So Sturgis, South Dakota is going right on ahead with its annual motorcycle rally, Coronavirus be damned. The expectation is that approximately 250,000 people will be descending on this town of 7000. Masks are encouraged but not mandatory and social distancing, well, that won’t be possible.
Crazy and crazy making.
I first heard of the Sturgis rally thirty six years ago. I had a (regrettable) job working in the inspection department of a video and motion picture postproduction facility.
My first two kids wouldn’t be here had I not taken that job as I met their father there. I also wonder if I might not have cancer.
There were three of us in the inspection department. Me, Marie and some cowgirl whose name I no longer recall. What I do remember is that she dyed her hair red, reeked of cigarettes, and sported long, acrylic nails. She was also a biker–rode a big three wheeler–and I heard an earful about Sturgis.
But back to her nails. Part of our job was to clean the film before it was shipped and this was accomplished by bathing it in vats of trichloroethylene. Although the solvent came to the facility in big barrels festooned with a skull and crossbones, it had not yet been declared a carcinogen.
Marie was the senior member of our crew and my friend the cowgirl was not about to risk her nails by sticking her hands in the trichloroethylene. So what about gloves? Well, we didn’t wear those. Or masks. And there was no proper ventilation system.
So that left me, Linnea. I still recall the way my arms would feel after being immersed in the bath. That, and something called a degreaser’s flush.
I might have worked there longer but I became pregnant with my first child. And even if I was not as concerned with my own health as I should have been, I was terrified per the possibility of birth defects and did everything I could to find out information. That wasn’t easy, as the internet was not yet available.
There’s much more to this story, but fortunately my time in the inspection department was relatively brief. However I’ll never be a fan of Sturgis, acrylic nails, or selfish people.
And just remember, those 250,000 people are all from somewhere. And whatever they catch in Sturgis, they’ll be bringing back home with them.