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Some Unforgettable People

 
 
Endymion
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Sep, 2006 06:15 pm
hmmm that's a hard one...
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Nov, 2006 06:19 pm
Too often, I seem to be writing virtual obituaries. I don't intend it to be like that. When I informed an ex resident of our assistant manager's death, he said, "You're like the guy that always brings bad news. First, you told me about my good friend (a store clerk), now you tell me about her." When next I meet with him, I will be silent. My longtime assistant was found dead in his apartment, two weeks ago, a man this guy lived directly over for two or three years.

My assistant was an able worker, and his personality attracted lots of potential friends. Our relationship seemed ideal for the first three years. He was eager, supportive, and, I thought, a great pal. Eventually, he tired of the work, and me, and ever after blew hot and cold, both job and friendship wise.

With the coming of a new manager, the dynamics of the relationship came under further, much greater, stress. She fell in love with my assistant. Despite her own marriage, despite his brand new wedding, she pursued him with relentless intensity. He cursed her to me, but, in her presence, was wishy washy.

When the apt industry went on hard times, our occupancy sank to about 72%. With no traffic, and a constant loss of residents, maintenance and exterior work became the focus of our most opressing need. How the manager and my assistant responded was to sit in the office, along with the assistant mgr, and play and visit rather than address the property's problems. I warned the magr time and again, the assistant of mine was not getting vacancies ready. By the time the mgr got fired, we were sitting on 30 unpainted apartments.

My assistant quit after a new manager began renting the vacancies like a woman possessed. He had found himself working hard and long in an effort to keep up.

After he moved away, he held perhaps a dozen jobs in the next year. We kept in contact by email.

His love smitten friend, the ex manager, had been allowed to live on property. She, the assistant manager, and my assistant spent hours per day, seeking ways to undermine the new manager. Finally, a person with the same management company recognized the treachery and pursuaded management to run her off. When my assistant quit, months later, he followed her.

He had no family. He had divorced his wife and sent her out of state years earlier. So, when he died, his body was left in limbo. The ex manager is close to securing custody, after three weeks. Burial should take place shortly thereafter, at the Veteran's Cemetary.

My feelings about this man have been mixed for several years. When first I met him, he showed me his collection of Nazi artifacts and quite a few guns. He confessed to contributing money to David Duke's campaign. I was afraid of him for a time, until it became plain he was lonely. In the early days, he always had a smile and eagerly pulled a bit more than his share of the load. He made friends with four or five black persons that we dealt with. He seemed to genuinely like these folk, although he privately cursed Martin Luther King and Jesse Jackson.

As I say, he was hot and cold. I liked him, but disliked him. I intend being there to pay my respects to friendly side of the man.
0 Replies
 
Tai Chi
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Nov, 2006 06:41 pm
Thanks for posting these stories, edgar. It's so hard isn't it when we're all such a mass of contradictions, and then there's the image we try to project (royal "we" sorry -- not meaning to drag you into my thoughts) that is only such a small part of what we're really all about.
I respect the fact that you want to honour/remember the part of this person that you liked.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Nov, 2006 06:45 pm
He had a really great side, but was torn by a lifetime of loneliness and feelings of rejection. His parents died when he was very young. He knocked about on his own nearly all his life.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 2 Dec, 2006 09:36 am
I expected something positive to develop, concerning my ex assistant, burial-wise, yesterday, but so far, nothing. Perhaps Monday -

I went from posting this note to my email and learned his body will be signed over to her this evening. The funeral will be next week.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Dec, 2006 06:56 pm
Today, we buried my ex assistant. At two fifteen, we assembled at the administrative building of the Veteran's Memorial Cemetery. He had wanted to be cremated, but he had no family, hence, no one to give permission. Perhaps fifteen cars lined up for the procession from there to the back of the lot for a ceremony, of sorts. I was enlisted as a pallbearer. After we placed the casket on the stand, a woman I did not know, but who knew the man very well, read a two page statement she had herself written. There was one bouquet. We sang Amazing Grace. We were asked if anybody wished to say a few words. My ex manager's son spoke, unintelligibly to me, and then read a poem he himself wrote. It is the first funeral I have attended, in which there was no minister to speak and pray. We filed past the closed casket, and it was over. After visiting a few moments and hugging a few people, I drove away. I went past my father-in-law's grave on the way out. My wife has told me this is where she will put me, should I go first. Fine with me. It is beautiful out there. Lately, they have taken to erecting headstones to emulate the ones at Arlington National Cemetery. I could do a lot worse. Oh, I failed to mention, my ex assistant's name was George. Good-bye, George. You were perhaps too young, at 55, but, who is to say? At least you got a good resting place. Hope your passing was easy.
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realjohnboy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Dec, 2006 08:40 pm
Thank you, edgar, for telling the story through to its end. You have been reporting on this for a week or so, without much response. But that doesn't mean we were not watching.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Dec, 2006 08:50 pm
It's a toughie to converse on, I guess. They held his body a full month. The autopsy said he had heart disease as a cause.
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Diane
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Dec, 2006 12:27 am
Edgar, I've been slowly reading more on a2k and was lucky enough to find this thread.

One thing you do that I find fascinating, it to see and accept a person as a whole including their less attractive characteristics. That is what being human is all about. The best and the worst. You write of these people with respect and dignity even though you speak of not liking them because of bigotry or meanness.

To me, this shows your own quiet dignity and your deep caring for the human race. That is pretty rare these days. It's good knowing people like you can observe and write about the good and bad as parts of a whole.

Looking forward to reading much more.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Dec, 2006 05:48 am
I have some more such stories in my head, Diane. Just waiting until the time is ripe. Happily, not all involve funerals.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 9 Dec, 2006 10:48 am
The Prophet


Four years ago, the bosses gave me permission to have a part time helper. For a few weeks we interviewed a string of the mostly inept and/or otherwise misfits in need of a low wage 32 hour week. At last, there were two applicants that seemed capable and knowledgeable enough to be taken seriously. The younger, stronger of the two got passed over, because, I surmised, he merely needed a fill-in for a few months in the winter. He seemed almost certain to quit when his regular work picked up.

Enter Johnny Thomas. Johnny was a short blond, and, although somewhat overweight, appeared to be energetic and certainly spoke the right language for the sort of job we had in mind. He informed me right off that he was on disability, due to a bad back, but that for the hours involved and the nature of the tasks involved, he certainly was our man. He did not require high pay, for, the government would penalize him for making too much. What he needed mainly was the excercise, the feeling of performing a worthwhile service, although the few extra bucks would certainly help him out, his being a family man. Excellent.

I explained all of this to the manager, who cleared it with her supervisor; then Johnny Thomas became our new hand.

Johnny worked good. I set him to the task of rebuilding rotted patios and repairing siding. He brought with him expensive battery operated tools. He walked on eggshells for about six months, until he felt secure in his new position. Once relaxed, he still worked well most of the time, but his propensity to expound at great length, over his family situation and his religious conviction began to hold sway.

Early on, when Johnny mentioned the topic of God, I said, most emphatically, "I don't want to discuss religion." I had not yet recovered from a six year long ordeal of getting preached to daily by a lead man that also screwed me over as a matter of course.

He said he did not believe in religion. He was something else: a prophet, of the same fabric as Abraham. He had the ability to funnel healing, straight from God to the afflicted. Those who scorn a prophet of the Lord, woe be unto them. "It's not me. God does it." If a person should argue a different concept than his own, of Jesus, the person was sure to pay for it. As one instance, a man who rebuked his concept went to the hospital with an anurism. Johnny nodded knowingly. "You see?" he said. "He told me I didn't know enough about the real Jesus. I can't do anything, but God has his way with these people." Others have died, he explained to me, over the course of time, in varying ways.

His personal life entered into the mix, bizarrely, also, but I will not go there, although therein lies some of the most telling episodes.

When he learned of my cancer, he asked for permission to pray for me. "Sure," I replied. "It certainly couldn't hurt to get prayed over."

He said we ought to go behind the storage shed, about an hour from then. "Okay. I will meet with you then," I said.

A while later, I found Johnny. "I already went back there and prayed for you," he said. "From now on, you can throw away the treatments you are using."

I thanked him, but, wisely, I think, continued with my program. He didn't like to see that. As he told another person on the job, "It isn't necessary for him to keep on taking that stuff. I've already taken care of it."

Once, working in a vacant apartment, he claimed, he was confronted by a man's spirit. It appeared in the form of a human, and quickly vanished. He told our new make ready man so many tales about spirits, it began to infect his mind. The make ready guy lay down on the carpet in the apartment just mentioned, a day later. He was pinned to the floor by the spirit Johnny had described to him, for at least a minute or two, before it disappeared.

Johnny filled me in on a prophet's view of the world. No illicit sex, and only a holy purified version of it within the marriage. On the job, I saw a few disturbing incidents. We had to replace an evaporator in an apartment. Three young girls were in there, day sleepers. I was in the apartment for about two hours with my helper. During this time, the girls slumbered, oblivious of us. I got called away and left Johnny there to finish up. He came away from that forty minutes alone, with a different sort of story. He said the girls displayed themselves to him in carnal, erotic ways. (He ought to have minded his own business, and he would not have known what they looked like.) He said he would not work in apartments under such conditions in the future. But, more and more, he gravitates to the ones he thinks might afford him a view or a bit of affection. Not that he performs acts with any of them. It seems to be a form of voyerism and a need to be desired. Once, a woman resident rushed up to me and gave me a great hug. I had not solicited her affection, and it was a surprise. I allowed the hug, but, for me, that was the total of it; nothing reciprocated. Johnny saw this. "If she ever does me like that, I'm going to the management." But, from then on, He became especially nice and solicitous toward her.

Yesterday, he told a temp from the agency that a resident deliberately parked her car just near enough to his truck that her open door scraped the side without denting it. He went on to charge that the word must be spread around his home area about his new Tacoma, reasoning that to be so, because he parks away from all vehicles at the parkingg lots, but when he comes out of the store, vehicles are crowded close around it.

Lately, we received a bonus for Christmas. Johnny suddenly began to treat us all like enemies. He spent a week ranting to one and all. The gist of it was, he figures he ought to be paid a low wage all year, keeping in compliance with the government requirements, but at the end of the year, should get a large tax free bonus. He is well aware that we at the complex have no authority in the matter, but rails against us, mainly behind our backs, and treats us like the enemy. I told the boss that I would prefer to see him terminated than have this poisoning of the work atmosphere, and she said she now regrets even helping him get a bonus. She did forward his request about the low wage/year end bonus to the supervisor. She was surprised he was handicapped. This put a new complexion on the matter. They have requested he come to the corporate office to pow wow on Monday morning.

His demeanor became instantly sweet. Now we just have to let it play out in its own way. The handicapped have certain legal rights that can complicate what otherwise might seem very simple.

Extra note: I've skipped over many of the more fantastic story lines, in the interest of saving space and not delving into the man's personal life.
0 Replies
 
Tai Chi
 
  1  
Reply Sat 9 Dec, 2006 01:26 pm
Why is it that people who set out to make themselves important (he's a prophet, a healer...and yet he himself is handicapped) never recognize the lack of logic in their fantasies?

Edgar, I found your story very interesting; but then, human nature really does provide the most interesting stories, doesn't it?
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 9 Dec, 2006 01:59 pm
Every person alive (or dead, for that matter) has the stuff of at least an article or short story in them.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Dec, 2006 05:55 am
Johnny, in the above story, has been given 16 hours of work per week. He must provide a doctor's list of limitations. His bad attitude persists. Today, behind my back, he said, "I am not going to do make ready work. I am a $9 an hour maintenance technician. I'll quit right now." So forth. It will be a few days, or even a week, to see how this is going to play. I'm wishing he would find cause to leave our employ.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Jan, 2007 10:27 pm
"The Prophet" has moved on. His paranoia drove him to reject us at last. Yippee.
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Endymion
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Jan, 2007 06:50 am
I'm glad for you Edgar

And an excellent read
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 31 Jan, 2007 10:49 pm
When I was twenty two, I moved, fresh out of the Navy, to the edge of San Francisco's Chinatown. I chose to live there, because I had developed a taste for their food, when overseas. Japanese food, also. At first, I lived for two months on my unemployment checks, renting a cheap room, often heating my meals on a hot plate, playing my records during the day, going to movies and a few restaurants by evening. There was a fellow at the Coffee Gallery, who called Bob Dylan "the leader," and who sang Dylan's songs to an acoustic guitar.

A fellow approached me in the line at the employment office. He asked if I would like to earn cash money, soliciting. I certainly would. Unemployment checks don't buy much.

His name was Detroit Benson. I use his real name, for he would be over one hundred if still alive. He looked like a cross between George Foreman and Fats Domino. Said he represented The Worldwide Brotherhood Mission, which I was never to see. He always very carefully picked up his permits to ask people for money, and truthfully informed the city government of his intended territory for the week. Then we rode to the chosen neighborhoods and knocked on doors. On good days, Benson split the take with us, 50/50. Other times, he allowed us 100%.

Once a month, we ventured into Chinatown.

Detroit kept us together for these forays, relying on the persuasion of gang presence when facing shopkeepers, who were essentially alone. Informed of the purpose of our visits, they feigned illness, by hobbling around the floor and claiming to have no money as a result. When displaying his credentials, Detroit made sure he flashed a badge, which he somehow got from an acquaintance. "Everybody gives," he always said in his amiable voice. Feeling trapped, they usually gave us something. They called the police as soon as we left, and we were ordered to quit soliciting there that week.

He called me "Mason," because he said I reminded him of James Mason, the actor. He liked having me there, because he thought the look in my eyes had just the right effect. I only lasted a week and a half. Not my thing.

After that, I went job hunting in earnest and went off unemplyment.
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Endymion
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 May, 2007 07:48 pm
edgarblythe wrote:
When I was twenty two, I moved, fresh out of the Navy, to the edge of San Francisco's Chinatown. I chose to live there, because I had developed a taste for their food, when overseas.


I can understand this. Got any more, Edgar?
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 May, 2007 08:03 pm
indeed i do, endy
indeed i do
all i needed was that amount of encouragement
will get on it in the coming days
0 Replies
 
Endymion
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 May, 2007 08:23 pm
I'll wait here :wink:
0 Replies
 
 

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