How the Hacking of My Brother’s Twitter Account Saved Me an Hour-Long Wait in the Hot Sun

A tale of poor memory, computer hacking, and kitchen renovation.

The other day, I wrote a typically long and drawn out blog post that was eventually about riding my motorcycle for the first time in years. Somewhere near the end, I bragged:

But what really surprised me is the way my hands and feet seemed to go into auto-pilot mode. My right hand and foot automatically moved to the brake lever and pedal to apply just the right amount of pressure for braking. My left hand and foot automatically moved to the clutch lever and gearshift to change gears smoothly. Balance comes naturally, even in the gravel parking lot at the RV park.

Muscle memory, pure and simple. Unfortunately, today proved that my other memory isn’t nearly as good.

My friend Pete picked me up at my temporary home in Wenatchee Heights and drove me to Quincy where my motorcycle was still parked. I needed to get it up to the orchard near where I’m living.

I’d ridden the bike from Quincy to Wenatchee and Chelan on Sunday, putting about 155 miles on it after filling the fuel tank. I honestly couldn’t remember how many miles I could go on a tank of gas, but had vague memories of a low fuel light and figured that would warn me when it was time to fill up.

Those vague memories were not quite right. Maybe the low fuel light is on my Ducati, but it certainly isn’t on my Yamaha. I’d just come through Wenatchee and was on my way up Squilchuck Road when the engine started running rough. I was almost to a stop sign when the engine died. I coasted to the curb and popped the fuel tank. I rocked the bike back and forth. I didn’t see a drop of fuel in there.

The trip odometer read 191 miles.


I called AAA. I’m a member, primarily for the hotel discounts, which definitely pay for the membership each year. I connected with the Arizona office; they transferred me to the Washington office. I admitted my stupidity to the guy who took my call. I spent five minutes helping him figure out where I was — evidently, the names of the two streets on the street sign right over my head wasn’t enough for him. Then I answered multiple questions about my motorcycle: did it have a windscreen, saddlebags, sidecar; what color was it; what was its engine size? (All this info just to bring me a gallon of gas?) After all that, he promised that someone would come within an hour. If someone didn’t come by then, I should call back.

I thanked him and hung up. The last time I’d requested service, it had taken 90 minutes.

It was sunny and hot. I was in a brand new subdivision and there were no mature trees. There was a telephone pole, though, and I stood in its shade — or at least tried to. I had, of course, already stripped off my denim jacket and helmet.

To pass the time, I fired up the Twitter app on my phone and tweeted:

Duh. My motorcycle only goes 190 miles on a tank of gas. Waiting for AAA.

Hey, if you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

I scrolled through the tweets in my timeline and was shocked to see one from my brother, @chefnorb, who never tweets:

Im tooo laaaaazy to go to work today!! I WANT TO BE LIKE HER:[redacted]

I didn’t have to click the link to realize what had happened. I tweeted:

@chefnorb I suspect you’ve been hacked.

Of course, if he had been hacked, he’d never see the tweet. He really never uses Twitter. So since I had all that time on my hands, I shifted position to stay in the ever-shifting shade of the telephone pole and called his cell phone.

“I think your Twitter account was hacked,” I told him.

“Yeah?” he replied.

“Did you tweet something today?” I asked.


“It’s definitely hacked.” I read him the tweet.

“Sounds like something I might say. I am feeling pretty lazy today.” He went on to tell me about the kitchen renovation at his house that was almost done after two months of hard work. He told me his wife was out of town on business and that he had to dust drywall remains out of the whole house and clean all the sawdust out of the backyard.

I told him I was still in Washington and that I’d just moved for my last contract. I told him about picking up my motorcycle and how I’d run out of gas. I told him I was waiting for AAA.

“How about the reserve tank?” he asked.

Crap. I’d forgotten all about that.

Motorcycles usually have a reserve tank setting. You twist the fuel control knob and it pulls fuel from lower down in the tank. It’s designed for situations just like mine — riding until out of gas. There’s always a quart or so left in reserve. At 50 mpg, that quart can get you pretty far.

Sure, I remembered how to ride the damn bike. I’d just forgotten everything else about it.

I was anxious to try it and didn’t want to waste any time (or gas) once I’d started the engine. So I thanked him, hung up, stowed my jacket (it was really hot), and put on my helmet. I twisted the fuel setting knob and started up. It ran like a charm. I made a U-turn and headed back into town.

It wasn’t until after I topped off the tank that I called AAA to cancel the call.

And it wasn’t until I got back to my RV that I tweeted:

Double-duh. My motorcycle has a reserve tank. Cancelled that AAA call.

4 thoughts on “How the Hacking of My Brother’s Twitter Account Saved Me an Hour-Long Wait in the Hot Sun

  1. Very entertaining ;-) It’s really interesting how we forget facts, such as the reserve tank, but remember actions, such as actually riding the bike. An unusual, indirect ‘use’ for Twitter!

  2. Just remember to switch back off the reserve tank.

    I see your duh and raise you running out /again/, but with no reserve this time :)

  3. Know this is an older post, but just have to share.

    About a year ago, I took the Motorcycle Safety Foundation beginning rider course. I’d been riding bicycles for years, but never motorcycles, so I figured I should get some training. I had borrowed a bike from a friend and rode it around the neighborhood a bit, but nothing else. The course is one evening of classroom instruction, then two days of half classroom and half riding, ending with a riding test. Everything went fine up to test. I was about to start it, and my engine dies. Not the first time this had happened, I did my usual tricks to get it started again, no dice. I’m freaking out, thinking that I’m going to have to do the test on a completely unfamiliar. I wave over an instructor, he asks about the reserve lever. Oh. Right. Duh.

What do you think?