Thursday, March 5, 2009

Rambo and the broken water heater

I really, really love James Blunt and I really, really, love this song. I have done a small survey and it seems that mostly women appreciate James Blunt's music and men do not. Huh. What's that all about? Men and women are different? No news flash there ey? :-)

This post really has nothing to do with the song - I was practicing putting videos on a post is all. :-)

Well, our water heater broke while we were both at work, 40 gallons of water seeped everywhere. I immediately called our neighbor, whom we call "Rambo" to see if he had a water problem - he did not. He came right over and quickly assessed and concluded that it was the water heater. As luck would have it he 'knew someone' who just happened to be at Lowe's who picked up the new water heater and was at our house in less that two hours.

"Rambo" is a military man - tried and true - although retired due to a serious injury he is still boldly and proudly connected to the "special forces" and local law enforcement. In fact, to prove such, while he stayed at our house for four hours while his buddy put in the new water heater he told me many, many war stories and showed me texts he received from the police department asking if he could help with the tacticals of an upcoming drug raid. I was exhausted from listening. He is the type of guy that doesn't converse - rather he speaks and his 'audience' is held hostage to listen. At some point, he being fully aware that we are loving, peaceful, non-violent, anti-war ole hippies - challenged me in this way. He asked why, the way in which I 'help' people in my work in addiction services is any different than his work of making it possible for people like us to sit on our deck, playing music, sipping wine and grilling steaks. He asked who would help those I serve if didn't do it, and compared it to his work of 'painting his face, bearing arms, tactical maneuvers, homeland security, and overall protecting the people. The first and obvious difference is that I don't kill or torture anyone. To him it is just a difference in the job description, a job all the same and equally necessary. He make jokes such as, "while you are singing "We Are The World and holding hands and living free it is people like me that are making sure that you can continue doing that. On some weird level I understood him and at the same time I disagreed with him because he professed it way too loud and strong. He had stories about everything from who really killed JFK to just how unsafe we are now that Obama is in office. along with tales of businesses owned and lost, big money, plans to buy land in Montana and a multi-million dollar lawsuit for his injuries.

He was quite racist in his story telling and yet claimed he was not racist. He used the "N" word without flinching - I was cringing every time. My head was spinning and I was 'stuck' in my own home while his friend -whom he claims would never say "no" to him because he and his narcotics detective brother keep him out of jail. I am not convinced the water heater guy was a criminal, but who knows. In fact, most of what "Rambo" told me I found so hard to believe. There was a huge element of honor and purpose in his speaking that was long established from generations of military and policemen in his family - and when I tried to tell the simplest story of my Dads WW ll experience - it fell to deaf insignificant ears. And yet, here he was, helping me, us........and I know I can call on him for anything, anything at all. Still, he scares the crap out of me. He is the kind of guy I don't ever want to piss off - it feels like one might feel about a 'prison guard' and you know if you are nice to them they will "take care of you". How weird is that?

He is well spoken and knowledgeable - hard to challenge - impossible to "reach"...........and his opinions are facts in his mind. He is very strong in his presence both in size and voice. Last night was a rarity - our paths seldom cross so it was "over-kill" to listen to him for so many hours. He calls me ma'am and salutes Skipp - once he swore within earshot of my Mom and he came to her and apologized - he cleans the snow off of my car. When we lost power here for several days he came by and made sure I had water to drink and for 'flushing'. He is a combination of good and evil. Life and death. Fact and fiction. Honor and fear. Hope and despair. Prejudice and tolerance. (mostly prejudice).

I am writing about this because I had to look at myself after experiencing him for so long. I realized I don't need to prove anything. I didn't have to explain or share anything. I found the strength of who I am was enough - and I need not defend. I realized that it was he that was struggling - to defend-explain-prove....that the simplicity of our life frightened him - that my inner peace is something he longed for. My view of the world is not jaded despite the many injustices. I believe that kindness does matter and it need not come back to me from the person receiving the kind act because it will come back around eventually - as does harmful acts. There is a sense of "owing him" that was clear. It is unfortunate that he doesn't know how much he has already been given.
He is a force to be reckoned with, - and then again, so am I.

Love Gail - an ole hippie


PENolan said...

It takes all kinds . . .
I suspect you're right that he was the one defending his stance because something about you all threatened him. But then again, it may be that he resents you and helps you at the same time because that, too, makes him feel better about himself.

Will you take him apricot brandy as a "thank you"?

Gail said...

Hi Trish-

I SO love and appreciate that you remember and mention the 'apricot brandy'. :-)

Actually, Skipp has invited him, his wife and daughter to have nice steak dinners at his restaurant at no cost to them.

And yes, the "resents and helps" at the same time makes perfect sense.

Love Gail

Val said...

This is a really good post. I mean, REALLY. I will need to come back to it read it is so honest and it speaks volumes...

Thank you.

The Crow said...

Rambo will always be judged by those weaker than him.
What he says is true, as he sees it.
"Nice" people don't have to go around defending their "niceness".
Hard men do, since seen out of context, they tend to scare people. Understandably :)
We will always need men like him, but we really don't like to admit it.
Just be glad you don't have to go out there and do the kind of things he does.

Gail said...

Hi there 'Crow"

First, I am thrilled you came by. I agree with your comment completely. I am glad that my 'calling' is of a peaceful nature. And I DO know that I am able to do what I do because men and women like him are making it possible.


Gail said...

Hi Val-

good to see you. And yes, there is a lot to ponder from this post. The Crow really captured the inner conflict quite well.

Love Gail

Andy said...

Hi Gail,

Been meaning to respond to this post for ages and, finally, here I am!

First, I, too, like James Blunt - and I'm a man (well, a gay man, obviously).

Then the post itself. For me, I always think that people like this actually have to justify, to themselves, this thinking and, as a result, they tend to rail against the 'non-believers' and try to make them uncomfortable. This gives them both a feeling of power over the people they see as the 'little people' and reinforces their stance. However, I believe that, deep down, they realise that their stance is, perhaps, wrong. This makes them insecure in themselves and hence the loud, blustering attempt to make 'you' feel small!

There you go. My thoughts only, you know.

Gail said...

Hi Andy-

"Thank you" - I did feel small - inconsequential and overpowered.

It is really nice to see you, well, read you.

Love Gail