Something I've never forgotten
content: Sep 21, 2017 · podcast: Dec 6, 2020
And then there was that one time when I was fresh outta high school and floundering around like a moron. I didn’t have a job and was whining offhandedly about being poor while over at my sister’s house. Whining like teenagers do because everything should've just been given to me without me putting in any effort.
And then my sister’s friend, Don, said to me, “can you run a jackhammer?”
Now that wasn’t something I was expecting. I thought to myself, "I can’t run a jackhammer. I’m a skinny, artsy dork wearing Converse high-tops and a Garfield t-shit."
Anyways... this isn’t about me. It’s about Don and him trying to help. Legitimately.
I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed but it seems like far too much of the time older guys give the younger guys hell. Just because. All in the name of that stupid trial by fire, chest beating kinda nonsense. Like the guys coming up after them are barely capable of wiping their own asses and need to be scorned and ridiculed.
Why can men be like this? Maybe it’s got something to with the next in line will soon take over. Maybe that’s scary so they want to keep them down for as long as possible. Who the hells the knows. I guess why something is, is rarely important to me these days.
So another time when I was a teenager I was washing my step dad’s car. He was there and so was the neighbor but they were just standing around gabbing or whatever. Then the neighbor’s son (two years older than me) walked over and said while pointing his finger, “you missed a spot, you missed a spot.” And he said it like five times. I wasn’t even done washing the car for Christ's sake.
The neighbor gave his son a puzzled look to which the son replied, “I love doing that. That’s what they all do to me at work.”
Ya, I didn’t really like him much after that.
Anyways 2... back to Don.
Even though we were two very different people, him being a construction worker and me being a pretend teenage anarchist, he had a really good heart. And he didn’t let those differences stand in the way of extending his hand to try and pull me up out of my floundering.
I never learned how to use a jackhammer. I’m not cut out for that kinda work. But that brief conversation with Don was something I’ve never forgotten.
Do that. Make a lasting, positive impression on someone.
Don’t be the guy that gives the younger ones a hard time in that bullshit rite of passage garbage. Don’t be the guy that ridicules because that’s what everybody at work does. Ya, maybe it’ll toughen them up but it can also make them cynical and mean.
I’m not sure if the world needs that much toughening up any more. I don’t know any kids preparing to go hunt buffalo these days or fend off saber toothed tigers. And I’m not talking about sports or the military here either. I’m talking about just regular every day life, talking about borderline bullying in the name of making someone else "a man."
Nurture the next guy, instill confidence. Give a shit about them because they’re not punching bags, they’re impressionable human beings. Hand out compliments and useful advice and not sarcasms and put-downs. Treat them as equals and not like you’re superior. I’ve always talked to Maggie like she was an equal, treated her with dignity and respect. I’ve never talked down to her or made her feel bad about herself.
I'm not trying to come across as holier than thou or anything but I do and don't do certain things on purpose. Even more so when interacting with others.
Those of you who know me well know that I watch people closely. Watch everything closely. Half suspicious and the other half interested. All Gemini for sure.
So Maggie and I went camping with our tribe this past summer. She had never fished before so one of our friends came over to help. Kris was very patient and kind, took a few moments to show her how to hold the rod and cast and all that. He didn’t talk to her like she was a girl or incapable. He talked to her like she was simply inexperienced. And he did it all just in the name of being a good person. For all the kids fishing. I watched the whole time and won’t ever forget Kris' gentle spirit. I doubt if Maggie will either.
And just so ya know I firmly call Maggie out on things when she’s dropped the ball. And then of course she feels bad. But getting called out for not doing the right thing and then feeling bad, that’s how life is supposed to work. Getting called out and made to feel less than just for not knowing or just for being younger is bullshit.
Be a role model, give them an example on how to be that better person. No, you’re not gonna change the whole world but you will change some scrawny kid’s view of it. We’ve all had someone in life that made ours a little bit better. Be it a grandpa or a teacher or whoever. Someone that we enjoyed being around, looked forward to seeing. There's no reason that we can't be that someone in somebody else's life.
I admire Don and Kris.
Be somebody admired. Be somebody to remember.
PS- If you like this, feel free to share with your friends. I always forget to say this.
I’m still liking the guy who put the gas cap on for you. If you’re not careful you can still discover small pockets of humanity crawling around on this rock.
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