Something someone blogged in a protected post got me to reflecting… The subject was something about killer storms and religion, and how no matter the outcome the invisible space daddy gets credited for being a good guy. If you were spared he was looking out for you, if you were killed it was his will, and if you’re maimed and become a burden on your family and your community it was his plan. Seems a mite too easy and pat a collection of answers, to me, though I really have no reason to give a darn about any of it. But it got me to recalling a tragic coincidence and thinking about my own close call of the sort that most of us had as children.
Way back in the late 1980’s in the town where Amethyst and I grew up, I had a neighbor who was a terribly annoying religious zealot. I ended up more or less kinda sorta threatening the bastard with mayhem if he persisted in bringing the word to my door at least once and usually twice, sometimes three times a week — or even once more. He apparently figured that I was easy pickin’s because my life was in turmoil. Rather than being eager for salvation I was eager for some dimwit to give me an excuse to vent my frustration and rage physically upon his person even though it wasn’t him I was perpetually mad at, and I told him so. This is not the heathen you should be fucking with.
Some months, a single digit number of them, after he gave up pestering me, he went out one fine sunny afternoon to begin his commute to work. He hopped into his mid-size pickup truck, fired ‘er up, dropped ‘er into gear, and proceeded to crush his 18 month old son to death. I was angered by his carelessness and depressed as hell for weeks afterward, being a father with a child just a few months older. I couldn’t help but reflect upon a fine sunny summer day when I was but a pup and managed by my own foolishness to fall off of my bicycle just inches from the blade of a moving bulldozer — the operator of the machine had been watching, and stopped the thing before it crushed my skull. I jumped up and out of the way, and as soon as I was sure that I wasn’t dead I steeled myself for the inevitable screaming rage, derision, and admonitions about how lucky I was to have not been killed, but instead the operator just smiled and waggled a finger at me. Later he told me he was glad to see that I wasn’t dead, and asked me to continue staying well away from the heavy equipment that was being used to excavate for our swimming pool. I promised that I would, and I’ve been careful around heavy machinery ever since.
You see the next part coming, since I’m telling a story about a tragic coincidence.
A couple of decades or so after the kid was crushed in the town where I grew up, another religious zealot showed up at my door here in Dinkytown. He didn’t become a nuisance, perhaps because I made it quite clear, respectfully (more or less) but unequivocally clear, that I was not at all interested in hearing about his invisible friends. I heard later that he was some kind of lay preacher or something similar at a church here in town, establishments of which we have entirely too many. Some months later, on another fine, sunny day, he went out to make the commute to his swing shift job, hopped into his mid-size pickup truck which was the same make, model, and even color as the first guy’s, with the same chrome plated plastic fish symbol in the same place on the tailgate, and carelessly crushed his 20 months old son to death. Just as in the first instance, he would go on to say that he thought it was his wife’s responsibility to know where the kid was, and that it was simply their invisible friend’s will that the little dead kid was “called home”.
I just can’t see it that way. It ain’t to the glory of, isn’t the plan of, and isn’t a personal test delivered by some god or other that those children were killed by those upon whom they were most dependent and whom they trusted unquestioningly. It was simple negligence, being too lazy to do a walk-around before putting a vehicle into motion. Those 15 or 20 steps around the vehicle are just too much bother, and almost no one bothers. I do, and always have, but I’m weird in many ways. On those occasions when I might be tempted to get out of the weather just a bit sooner by foregoing that walk-around, I think of that guy with the dinged up steel hardhat and the red plastic Thermos jug cup of coffee in his hand, who saved my life and then allowed me to retain what was left of my dignity, and who was for that moment my very own personal savior.
Trust in your invisible friends if you’ve got ’em, but try to keep in mind that your driver’s ed instructor told you to always do a walk-around before getting behind the wheel. Maybe it was some gods who told ’em to say that stuff.