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I have a beautiful wife, an infant son & a schnauzer. viva la tex-mex. Words that describe or excite: Missional, Glocal, Lead, Innovate, Initiate, Create, Risk, Community

Saturday, November 05, 2005

I'll Take Blue Light Special to Win in the Fourth, Please.


I used to work on the south side for a charitable organization. Our offices were in the same shopping center as a K-Mart. On windy days we would all gather by the water cooler at the windows to place our bets.
Now we did a lot of good for a lot of people; a whole lot of good. We had a food pantry, we helped people with bills, we even offered counseling. And we weren’t choosy either. We helped anybody and everybody, once or repeatedly. We offered all kinds of counseling for all kinds of people too. I am talking about crisis counseling, family counseling, suicide counseling, dependency and addiction counseling, crisis pregnancy counseling, premarital and marital counseling, relationship counseling, spiritual counseling, financial counseling, teen counseling. You name it-we offered it.
In fact there was one case in particular I remember was sort of a mixture of quite a few areas. I didn’t counsel this person myself, but of course I can’t reveal his name. This particular guy was lived in government subsidized housing for psychological reasons. His apartments were near our offices. Every day I would see him walking back and forth to K-Mart five and six times a day. Often times driving around, I would see him at various bus stops all over town. Apparently he spent his nights alone in his apartment or with some of his Section 8 buddies in the complex listening to dark metal and smoking large amounts of weed, or “the dope” as my mother-in-law would call it. Finally the day came when he came to us for help. He was convinced, and quite terrified I might add, that Satan had been entering his room at night and making more and more aggressive sexual advances. Well these advances had progressed to intercourse and now he was pregnant with Satan’s love child. Or would it be hate child? Anyway, this guy was freaky. Really freaky. Believe me, if Satan was going to spawn a half-human, half-fallen-angel seed it would not have been with this guy. I think even the Lord of the Air has hygiene standards. The real Satan would have surely chosen someone like Ashton Kutcher or the Dali Lhama or Adolf Hitler, almost anybody else.
Now I don’t really do counseling. My work with this organization focused more on the community outreach side of things. I don’t “counsel” people that well. I can give normal common sense advice. I can speak to groups, organize events, come up with creative solutions to certain problems, strategize and cast vision. But let’s just say I don’t really have much mercy, or patience with people that are in chronic need of help with the same emotional issues. We had this one counselor, actually two counting his wife, they both had a gift for mercy. This couple, it was sick really, they had mercy oozing from them like extra-virgin olive oil does off the chin of that always way-too-fat-guy in the mob. You know the guy, usually he is called something like Tiny, or Little Sal - like, what the freak? Who is that kidding, is that suppose to be a friggin’ joke? Friggin’ hilarious, wise guys, who gave ‘em that name? Sorry. Actually, we have counseled some of these local goombas, too, believe it or not. Of course it will be along time before you catch me writing about them. Maybe after I know they are all sleeping with the fishes. I ain’t friggin’ kidding yous! Anyway I don’t have mercy, as I was saying, at least not in large endless supply as those gifted in counseling do. I had it in mind to tell the boy carrying Satan’s seed to go to Planned Parenthood because they are better at pushing people towards abortion.
Or take “Mary,” as we’ll call her. A short little white lady in her mid-fifties with paranoid schizophrenia. She got the main number to our offices and after that it was the lottery from hell just answering the phone. Sometimes she would have this really horrible Caribbean accent which immediately elicited only one response from me. I would put her on hold and she would talk until she was finished with whatever she was rambling on about, or maybe switched to a new person in her head or whatever, and eventually she would hang-up. Sometimes it would take the line 30 minutes or longer to clear. Other times were more interesting to say the least. The city bus drivers were always out to get her. Apparently, the evil, dastardlies were backing a bus up to her apartment at night, sliding her window open ever so slightly, and piping in the exhaust fumes to kill her in her sleep. Every morning about 8:30 I would see her shuffle in front of our offices to K-Mart and I’d sigh a sad sigh that the bus drivers, once again, had not succeeded. I wondered why they didn’t just use a pillow, but thought better of actually saying it aloud. Guess that means I do have just a little bit of mercy.
Anyway, we would line up on windy days to watch the cart races. Not just any cart races. I am talking about the unmanned K-mart shopping cart races. Sometimes they would weave and bob in and out of parked cars as if they were bats equipped with incredible sonar capabilities. Most of the time however, they would just cream whatever was in their wind-driven path. Often they were really past most of the cars which remained on the western half of the lot, the K-Mart side. Our side had fewer cars and so exposed these shopping cart chariots to many other options and wide open track to gain speed and run wide open. Sometimes they would fly across the lot to the edge and hit those parking barriers that always scrap the under side of your bumper if you pull in too close. Man when they hit those things, whoa Nelly! It was always fun trying to decide whether or not they were going to do a Triple Salkow, or a McTwist 180 Heelside, or a clumsy summersault. Once I saw one weave though several rows of cars only glancing one or two, opening up and gaining speed to go right out of the drive way of the K-Mart parking lot, across two lanes of minimal traffic, into the Burger King entrance on the opposite side of the street, jump the curb at Burger King and crash into their big cedar bushes out front. That was my lucky day because I had called it. Of course I didn’t call it out loud ahead of time because that was just too big a gamble, but I called it. I don’t care if you believe me. Man those carts would really cream those cars though. Oh man the laughs we had watching a cart take on the paint job of a brand new Escalade. What are you doing driving an Escalade going to K-Mart, anyway? Isn’t Target more to your liking? I have seen on some very rare occasions, a cart go between the little parking bumps, across the 3 foot wide gravel strip next to the sidewalk, onto the sidewalk and off the curb into the street narrowly being missed by an oncoming motor vehicle; or to cause two cars to narrowly avoid hitting the cart whilst also barely miss having a wreck themselves.
Man I miss those days, standing at the water cool, with a little upside down dunce cap of a cup, looking out the window, watching those chrome and plastic wind propelled consumer chariots race like stock cars on their own blacktop demolition derby track.
The department I was head of there at those offices once organized over 200 Christmas presents for kids in a low income apartment complex and we gave away 22 turkeys and twice as many bags of groceries to those same families.
Only that wind coming from the west, down off the mountains, being heated up by the hot desert floor could set those carts blazing a path for Burger King and beyond. Place your bets.

1 comment:

Chris Walls said...

McMinn...email me dude...cwalls@pastors.com

Chris Walls