SANDPAPER

Some folks are just plain hard to like. I like down to earth people, they’re easy to be around. I know it’s easy to like people that we have more in common with, but there is a percentage of people out there that just seem to be downright nasty.

I try to go out of my way to get along with people, especially ones that I have to see on a regular basis. And, for the most part, I’ve been fairly successful at it, but I don’t walk on water…

There have been a handful of folks that are what the preachers like to call your “sandpaper”. Yeah, they rub me the wrong way and grind my grace down till there’s nothing left.

There’s a guy I see all the time at the gym that fits that description. He’s got the personality of a box of rocks. Even so, for years I’d go out of my way to be cordial toward him.

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Right before Christmas, about seven or eight years back, I went around greeting folks and wishing them a Merry Christmas before I left the gym. I went up to Mr. Rocks and offered a handshake along with a “Merry Christmas.” He yanked his ear buds out, rolled his eyes, gave an annoyed huff, and begrudgingly gave a quick handshake without looking at me. He plugged his music back in his ear without ever looking at me. That was the last time I acknowledged his existence.

About a year and a half ago I sat down on a machine Mr. Personality was planning on using. I didn’t know it, but I wouldn’t have altered my plans for him anyway. I had my ear buds in so I assume he thought I had music playing, I didn’t. He mumbled extreme profanity at me, worse than anybody ever had in my life that I didn’t end up fighting.

I followed Mr. Jerk with my eyes on fire waiting for him to look at me so I could call him out. He didn’t look.

I have to admit, after my initial rage subsided, I was pretty proud of myself for not pursuing Mr. Idiot Head. But my initial feeling based in pride was far less than perfect.

I’m not sure why folks decide not to like others. I guess it’s the way they look and how they interact with others. I tend to be an extrovert and I carry myself with confidence, maybe too much. But I try to live my life by the teachings in the Good Book. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

It’s easy to live at peace with people that we get along with. Dealing with the ones that test our pride and patience are a different matter. I know there was no victory in not getting into a physical altercation. My thoughts failed me. Not to mention it’s a struggle not to see that guy almost daily and not loathe him.

I need the constant reminder that God loves everyone equally, even Mr. Personality. I too often miss my calling to have love and compassion for others. I like to like the likable… it’s easy. It’s probably not a coincidence that I’ll have another opportunity to show the grace to Mr. Human that is bestowed upon me.

Do you have a “sandpaper” in your life?

SECOND VERSE – SAME AS THE FIRST

“Second verse – same as the first,” he said as he stared at his computer screen. He didn’t look up.

I smiled at the young man. He had a round head and beard that would have made Grizzly Adams proud. I could sense the lady in line behind me.

“You know who sang that song?” I asked the Fed Ex clerk. He didn’t know he’d just encountered a music trivia buff.

I was sending two Fed Ex envelopes to two different addresses and the kid asked me to confirm all the shipping info, the shipper’s address and the shippe’s address. (My contribution to the English language there). After he asked me to confirm is when he said that line trying to be clever. I thought he was, but obviously not clever enough to know the origin of it.

“No,” the kid didn’t hesitate.

“Herman’s Hermits,” I enlightened the youngster.

“Never heard of ’em,” the kid gave me an unimpressed glance and went back to punching the keyboard with his pudgy fingers.

I pressed the green “Ship” button. “It’s the Henry The V111th song,” I told the kid to see if that might ring a bell for him.

I turned slightly to make sure the lady behind me was still there. She was. The kid shot me an annoyed look as my receipt and tracking number was being printed. For just a fraction of a millisecond I thought about singing the chorus to the kid. I was certain that he’d have to have heard that song, even in his short life.

“Here’s your tracking number,” the kid circled it at the top of the receipt. He had no interest in knowing the who, what, where, when, and why of that saying that he spouted with pride just a couple of minutes earlier.

“Thanks,” I told him and walked out.

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That’s one sure way of getting a song stuck in your head. I thought about the old movies of the Herman’s Hermits with girls chasing them around like they were the Beatles, the group they were imitating. I remembered Peter Noonan, the lead singer of the Herman’s Hermits, in cartoon form, on Scooby Doo when I was a kid.

I hopped in my truck, fired it up, and started singing out loud, with the heavy English brogue accent for authenticity,

“I’m Inery the eighth I am

Inery the eighth I am, I am

I got married to the widows next daw

She’s been married seven time befaw

And every one was an Inery, (Inery!)

She didn’t wanna Willy or a Sam (Not a Sam!)

I’m the eight old man I’m Inery

Inery the eighth I am

Second verse – same as the first.”

I sang it a few more times. I sang it enough times to get it out of my system. It’s kinda like scratching an itch.

When a person hears something that resonates or makes sense to them they keep it. They think enough of it to repeat it, even if they don’t know the origin.

I hear people quote “The Golden Rule” loud and often. It just makes sense to them, but the majority don’t know it’s the common sense God designed into them that speaks to their heart from Matthew 7:12.

I don’t do it to rain on their parade, but I don’t mind telling them that it was a quote from Jesus. True wisdom and enlightenment comes from God.

The origin of some words don’t mean a lot. Some do. Some words can lead to an eternity with the Author…

PERSONALLY

A guy in a silver, I think a Honda Accord, or something like that, proceeded to impede the wide open lane I was speeding along in at the last second. I jumped on the brakes. This kind of thing happens to me daily… and I take it personally.

When you get older you start to say the same things over and over. Maybe it’s because we begin to run out of new things to say. Or maybe it’s because we think we’re so smart that our wisdom should be bestowed upon the world on a regular basis. Or maybe it’s because we’re trying to remind ourselves of things we believe are important. Whatever the reason, here I go again.

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I think putting a person behind the wheel of an automobile is more effective than hooking them up to a lie detector and giving them the third degree. I’m thinking that watching a person conduct themselves in traffic might be more telling than if you shot them full of sodium Pentothal, you know, truth serum.

So as to stay out of the group known as hypocrites, as much as that’s possible in this fallen world, I confess that I’m a speeder. To be fair, I come by it honestly; my dad was a speeder. And my mom is still a speedster. I guess I fit nicely into that group that blames others for their actions…

The guy in the silver sedan doesn’t have the chronic need for speed disease like me. I knew that because he was following a car in the middle lane for half a mile as I was flying up the fast lane. His desire wasn’t for speed, it was for something else.

Mr. Silver Sedan decided to take it even slower than he’d been doing in the middle lane once he got in front of me. This is people talking with their vehicles. Mr. Silver was saying something like, “So you’re in a hurry huh?” That’s when I talked back by tailgating him at an unsafe distance.

I end our in traffic conversation by hitting the brakes, letting the car in the middle lane sail by, and gun it into the open right hand lane and punch it to take my spot in front of Mr. Silver.

The problem of reading others actions in traffic is that sometimes we don’t hear them right. Sometimes we, or I, take things too personally. Pride has a way of making us see things that aren’t really there.

Not too long ago I got cut off by an SUV. I shook my head and chalked it up to another person trying to teach me a lesson. Then they quickly turned. They’d almost missed their turn. And I’d made it all about me…

“… Do not think of yourself more highly than you should, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

You know you’re in a bad place, and I don’t mean on the road, when you’re taking things personally.

SPRING CLEANING

My closet got a spring cleaning yesterday. It was overdue I suppose, it’s been more than a half a decade since that closet got its last one. It wasn’t my idea so I didn’t see the need of my participation.

Some folks are better at cleaning, which is only part of the tradition of Spring cleaning, than others. The proficient closet spring cleaners are the ones that leave their emotions in the bedroom and go to the closet with a “Take-no-prisoners” attitude.

By the time I got home from work, yup, some of us still work on Saturday, the closet spring cleaning was done. And sure enough, there were three big plastic trash bags of my stuff that had gotten picked to go to the less fortunate. I’m always amazed at how easy it is for some adults to determine what is best for another… 🤨

I confess I still have more than my fair share of sweatshirts that have holes the size of softballs. And still another portion of the sweatshirts that held up to the years of heavy barbells on my shoulders that are now as close to see through as possible. They passed threadbare status years ago.

Another confessional truth is that I have more tennis shoes than a small shoe store. These are different than the sweatshirts, my tennis shoes almost all look like they’ve barely been used. Some of it is due to the ball of my left finicky foot. The rest is due to the fact that I guess I have a tennis shoe fetish.

Sure enough, more than two of the plastic trash bags were filled with my tennis shoes. I sorted through them…

There was a time when I’d have unloaded most of those tennis shoes. The truth is that I won’t wear them again, I just like them and see no point of throwing something out if it still has some use left to it.

I guess I come by it honestly. My mom has magazines and shoes from decades ago, just in case… of what I don’t know… She has erasers that are fossilized, but you never know.

I fished out one red and black pair of Under Armour tennis shoes out of the trash bags and gave a forlorn look to the rest of them. I probably won’t ever wear them again, but it’s the principle I guess.

Spring cleaning will come to other parts of the house, the outside too, but not everything will get treated like my tennis shoes. Some items will get a stay of evacuation.

There’s dog leashes in the drawer. There are stuffed animal chew toys smattered about. And Larry’s dog beds are still here. He’s been gone since November, but none of us are ready or willing to part with them yet.

I have a hat, not a fancy one, that my dad used to wear sometimes in the summertime when he golfed. God took my dad home nine years ago May 7th. Spring cleaning will never come between me and that hat, not that anyone would try that knows the story behind it.

I have a lot of Bibles too. Study ones, different translations, even my first one. Spring cleaning will only mean they get dusted… and hopefully used.

We won’t take any of our keepsakes with us when it’s our turn to be called home, but till then they remind us of what we value, dusty or Spring cleaned.

CAR GUY

Some passions last a life time. The passions have different names; hobbies, side jobs, favorite pastime, recreation, relaxation, diversion, and amusement and so on.

The majority of folks have more than one. I have several; working out, writing – including music, and playing guitar are my biggies. But one of my passions started a long time ago, probably about the same time as my passion for sports.

I’m a car guy. Ever since I was a little kid I had a thing for cars. Like a lot of little boys, I was one of them that gawked and gave the thumbs up to the muscle cars. I couldn’t begin to count how many times I said “Cool Car!” as a kid.

I appreciate cars like other folks do fine art. In fact, I liken them to be about the same. I like to call nice cars “rolling art”.

My first car was a 1970 Mercury Cyclone. It had a 351 Cleveland with 11 to 1 compression pistons, headers, hi rise Edelbrock aluminum manifold with a Holly 750 Double Pumper carb on top. It also had 4-11 gears in the rear end which helped it lurch off the line and get to top speed asap.

Since that time I’ve had scads of cars, too many to even recall, but a few stand out along the way. One of the cars I had when the kids were little was a ’64 ‘Vette convertible. It was white with red interior. I’m a sucker for red and white or white on red sports cars… but I’m a car guy.

As much as I enjoy hobbies, I don’t idolize them like a lot of people do these days. I sold that ’64 just before the big run up in classic cars, but I still made a little money on it, which is part of enjoying the hobby.

I appreciate the finer things in life, but they have zero value compared to the things the majority of us value the most. My faith in God comes first. Like King David said, “All things come from Your hand”. That includes salvation.

Long before I was a parent I was a car guy, but being a parent means everything compared to a measly metal and fiberglass internal combustion vehicle.

Like a lot of people, I regret selling that ’64 Corvette. It would be worth a whole lot more now than when I sold it, but that’s not why I lament selling the old car.

One of my favorite pictures of the girls when they were young was in that ’64 ‘Vette. I cherish the picture because of them, not the car, it was just the cool setting.

This was almost twenty years ago. The little one is standing in the seat.

I’ve had my eye out for a car like that ’64 for more than the last ten years. One reason is because it’s a cool car, but the biggest reason is because I’ve wanted to recreate that moment from their childhood again now that they’re all adults.

This is one of those blessings and lessons that I don’t take for granted. The opportunity popped up to re-create that picture with a car that I got a deal on that will allow me to re-sell it and make a few bucks if I go that route again.

I made them pose exactly like when they were little.

I love that car because I’m a car guy. The best part about those cars are my girls. Because first and foremost I’m a dad guy…