If motorcycles influence your lifestyle, you are part of the motorcycle community. Of all the types of organizations found within that community, the motorcycle club stands apart and ranks highest in stature. A serious M/C commands respect for one or both of two reasons:
Those who are informed recognize the deep level of personal commitment and self-discipline that a person has to demonstrate and sustain in order to wear a patch, so much so that it is akin to being a full time profession for the individual. They realize that a Club's Colors are closely guarded and the membership process is long and difficult. All else put aside, you have to respect the person for what they have accomplished by being able to earn and keep the patch they wear.
Those who are less informed see only the surface of things. They see the vigilance of mutual support. The potential dangers of invoking a response from a well-organized unit that travels in numbers and are always prepared for confrontation. They know that NO ONE CAN PROVOKE ONE CLUB MEMBER WITHOUT HAVING TO ANSWER TO THE ENTIRE CLUB, and that such an answer is a point of honor that must come to the last person. The type of respect that this generates is one that is born out of fear.
The serious motorcycle club will conduct itself publicly in a highly professional manner. They will not go out of their way to cause trouble or to present themselves as an intimidating force without purpose or provocation. Their respect is gained from both of the items cited above.
There are many lesser clubs whose membership is made up of equally lesser individuals. These clubs, without a continual show of strength, would have no respect at all. The majority of these types of clubs are short lived; however, the general public does not draw a distinction between different club colors. If one club causes a problem that touches the public sector, the offending club's identity is either confused or ignored, and heat comes down to suppress all clubs. As a result of this, within a given community, motorcycle clubs will tend to police themselves.
There is also a natural hierarchy that is recognized between motorcycle clubs themselves. The strongest and most established club will assume charge of the particular state in which they ride. This dominant club will for reasons that are beneficial to all:
~ authorize the establishment of new clubs within the state
~ will disband clubs that cause continual problems
~ act as mediators to resolve problems between existing clubs
~ step in and enforce their own solution if the feuding clubs cannot come to terms on their own
~ provide communications links and coordinate intra club events
~ call on the clubs within a state for additional support, if needed, when dealing with a threatening external force.
It is also not uncommon for the dominant club of an area to select some of their prospects from the best of the ranks of the other clubs. In fact some clubs have been established with this sole purpose in mind.
If it were not for the dominant club of a state taking this leadership position, clubs would not enjoy the luxury of putting their time and resources to the benefit of their individual brother or sisterhood. Nor would we enjoy the mobility and freedom of movement that comes with peace and order.
Within the motorcycle club itself, officers are elected to the traditional posts of President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Sergeant at Arms, etc. In addition, you will find the less traditional posts of Road Captain, Enforcer, and WarLord. The Road Captain is responsible for the logistics of effectively moving the club from point A to point B. The Enforcer answers only to the President and sees that the President's orders are carried out. He will also be the one who travels if a problem has to be addressed at a distance. The WarLord is in charge of tactics and strategies in times of stress. In some instances, he is also responsible for the club's security issues. In most clubs, the positions of WarLord and Enforcer are combined and may carry the name of either.
In most cases, the patch holder was a "hang around" for the club for at least a year. Before that, they were a long-standing acquaintance and their attitude and overall conduct was well known. They then prospected for the club from one to two years before they were awarded their patch.
Of all the things in this persons life, their loyalty and commitment to the well being of their club comes first, above family, friends, job, personnel possessions, and personal safety. There is NEVER, REPEAT NEVER, any doubt or time spent on even considering which comes first. The only thing that approaches their commitment to the club is their commitment to their brothers or sisters. But even here, the interest of the club always comes before that of the individual. They know that their family can walk out on them without a second's notice; they can lose their job overnight, even for good; close friends come and go with time. But the club and their brothers or sisters will always be there for them. It is one of the few, if not the only thing, that can be counted on. They know this because they themselves are committed to always being there for them.
To be certain that this ethic and standard of attitude is carried by new members, they participate in conditioning, educating, and at times testing the club's prospects or "prospective members." As such, before they allow another person to wear their colors, as a symbol of their mutual commitment, they will feel certain that the new member brings with them the same loyalty and dedication that they themselves display.
They have the attitude that there are two types of people in the world: their brothers or sisters, and those who are a potential threat to the club. For this reason they will not discuss club related business, membership numbers, the club's movements, or personal information about their brothers or sisters with anyone outside the club. Anything that could possibly be used by anyone to piece together an informative picture of the club is a very serious security issue.
Wearing a patch is more than getting together for good times. It is also getting together in bad times. It constitutes a lot of work. It is committing yourself to a lifestyle in which you do not look for how your brothers or sisters might help you, but ways in which you can be of help to them. You always look to give, but never expect to receive.
Now all of this may sound very idealistic to you, and in some cases it is just that. But, it is an ideal that all clubs profess and are always striving to achieve in principle and practice.
In closing, you should be aware of a "golden rule" of conduct that you should bear in mind while traveling in club circles:
"If you give respect, you will get respect.
If you act like an asshole, you will be treated like an asshole!"