The 1960’s epic Star Trek coined many a phrase now in common parlance, even if they’re often misquoted. "It's life Jim, but not as we know it" even formed the rather catchy verse of a 1987 song. Admit it, you’re singing it in your head right now, aren’t you?
For me, these words really do sum up life over the last few weeks as we deal with the pandemic that has stopped drivers and riders everywhere from using their vehicles, enjoying the freedom of the open road and in many cases indulging in their passion for driving and riding.
While the sun has shone in the UK, cars and motorcycles have been cleaned and polished to within an inch of their lives, paintbrushes have flown furiously across doors and walls, and gardens have been neatly manicured, ready for summer.
But if the Coronavirus wasn’t around right now, what would I be doing in my role as an Area Service Delivery Manager (ASDM) for IAM RoadSmart?
Well, this is normally a busy time for IAM RoadSmart and our team of seven ASDMs, working regionally across the UK. Not only are we the first point of contact for our 180+ car and motorcycle groups, we also deal with all Masters testing, National Observer car and bike assessments, our popular Skills Days and those immortal words… “anything else” our Head of Field Services Amanda Smith asks of us… and to which the answer is always “yes”!
There is always plenty to do and with 24 groups in my own region (Region 1) there is always an email or 10 in the inbox asking questions about group-related matters or pending assessments. How strange to be living in a world where our on-road activities are all suspended and our groups can only meet online.
By this time of the year in any normal year motorcycles kept inside for the winter months start emerging and their riders are ready to refresh their skills again. Masters motorcycle assessments start to take off again as the weather shakes off the grip of winter, for those who are proud to achieve and maintain the highest possible civilian standards of riding. Our ASDM diaries fill up quickly as riders prepare for what I always tell them is their day. I’m just there to admire what they do by demonstration and enjoy the ride. The perfect ride has yet to be invented and at the end of the assessment, we both enjoy discussing every nuance of our 50 miles riding together. The learning never stops for any of us, nor should it.
My work as an ASDM means I get to spend time with others who are as passionate as I am about driving and riding and that makes my job personally rewarding. After being lucky enough to spend a large part of my career in traffic policing because I quite simply loved everything about cars and motorcycles, I enjoy working today with all our fantastic IAM RoadSmart volunteer observers who share a desire to help others be the best they can in their driving or riding, and to have fun doing it.
I got my first taste of IAM RoadSmart life when working on Bikesafe and to still be doing a similar thing years later is fantastic. If I can just save one life by my actions, it is all worthwhile. And I know our observers and members feel the same way.
We would normally be running the first Skills Days for the 2020 season at Thruxton about now, a great circuit and always popular with our drivers and riders. The boxes of new kit are standing proud in my garage ready to go. But not just yet.
They say it is only when something is taken away that you realise the value of it. We will come out the other side of this, ready and raring to go and when we do, I will continue to enjoy all my role as an ASDM has to offer. Until then, stay positive, stay safe.
By Shaun Cronin, Regional Service Delivery Manager (Southern), IAM RoadSmart