Ray Macken Pro Surprise
Those fucking speed humps. They installed new speed humps near my place that are high enough to slow down a tank. I brake hard for the first one and notice the flash of a warning light on my dash. “What the fuck was that?” I brake hard again for the next speed hump. “Fuck, Oil light”. I thought about checking that yesterday but never got around to it.
Damn, I’m already running late. I pull over on the side of the old highway. Grab the oil from the boot and pop the hood. The rain is exploding into tiny puffs of steam when it hits the hot engine. Fill er up, shut the hood, let’s go. Wait, Swamp Road is probably flooded from all this rain. Have to go the long way round. Fuck.
Ten minutes late by the time I get to Jamberoo skate park. 15 minutes late by the time I pick up Saxon, Jimmy, Hamish and Jack brady. Jack claims shotgun over the youngens. “Woah your drink bottle leaked” claimed Jack as he lifts his feet out of a puddle residing on the floor of my car. “Nah, my car just leaks when it rains. Here chuck this on it”. I throw a rag at his feet as we peel out of the car park towards the pass.
5:45. Two hours and thirty minutes to get to Canberra by 8:15. Google maps says two hours and forty minutes and we still need to stop for coffee and breaky. Fuck it, I’ll make up some time on the Hume. Slow and steady up the pass, my tyres aren’t the best. Wet and dark. “Jack your on Wombat watch. Eyes peeled man”.
Make it through the highlands in record time. Dawn on a wet Saturday morn. Deadly quiet.
Quick stop for shit coffee and processed McMuffins. I can’t work these damn screens. Fuck it, I’m going vintage, get the teenager to take my order. She runs it up but some of the sums don’t add up, oh well no time, that’ll do. Back on the tarmac and I realise, she fucked up, sausage McMuffin, bugger I was looking forward to that slice of swine. That’s what you get when you rely on a business run by children.
Rain is easing, push on
As we near the capital city I ask Jack to punch in the address. He works his fingers over the screen and gives me an ETA. Shit, we might actually do this.
Yadsy (Dave Adams) was pretty clear. “Be there by 8:15”. Previously it was 9, then 8:30. 8:15 was pushing it. Shoulda left earlier.
As we roll into Braddon, we see the spot and start looking for a secluded car park. Can’t let the car be sighted, its too identifiable with all these stickers. Skate stickers are like gang colours, you gotta throw em out there to show your credentials. But now I need to hide em like gang tats. Reversed into a shady spot between a four-wheel drive and a dilapidated food truck with flat tyres. “Let’s go lads”. Quick piss behind the food truck and head for the spot.
Walking along on high alert, looking over our shoulders like we got something to hide. When we get to Trilogy Skate Shop its completely dark, but I spy a hint of movement. Yadsy sticks his head out of the door “what are yous doing, get in here”.
He ushes us towards the back. Hard to make anything out, just the familiar shapes of skateboards, shoes and clothing racks. Now we see them. Hoods, hats and beanies moving around behind the apparel. The whites of their teeth visible from their childish grins. Giggling and joking like school boys hiding from the consequence.
We quickly make our way down to join them, momentarily glancing at Joel Hunter whose hiding amongst a row of hoodies, VX poking out ready to film the action. As we join the ensemble, we are handed party poppers, blowers and some skateboards. That’s when the whole situation truly hit me. I look down at the board, even in the dark I could still clearly make out the graphic on the board. And the name. Macken.
Little Ray who is now big Ray was about to be turned pro. Surprised with his first pro models from the dark depths of this beautiful little slice of skateboarding. I’ve known Ray since he was a child and even early on, we all knew this day would come. Now I’m hyped. I’m as giddy as the rest of this mischievous horde. “He’s coming, he’s coming”
We crouch even lower. At first, we spy (Jarrod) Agnew, walking a few paces ahead of Ray. Struggling to keep a straight face. Nothing poker about it. Ray has no idea though; he looks in the darkened glass windows but nothing registers. As he walks in the scene explodes. The lights come on and all hell opens up. The sounds of a children’s birthday party mixed with the hoots and hollers of the unrefined. The boards are held high, reflective light bouncing of the plastic coverings in all directions. For a second Ray is stunned like a roo caught in the headlights on the Hume. Flight or fight. Not sure whether to run or punch the first intruder.
Then it dawns on him. That smile didn’t leave his face for the rest of the day. A lifetime of working towards a goal that is suddenly laid in his hands. The cacophony of confusion remains as handshakes turn into hugs and enough merry good cheer to give saint nick a heart attack.
Ray was truly surprised, “I had no idea”. I’m not sure how the guys pulled it off. Anyone who has tried to organise skaters knows how insane it is to get a whole crowd to a single location, in secret before 8:15AM. So, hats off to everyone involved, Yadsy, Agnew, the Trilogy guys and of course Steve McInnes of FSC for pulling this whole thing off. You now have a qualification in herding cats.
Then amidst the maelstrom of photos, boards being exchanged and stories of almost failed punctuality a strange voice comes over the buildings PA system. At first no one notices. Far too much stimuli flooding our feeble brains. Slowly a few start to pay attention then it filters through the crowd. “Shit, we need to evacuate the building” Fucks given, we slowly move out into the drizzle of the street. It can’t be that bad a fire, its raining, right? Conversations and congratulations continue onto the pavement unabated.
The jokes and back slapping rage on with way too much enthusiasm for this hour on a Saturday morn. The buildings residents are now all out on the street too, completely confused by the situation and even more dumbfounded by this strange gaggle of misfits, wide eyed and boisterous.
The alarm subsides and so has the rain, turning skateboarders into meteorologists studying rain radars and making bold predictions of dry ground. The decision is made to head to Belco. Fast drying, forgiving concrete awaits. The horde moves out. As fast and as furious as the commotion was created it diminishes and the quite street assumes its regular Saturday morning programming.
The high energy tumbled into the park and the lads get fired up. An impromptu demo ensues. A celebration of skateboarding at its finest. One of those unique moments that only a wooden toy enthusiast would understand.
Then it was time to bid adieu with more handshakes turning into hugs and long steps that needed to be retraced.