A rare dry and clear day can mean only one thing for Pierce College student Roman Gavrishov. He will be riding his motorcycle to school.
Helmet, leather jacket and any other required motorcyclist garb are carried with Gavrishov into the community college to pursue a higher education
To get to Pierce College, the commute didn’t just start from the driveway at his Puyallup valley home. Life had started for Gavrishov about 6,000 miles east of here in Moldova.
Within the time he lived there, Moldova had separated from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, had a civil war, and the new Moldovan government had an ethnic conflict with Slav separatists. In 1995, Gavrishov immigrated to the United States with his family. They settled in Federal Way.
Gavrishov has since adapted to the culture in the United States. For example, he has embraced America’s jazz music and is interested in U.S. history and literature.
It’s hard to tell that Gavrishov is from Eastern Europe because when listening to him talk in English, his second language. He doesn’t have an accent of a typical James Bond villain.
Riding motorcycles is something Gavrishov has only recently begun to enjoy as a hobby and as a fuel efficient way to commute.
He bought his first motorcycle a few months ago. When he became the proud new owner of a black with silver gray carbon and red accents, a used GS 500 Suzuki motorbike.
Gavrishov said this is a sport-looking bike but doesn’t fall into the crotch rocket category. This bike is not as fast for that name and the seating position is more relaxed and upright compared to a crotch rocket.
“The fastest I have gone on the bike was about 115 miles per hour not top speed, but the speedometer goes to 130 miles per hour. This was done on a closed track of course,” Gavrishov said with a grin that might suggest otherwise, maybe suggesting that some of the facts were carefully selected to make sounding going 115 mph legal or a bit safer.
Since becoming a motorcyclist, he’s had strangers talk to him about how dangerous it is to ride a motorcycle.
“I have had random people approach me. Strangers walk up to me in a parking lot and ask me ‘Don’t you know that motorcycles are dangerous?’” To these people Gavrishov wants to respond sarcastically to the stranger and say “No, but why don’t you show me how dangerous it is?”
It’s no secret motorcycles are less safe than a car, but motorcycles are just more fun to drive, Gavrishov said.
Music is another centerpiece of the Gavrishov’s life. He was a successful saxophone player in high school and college. While in high school Gavrishov, raked in many soloist awards playing though the jazz festival circuit.
Up until about a year ago he was playing in a band in Seattle, made up of Pacific Lutheran University students and other players from the Seattle jazz scene. Gavrishov still plays the horn but now with the Pierce College jazz band.
Gavrishov is at Pierce to study what he loves, which is literature and history.
“I like the humanity courses, and I like learning things,” Gavrishov said.
Gavrishov’s literary and art savvy is apparent in his common dress code of jeans, pea coat and a half beard that’s longer than a five o’clock shadow but not long enough to be a full beard, giving the look of a stereotypical college history buff. But he is interested in more than just history.
“I will read just about anything fiction or non-fiction, but I have not read any romantic novels yet; that genre is reserved for lonely middle-aged ladies,” Gavrishov said.
To give a idea on what Gavrishov is reading, one of his favorite books is Brave New World by Aldus Huxley and some of his favorite authors are George Orwell, Neil Postman, Kurt Vonnegut and Shakespeare.
“I say Shakespeare only because I just read Hamlet and I liked it,” he said. It does seem strange to like Shakespeare, but his work is iconic, Gavrishov said.
Gavrishov is working toward his associate’s degree and hopes to transfer to the one of the local state universities, where he hopes to gain the skills so that he will have his dream job as a college professor or teacher.
“This seems like a great job because I could be getting paid to learn,” said Gavrishov, who currently is working as part-time janitor for a senior center in the Kent.
Whether cruising on his motorcycle or cruising through a book there is always room for something to learn and learning is bliss.
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