores of Lake Champlain, home of the great sea monster Champ, a cousin to Nessie of Loch Ness. I am fond of Art Deco, and with the added opportunity to see Champ, as well as the beauty of Vermont in summer, I felt this was a fair price to pay for attending the concert. Besides, Joe Jackson, with his days as a punk rocker, his hit songs Steppin’ Out and Is She Really Going Out with Him?, andhis classical compositions would be enjoyable, even for me.