THE BURDEN OF FRIENDSHIP-GENTLE RANT ALERT

The most infamous tow truck owner in the South…maybe nationwide…well on Facebook at least, is a friend of mine. Is…not was…! He is a friend of mine despite my social liberalism and his Trump leanings. Just so we understand his leanings, were he the Tower of Pizza, he would have fallen over into Trump’s lap by now. No I’m not going to divulge his name but I will call him Sampson. My “conservative, Trump supporting, gun toting, Christian values spouting and I refuse to tow Bernie supporters” friend started a wee bit of a furor when “God told him” to leave a handicapped woman on the side of the road because of her “Bernie” bumper sticker. Sampson says he did not know she was handicapped, despite her handicapped sticker, and I believe him. I am sure he didn’t see it because the Sampson I know would not have ignored a handicapped sticker. I am sure he was simply blinded by the light given off from the “Feel the Bern” sticker. Look guys, sometimes I can’t see an elephant sleeping under my nose or the food I dropped on the floor so I am not going to throw stones.

I am very disappointed in Sampson but I’m not going to abandon him. Abandonment is not what friends do even when they disagree with each other or one is disappointed in the other. Sampson has never been anything but kind, straight forward and above board with me and my wife Linda Gail. I’ve bought several cars from him, dined with him, shot the bull with him and borrowed equipment and tools from him. I admit Sampson is a “wheeler dealer” and probably should have named his company “Anything For a Buck!” but wheeling and dealing is not illegal…maybe. Besides, he has not tried to steal my bass boat or woo my wife so I am not going to throw him under his tow truck. Did I write that in the correct order?

I won’t desert him but I won’t defend him either. While I defend his right to leave anyone on the side of the road he chooses, I won’t defend his actual action or his decision. Sampson was out and out wrong. Good Samaritans don’t leave people stranded and the God I worship would not tell me to “leave the lady socialist on the road,” handicapped or not. The situation could have been handled differently and Sampson should make his lack of trust in “communist left wing hippy freaks” known and mention his adversion upfront.

Lack of trust may not be the whole issue but rather out and out hatred. Not necessarily hatred on Sampson’s part but rather the social and cultural atmosphere we find ourselves inhaling. My brother tells me all of the time, “It’s not Trump. People just want change. People are fed up.” I agree with him about being fed up but I fear Sampson’s presidential choice, Mr. Trump, is using our hatred and bigotry, along with the desire for change, to power his campaign. People are no longer nice to each other, especially with the anonymity of social media. Any idiot with a computer can say whatever he wants to without the fear of getting kicked in the crotch. Worse are the creative non-idiots with an agenda to push who play to the folks who think everything on the internet is true. Trump did not create this scenario and may not be a bigoted racist himself but I believe he is using bigotry and racism to his advantage.

Hitler used mass media to create a “Let’s Make Germany Great Again” campaign along with non-Aryans as scapegoats to give “good Germans” someone to hate and a focus for their energies. Mr. Trump has just taken the next natural step, utilizing social media to create a “Let’s Make America Great Again” campaign and has used most every American fear, except our fear of clowns, as a reason to create scapegoats for us to focus our hate and energies. Clowns may yet be utilized as soon as Mrs. Clinton secures her party’s nomination. Before someone points out Godwin’s Law, yes I did compare Trump to Hitler but only his methods and he has had much help from the trolls that lurk near “the bridge” known as social media.(1) Despite Hitler’s track record, I believe Trump to be infinitely more dangerous. After all, if he wins the election he will have his finger on the nuclear trigger surrounded by a group of minions yelling, “Push it! Push it! Push it! We dare you!”

Differences in political opinions can make friendships challenging and interesting but should not end friendships. When I finally talk to Sampson I will tell him that I am disappointed and why. He will listen intently and then defend himself. There may even be a little yelling involved but at the end of the day, I won’t leave until I am sure we are still friends or when the ambulance leaves to take me away. I am guessing I should leave my car with the COEXIST sticker at home. I shouldn’t be taking chances at my age.

(1)Reference is from the Norwegian fairytale “THREE BILLIE GOATS GRUFF.”

More nonfiction by Don Miller is available at http://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

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DRUNKS, FOOLS AND … OTHER FOLK WHO HAVE ENDED UP IN MY YARD

Another one last night. There is an old quote that goes something like “God takes care of or looks out for drunks, fools and children” …and on my particular stretch of Highway 11, the Cherokee Scenic Highway, I would add old ladies, former students, members of the South Carolina General Assembly, their mistresses, car and motorcycle thieves and our South of the Border brethren. Why do I say this? Because at one time or another all have ended up in my yard with their wheels pointed toward the sky and not one has been unable to walk away. While most were not unscathed, most only had minor bumps, cuts and bruises from their brush with fate.

My home sits one-third of the way up a high hill between two curves and for some reason people have a hard time navigating those two curves. Drunk, sober, day light, night time, rain or clear as a bell, it just doesn’t seem to matter. In our near thirty-years here we have witnessed at least three dozen “brushes with fate” …that we actually know about. There have been others we have not witnessed with only jagged pieces of plastic, metal or glass to attest that they occurred…like last night. There have been many memorable ones but I won’t bore you with them all.

We always hear them first. A tattle tale scream of sliding tires signifying that they had gone into to the curve to fast, smashed their brakes and over compensated. This is usually followed by a “thump” we feel as much as hear. How fast they were going determines where they ended up. After using my side of the hill as a ski ramp a drunk wrapped his car around my closest neighbor’s pine tree and kept trying to extricate himself early one morning. As I sleepily wandered down my drive I watched the tree top sway back and forth as “I got a snoot full Tommy” jammed his gear shift first into reverse and then into forward, not realizing his car was in a “horse shoe” around the now dying pine. Not really knowing what to expect I watched him warily as left his car, tripping twice before he fell face first into a bank. He didn’t even try to break his fall. I felt safe. As I rushed to assist he hopped to his unsteady feet and in a voice that was preceded by the smell of stale beer and cigarettes explained, “I thought I could drive it out.” I jokingly responded “Not without a chainsaw.” He didn’t get the joke and asked, “Man, you got one?” He was not happy when the state constabulary showed up. He fixed me with a drunken stare and said “Man, you sold me out.” Yep.

I have heard said that if you fall from a high place your life flashes in front of your eyes. I don’t know because in order to fall from a high place one must climb to a high place and that AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN! I do know if you are facing what might be certain death your life does just that. With one more post hole to dig, I had paused to rest my aching arms when I heard the scream of locked up tires. As I spun I saw the out of control car become airborne while making a bee line straight for me. As I moved to my left, the car landed and spun “butt-end” forward…and again homed in on me. Time slowed but my life flashed. Ooooh, I HAD FORGOTTEN THAT LITTLE TIDBIT. At the last moment it veered away from me and I tripped over a rock and ended up in the stream below, which put me in a perfect position, albeit wet, to see the car crash, rear end first, into the concrete culvert that my stream ran through. The older lady seemed to be ejected through her open window when her shoulder harness caught and “reeled” her back in. I ran to her fearing the worse. She just looked at me and said, “I guess I hit my brakes a bit too hard. I thought we were both goners.” As had I but I asked if I could assist in anyway before running to call the authorities. She looked up and with a “toothless grin” explained, “I seem to have lost my teeth when I went out the window, do you think you might look for them.” “Pride goeth before the fall” but no self-respecting “Autumn Belle” should be without her false teeth while waiting for an ambulance. I found them and while rinsing them in the stream discovered I had dislocated a finger in my fall. Boy did that hurt…but not until I looked at it.

I left to run on a Sunday morning several years ago and I remember that it was a glorious day. The sun was still just below the horizon but with the stars still twinkling above I knew we were in for a bright blue sky once Old Sol rose from his slumber. Despite being on the wrong end of a ten mile run I was as happy as if I had good sense until I looked down toward my mailbox. A highway patrol car, a car on its top, what appeared to be three bodies laid out side by side and a short dark guy speaking with great animation to a highway patrolman. The three bodies weren’t bodies at all but they were all as drunk as ole “Cooter Brown” or the Spanish equivalent, “Cooter Marrón,” and were sleeping it off in the now early morning sun. I am sure that later in the day they might have prayed for death and the highway patrolman JUST LEFT THEM LAYING THERE to sleep it off! The wrecker showed up, took the car, and the highway patrolman JUST LEFT THEM THERE. I couldn’t just leave them there. “Habla Ingles?” I got a head shake, IN THE NEGATIVE, followed by “Habla Espanol?” With my thumb and pointer finger held close together I reluctantly said, “un poquito.” We are off to a great start and I wish I had paid better attention in my college Spanish class. Using a combination of pidgin English, Spanish and wild hand waving I determined that they lived “somewhere over there.” According to his hand signals somewhere between Nova Scotia and Miami. Ten minutes later they piled out of my old land cruiser in Marietta, not Miami, and despite their hangovers erupted into smiles, head bobbing and a chorus of “muchas graciases.” There were other phrases that might have translated to “You are my hero” but I am not sure. My last thought was a hope they had a bit of the “hair of the dog” to help them with the hangovers that were sure to come.

For great #nonfiction on #Kindle try Don Miller at http://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM