Enjoy them too...
Thinking of my last post. I mentioned that I saw it as my calling to be friends with those on the bottom of the heap, who may never change their destructive lifestyle. I just wanted to add one thing to that. That it it is important, I believe, to enjoy those people. Sometimes we have the idea that Christian mission is all intensely feeling for and seeking to bring new directions to people. What often happens is that we see people as "cases", that we need to exercise our religious duty upon. In some sort of sick way we are abusing those people. We are just using them to make ourselves feel good about ourselves. I believe it is important to see people as people, each with a personality and a journey. I believe it is important just to "be" with these people and allow them to "be". To enjoy who they are. I play table tennis, I chat and I joke. The Desiderata has these rather quaint words.... "Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit." While I might not want to call my friends "dull and ignorant", I do know that each has their story, their likes and dislikes, their learnings and I can find pleasure in just enjoying who they are. By allowing myself this pleasure I affirm them. I often find myself at 6p.m. on a Friday night exhausted after a busy day, not feeling like carrying on with the Drop-in centre at 6:30p.m. Then as I welcome each one and start to interact I come alive and enjoy the night.
Good bye boss..
I read the death notices every morning. (Not just to check if I am still alive!) This morning I noticed a death of a man in his 90's, I am sure he was my foreman when I started work as a plumbing apprentice. I appreciated him, he was a good man. When he met me he said, "You're Gus's boy? Your father was a good plumber, a good soldier and a good man. An all round good bugger." He knew my father when they were plumbing apprentices together and when they were serving overseas in WW2. (Dad was dead by this time) I worked for nearly three years on a big building site, there were 30- 40 plumbers and sheet metal workers and Bill was in charge of them. Bill was a short man, but had a commanding presence. He was polite but could talk straight when it was needed. We always knew when rain was coming, because Bill would start to limp.
New apprentices always had to put up with practical jokes. They were sent to the store for "left-handed screw drivers" "Come custard tarts" and "long waits". They were often set up for various practical jokes and it was important that you could take and give with good humour. But there were sometimes "initiations" that went beyond a joke. I saw an electrical contemporary who ended up stripped of his clothing, tied hand and foot and had pipe jointing goo in his hair and around his genitals and was crying on the floor of the electricians' workshop while his work "mates" stood around laughing. When I saw that I was horrified, particularly when some of the plumbers started saying that it was time they did it to their new boy. The day came when I was working in the workshop and three plumbers (on loan from Australia) came into the workshop with a glint in their eye. It was toward the end of the day and they had decided it was time to initiate the new "boy". They had the exits covered and were coming toward me. Terrified at what they intended to do, I grabbed a pair of big pipe tongs and said, "You will have to fight me to do it!" (I was very fit and quite strong in those days) As they came toward me and I readied myself to hit the first guy that attempted anything, ( and hit him hard because I knew I would probably only get one good shot) Bill entered the room, walked past them, and stood beside me with a tool in his hand, "And you'll have to fight me too! There will be none of that in this workshop!"
I would bike to work every morning and was most often a couple of minutes late. Bill called me into his office and said, "You are late and I have to dock you. I know, however, that you probably still start working before anybody else, so I will only dock your pays on Friday if you continue to be late. Try not to be, but that's the deal if you are." He was a very fair boss.
I recall after that job he was promoted to supervisor based at the office. A year or so later I was working at another site and he came to pick a plumber up to take him to a job. He saw me working, came in with the local foreman and said, "How are you doing Brownie?" I replied and we talked briefly. As he left I heard him say to the foreman, "Can I have Brownie and you can keep ........? He's a good bugger." Well Bill, you were a "good bugger" too. Good-bye boss.
I often think about people like Bill. He was wise, fair, hard working, sensitive, responsible and caring. He lived his life as a good responsible citizen, touching the lives of many people. I got a medal from the Governor General for things I do, but there are hundreds of "Bills" who live good lives, without whom life would be bleak indeed, but who never get the recognition they deserve.