He introduced himself improbably as Rob Roy MacGregor and he claimed to be an outdoor advertising specialist. What he was, more generally, though, was a guy who’d found a way to let his hobby and his passion pay for the necessities of life.
It was Saturday afternoon and I was walking across Knoxville’s market square, an area in the middle of downtown full of shops and restaurants and book stores, looking to vet a place for a business dinner I was planning to host that night, when I saw a character pushing a bicycle that was pulling a wheeled sign for the very place I sought. I asked him for directions and he insisted on showing me how to get there in person. Along the way he shared his own business plan and, with it, his philosophy of life. Specifically, he said he rode bicycles long distances to bring media attention to causes and clients.
He’d ridden from New York to Chicago for one corporate sponsor, from Seattle to Austin for another.
Halfway to our destination we met one of his bike-riding cohorts, this one wearing a standard business suit and on his way to do something responsible. MacGregor, or whatever his real name was, invited his friend into our conversation and the guy corroborated the stories of the first, having been along for some of them.
I was wondering how much advertising such as he offered was worth when he began pitching his friend on a three-month coast-to-coast quest and quoted a figure I wouldn’t have thought possible to survive that length of time on while stationary, much lest use to cross the country. The friend was as skeptical as I was, the difference being he said so, but MacGregor seemed undeterred. He’d find someone else. Whatever he owed his namesake of some 300 years past, determination and dedication to his cause lay among them.
What he liked to do was ride, and he was content to take what it paid, so long as it kept his wheels turning. There’s a lesson in that somewhere. A lesson, and honor to boot.
Kevin Tate is V.P. of Media Productions for Mossy Oak in West Point.