“Abner! There’s something strange going on over there.”
There’s a whole lot of folks that won’t get that reference.
For those of you that do… Well, we’re probably of a similar age.
Anyhoo, I’m heading into the laundry room (Locked by the way, so I have my key.) and this old woman comes out onto her little patio to tell me that I’m not allowed to use the laundry room.
“Is it out of order,” I ask.
“No you can’t use it because it’s for residents only.”
“I’m a resident.”
“You can’t be, you’re not old enough, so don’t lie to me. I’m calling the manager.”
“Call away! I pay my rent on time and cause no-one any trouble. Let’s see how this plays out with Michelle.”
I walk into the laundry room and go on about my business. She on the other hand does not go about her business. Apparently, Now I’m her business.
“I’m not calling the apartment management, If you keep putting your clothes in the washers I will unplug them when you’re gone,” She yells from the safety of her patio.
“Look ‘Gladys’ that would be a mistake on your part, I’m a resident here and have been for a year and a half,” I say loudly.
I’m calling the cops!”
I think, “OH for Fucks sake.”
I go back to the door of the laundry room, “Really? You honestly think that this is a matter for the police?”
“Yes, I’m afraid!”
I on the other hand am PISSED. All I wanted to do was get my laundry in the washer, go back to my apartment, have another cup of coffee, some breakfast, and then come back to put my stuff in the dryer.
“Afraid of WHAT? Its broad daylight, there are people all over the place, what could you possibly think is going to happen? You’d be better served by minding your own business, instead of trying to provoke a conflict. If you think something is amiss after observing a situation for a few minutes, then call the cops.”
“You’re wearing a ball cap, and you look too young to be here. You’re up to no good.”
I take off my baseball cap, just to check and make sure it’s not a confederate flag, or an American flag, or NRA logo or a Swastika. It’s not. It says, “Dive” with a small little divers flag.
“Look you old crone, profile much? Is the white in my beard not enough for you? The crows feet around my eyes don’t tell you I’m old enough? Who the hell died and made you die Führer? Where exactly do you get off calling someone a liar to their face? What would it take, you want to see the gray hair on my balls? Would that do it? ”
Crossed a line there… I know. The stunned look on her face was damn funny… and totally worth it.
Just as I delivered that line, Michelle, the apartment manager was rounding the corner. She laughed out loud.
I turned towards the sound.
“Oh hey Michelle, sorry about that, would you explain to this person that I’m a resident?”
Michelle in her usual calm way said, “Sure, Happy to do it.”
I went back into the laundry room, and went about my business. I could hear the wannabe Gladys Kravitz saying, “How was I to know?”
Michelle responded, “Because he had a key to the laundry room.”
“Well, he was rude to me.”
“From what I heard, it sounded like you provoked him. He’s one of our best tenants, quiet, generally nice, pays his rent, makes good suggestions, takes action when it’s warranted, but mostly keeps to himself.”
Laundry started, I locked and closed the door to the laundry room, then went back to the relative solitude of my own apartment.
Over my next cup of coffee a bunch of things that went through my mind.
Why was that lady afraid? What prompts fear that makes you treat complete strangers as if they’re out to get you?
I’ll grant you, the chaos of our nation isn’t easy to deal with. I wonder if unreasoning fear is part of what’s driving the chaos.
Yeah, Trump may not be your guy or even the guy, but he’s only the most recent in a long line of Presidents, and he’s not a dictator. Well, not yet anyway.
I mean, you could say that the quality of Presidents, while always hit & miss, has perhaps been more miss than hit since the Nixon administration.
Perhaps longer, but I came of age the day Nixon left office under a cloud of corruption and scandal.
I can’t comment too much on Presidents up to the Nixon era because I was blissfully ignorant & uncaring of anything except my next little league game.
What happened to live and let live? Why would someone feel it’s necessary to try to reach out and control the actions of a complete stranger, especially when there is nothing to gain and the likelihood you’ll start a conflict?
It makes no sense to me.
Maybe I’m the odd man out. I just want to get through my day unmolested and without molesting anyone else. I’m seeking peace and simplicity, not angst and conflict (conflict leading to complication).
To put it simply, I just want to be left the hell alone.
I care nothing for politics. I care nothing for grandiose protests or demonstrations. Largely, these acts of theater don’t bring change.
I sure as hell don’t believe in vandalism of anyone’s property (state or private) whether I agree with them or not.
There is a better way, a peaceful way. It’s the way of listening and speaking with calm and logic, not violence and cruelty.
If someone isn’t going to listen to rational conversation, they’re not going to listen to riots. They’ll take action, usually draconian, but they will not have heard what you were trying to say.
Granted, I didn’t practice what I preach this morning. So sue me, I hadn’t had my second cup of coffee yet.
In retrospect, perhaps I could see why the lady was afraid. If all she’s been seeing is CNN and Fox News. Perhaps she’s concluded that anyone wearing a dark colored hat is ANTIFA and she’s afraid of what that means.
I know I find myself looking at the ANTIFA crowd and thinking that they behave a lot more like fascists, and look more like the Symbionese Liberation Army, or ISIS than the historical depictions of the NAZI SS.
At least the SS was neatly dressed and you typically saw their faces, instead of looking like the depictions of traditional roadside bandits, or bank robbers.
My Grandmother once said, “If you’re doing something where you feel you need to cover your face, it’s probably something you shouldn’t be doing.”
She had a point. Protesting in the open where people can see your face says two things. 1) You’re not ashamed of your position. 2) You want to stand up and be counted and recognize there may be consequences.
I have respect for anyone who is open and unafraid to speak their mind. I don’t have to agree, but I do have to respect their dedication and position.
I wonder if the need to control other’s actions is a reflection of just basic insecurity.
The world is too big to control and there are too many moving parts so people try to control the local things; don’t Smoke, don’t drink, don’t let your children walk home or ride the bus. Don’t eat fatty foods, don’t get fat, don’t be too thin.
Does insecurity inevitably lead to imposition of measures to control everyone else?
If that assertion is true, it leads to a simple equation. You must be an elite pulling the strings, or else you’re one of the people being led around.
So you’re right back to fear being the root cause of a lot of the problems we see today.
My friends, its time to step into the light. Go forth into your day and your community being unafraid. Choose to see the better in people and understand that we all have the same basic needs, wants, and desires.
Speak your mind, listen to others, and really hear them. You don’t have to agree, just acknowledge that other peoples opinions and beliefs matter too. Recognize that you’re not necessarily right, and treat others with respect. Instead of running to tell a cop someone dropped trash somewhere, bend over and pick it up. Set a good example, and pay no attention to the people acting badly.
Hopefully, in time, the world will become a better place because we choose to lead by example, not by force.
That’s not to say force is off the table. But it should always be a last resort.
Time to put the clothes in the dryer…