During Lunch

I had a meeting today in Cincinati. Whenever I travel to Cincinati, it’s usually an all day thing (it is a 3-hour trip in each direction)

On my return home, I decided to stop in Bowling Green for lunch. It was already 4:30pm, but hey, still lunch to me.

Whenever I’m in BG I try to eat at this one spot on campus that is known for its stuffed breadsticks. You can get them made anyway you like, but I usually order them with pepperoni and mozzarella cheese (not that adventurous, I know).

So I put in my order and wait for my food. The place doesn’t exactly offer fast service, which is understandable, since the breadsticks are made to order. I wasn’t in a hurry though.

So I’m waiting for my food, and my booth has a clear view into the kitchen. The food preparers and the waitstaff are mingling back there in between orders.

The Kitchen Manager (I’m calling him that due to his perceived authority) was making lude comments about and towards the female waitstaff.

What initially caught my ear was the gaul with which the kitchen manager spoke. I wasn’t eavesdropping, nor was I in close proximity, but I could clearly hear everything being said. The restaurant wasn’t empty, so I suspect other patrons heard it as well.

The manager seemed totally comfortable taking about these women’s bodies. He even touched/grabbed them on more than one occasion (I couldn’t see exactly what happened, but from the waitress’ reactions I could tell they had been touched.)

I was amazed at such brazen violations of personal space and human dignity out in the open. I decided to speak up for these women. Surely they needed someone to stand up for them, right?

But then I thought “Maybe they didn’t. Maybe they were not bothered by the Kitchen Manager’s actions.

Maybe they liked it.

I hadn’t considered at all that the Kitchen Mangers verbal and physical advances were not unwanted. I had assumed that the female waitstaff (and other male employees) had no choice but to be subjected to the Kitchen Manager’s ridiculous behavior.

I didn’t it observe and visual cues that the women were uncomfortable; one of them appeared to be smiling the entire time. On of the male food preparers (I assuming a new employee) looked unsure whether to ignore the weird behavior or approvingly smile.

The whole incident made me think about this workplace behavior,#metoo stuff. Where is the line and how does one know when it has been crossed? Who’s responsible to say something and at what point should that something be said?

In a perfect world, it is easy to say the women should be brave and speak up (maybe they do so at the risk of losing their jobs) or that the other male employees should check the “bad actor” (how many people are that brave?). I don’t have the answers.

What I do know, is that when inappropriate is imposed on person, eventually all persons are affected in that setting. The question is how badly. I for one know the breadsticks didn’t taste as good today…

Are you sure you want to do that?

Over this past week my wife has witnessed two apparent crimes, or at least incidents that looked like something was awry.  Both times I was with her but not paying attention or looking in the direction she was.  Both times her first inclination was to call the Police, and both times I cringed and cautioned her to think carefully before acting.

The first time we were on our way home from church when my wife witnessed what she described as a carjacking.  I was driving, my wife was next to me in the passenger’s seat, with our three children in the 2nd row of our minivan.  I heard tires screech and looked in the rearview mirror just in time to see a woman standing in the road looking visibly shaken and exclaiming that someone just stole her car. Her vehicle did a 180 and drove full speed against traffic in the wrong direction.  One of the nearby motorist invited the woman in, and they sped down the road in pursuit.  All of this took place in the span of 10 seconds or so. My wife, who saw more than i did, brought out her phone and cried out “Someone just stole that lady’s car!  I’m going to call the Police!”  She repeated it two times afterwards, which got our oldest son anxious.  He said he was scared and started crying.  Now I was upset because he was now effected by this incident.  I’m trying to calm him and my wife down, without conveying my growing anger towards her at the moment (we talked it over later on that day and I apologized for being insensitive at the time).

As calmly as I could:

Me: “What are you going to tell the Police when you call them?”  Did you see the person who supposedly stole the car?  Did you see a scuffle or an exchange?  Did you get a make/model/tags?”

My Wife: “No”.

Me: “So what were you going to tell them?”

My Wife: “I dunno; just what happened.”

This afternoon, we were both sitting at our dinning room table which is adjacent to a large window which overlooks a major intersection in the downtown area.  Again, my wife sees something that I don’t.

My Wife: “Look at that!  Look at those guys running!  They came from that car, and they threw something over the tracks (train) and are running away from that red car?  I think the stole it!  I’m going to call the police!”

Me: “What car.  Oh I see.  Those guys ran from that red car?”

My Wife: “Yes!”

Me: “How do you know they stole the car?”

My Wife: “They left the car right there and ran.  The trunk is open!”

Me: “Ok.”

Half an hour later or so, the red car with the open trunk was no longer there.  Someone must have moved it.

I love my wife, and I trust her instincts.  She is more pure hearted and optimistic than I am.  But in these instances, I cautioned her.  Put aside the events of the past 24 months involving the Police.  As a person from Alkebu-Lan, I have always had to think twice before involving Law Enforcement in any situation I’m a part of.  I could only imagine the interview/conversation that would have ensued had she gone through with her intentions, with the little info she could provide.

The Police serve a purpose, just not in these two incidents.

Letting Go

So my children are away at Grandma & Grandpa’s for much of this week.  This is our first extended (longer than two days) time away from each other.  Initially the thought of having a few days without the crew around was quite appealing, but as is often the case, ideas tend to outpace reality.

It’s not just that I miss our daughter slicking into our bed at least twice a night, being awoken by the shrieks of our 9-month old son, or our oldest asking for cereal before sunup.  I realized that this is the first step in the process of letting go.  Our children will be with us only for a short while, as we try to teach them how to be a light to the world.  18 some-odd years seems like a long time, but it goes by quickly.  Our oldest will be 6 in December, and our is daughter will be 3 in two weeks, going on 14 it feels.  My role as their father is to make the most of these few moments, and pray that God makes up the difference.

Grandma has sent a few phone pics and informed us, that the children ask about us everyday.  That made me smile.

That moment when you over think it, and everything falls apart

It’s been over 36 hours, but I’m still in disbelief.

By now you’ve probably heard that the New England Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX by defeating the Seattle Seahawks, 28 to 24.  Much of the game was pretty ho-hum, until the final 3 minutes.  The Patriots took the lead on a go ahead touchdown, leaving the Seahawks a little over two minutes to orchestrate their own comeback.

Seattle by luck, skill, serendipity, or whatever you want to call it managed to get to the Patriots 1-yard line, with a little over a minute to go, and a time out.  All the Seahawks had to do was travel 3 feet, breaking the plane of the end zone, and the likelihood of them winning a second Superbowl in as many years was all but secured.

But that’s not what happened.

There’s a debate raging about who is to blame for what occurred next.  What is certain is that the worst play call in Super Bowl history (and probably NFL history, given the gravity of the situation)  ensued.  Instead of handing the ball off to their All-Pro “Beast Mode” Running Back (Marshawn Lynch) who was having his way with the Patriots defense, the Seahawks decided to attempt a pass play.

From the 1-yard line.

With less than a minute to go.

In the Super Bowl.

Patriots Corner Back Malcolm Butler jumped the route and intercepted the pass.

Game over.

I was speechless.  Why?  Why would the Seahawks decide to do such a foolish thing?  Anyone familiar with pro football knows as the field get shorter, the difficulty of completing passes increases exponentially.  There was no reason to take such a risk.

Over the past day and half, I’ve tossed this dilemma back and forth in my head.  I’m not a fan of either team (go Giants!) but I was mortified by the events that took place on Sunday.  All the hard work, training, preparation, and luck it takes to make it to the biggest game on the biggest stage, and it evaporated just like that.

I’ve been where the Seahawks were on Sunday Night before.  The obvious solution is staring you in the face, but you think you’re too cleaver.  You’re trying to cover all the angles, attempting to solve “a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma“.  But often times in life, things are as straightforward as they seem.  There are no angles, no catches, no provisions, just action.

It takes a lot of courage and self-awareness to make the obvious choice.  There’s a sense of humility and surrender in doing the logical thing in the moment.  Our hearts may tempt us to do the grandiose, over the top; kind of like an in your face to everyone who ever doubted you.  I know, I’ve been there.  It feels good initially, but then better judgement washes over you.

Wisdom has taught me, keep it simple son.

Revisionist History

I want to introduce you to someone: his name is Clay Jenkinson.  He’s the guy in the revolutionary attire participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  Mr. Jenkinson is also, among many other things, historian who host a weekly syndicated public radio program called the Thomas Jefferson Hour.

What Mr. Jenkinson looks like normally.
What Mr. Jenkinson looks like normally.

Each week, Thomas Jefferson (Jenkinson) and his co-host talks about events and happenings from Jefferson’s life and time as one of The United States’ founding fathers.  Later in the program, Jenkinson jumps out of character to discuss what he spoke about earlier, while in character.  I have caught the program on a number of occasions, and I can’t help but laugh to myself whilst shaking my head.

I didn’t have high expectations for the show.  I have listened to discourse on the weather in Paris while Jefferson visited, to the quality of that season’s tomatoes from the garden at Monticello.  I will assume that the subject matter has been more substantial on other occasions, but I’ve not had the privilege of experiencing it.  What I would like to point out is the manner in which the show sets itself up.  The premise is a leisurely conversation with one of the greatest human beings ever- Thomas Jefferson.  The 3rd President of the United States, Jefferson is portrayed as a warm, kind, fatherly, almost angelic being of the highest moral standard.  The listeners are made to feel a sense of gratitude, awe, and wonder as you listen to the sage words of this infallible man.  The Jenkinson gathers a great deal of pleasure portraying the Jefferson character.  It comes across in the way he roars his oratory and monologues across the airways.  This man is proud of his President, so much so that we went to great lengths to become Jefferson.

It makes me realize how powerful (and dangerous) it is to re-write history.  Even the most staunch Jefferson supporters should blush at the way his legacy has been delicately preserved.  But preservation has turned to cleansing, as not so endearing facts about his life are vehemently criticized.

Master of the Mountain

Mr. Wiencek states that none of the information presented in his text is in fact new, but one wouldn’t know this based upon to reaction to his, and other less than flattering works about Jefferson.  The problem is that over time, some have decided to dismiss the baser aspects of the man, whilst maintaining the Legend and Prestige.  This is disingenuous at best, and at it’s worst nearly criminal.  The goal of history is for present and future generations to look at events from the past, and learn from them what we can, in an attempt to repeat the good while being vigilant to prevent the bad.  But if we are unwilling to acknowledge that which we are not proud of, can we say an honest attempt at self-reflection and learning has been made?  I would like to see more movement in this direction.



The turn signal.

At one time this device was considered one of the most innovative creations of the modern era. No longer did drivers have to yell out the window or make hand gestures to each other in order to communicate. With a simple flick of the wrist, other motorist were alerted to your subsequent actions and movements.

It is no coincidence that over the past decade or so motor vehicle crashes appear to be on the rise. There are more distracted drivers on the road. This can be attributed to more attention grabbing technology being integrated into our vehicles, smart phones with their incessant chimes and alerts, as well as a general lackadaisical attitude taken towards driving.

From my own driving experience, I have noticed that fewer and fewer motorists are enlisting the use of the turn signal, alerting the rest of the traveling public to their desired movement. This type of behavior would seem inherently counterproductive to the greater goal of safe and efficient automobile travel. People simply fail to communicate their intentions.

But upon further thought, this thinking and behavior is not limited to the realm of driving. All throughout society, business deals have been halted, personal relationships falter, and even wars started because intentions were not clearly communicated. As a culture, we have begun to devalue intent, even going so far as to chastise individuals who take the time to spell things out. It is seen as excessive, or a waste of time.

There is something vulnerable about expressing your desires that mankind has come to loath. In this day and age of showing strength and strength only, any sign of humility is shunned. The problem then arises where individuals are left only with the alternative, which is to constantly make assumptions about others and their surrounding environment. Most people prefer this, as it lends to the perception of more control, or more power. But this is often not the case. An assumption can be one of the most risky actions a person can take.

Nothing is lost or surrendered by signaling a left turn. At the very least, your fellow motorists will know where you want to go. Who knows, They may even let you pass before them.