Shootin' the Breeze

by "Bummer"

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February 2009

Note from Bummer: A few years ago someone who had never read the Outspokin’ asked me what kind of a column I wrote, when I told them what I did for the magazine. I answered it was primarily for entertainment, an editorial column, a break from the serious legislative content. It’s just me “Shootin’ the Breeze” with whoever wants to listen (or I guess I should say read) and usually has nothing to do with anything.
    Soon, within the next few months, we should have quite a few new Outspokin’ readers due to the CMRO/ABATE Inc. reconciliation and I just felt this should be explained to them. So, don’t be surprised if I run this little introduction for their benefit for the next few months.

    Back in the early 1970’s I owned a number of British bikes. At various times they were a Royal Enfield, a BSA, a Norton and two Triumphs. About 1977 I bought my first Harley and I’ve stayed with that particular flavor of motorcycle ever since, for no reason other than I found them to be “understandable” to someone with my aversion to turning a wrench (at least they were before they had on-board computers and all that other crap). Oh, I do it when I gotta. I’m rather proud to say that in 35+ continuous years of riding I’ve only had a bike towed or loaded on the back of a pick ‘em up truck three times. And those three times were for a blown tire and two confrontations with the police, who insisted I not ride and instead go away with them (betcha I coulda done it handcuffs or not). I still carry a hefty set of tools at all times when I ride just in case. But these days, for the really important stuff, I depend on a bike shop I trust or the assistance of a friend named Deeter who lives just to wrench on things.

    Deeter likes turning a wrench so much that on more than a few occasions when he and I were cruising down the road we’d have to stop so he could lend assistance for anyone we’d pass. Now, I’m not talking about break downs on the side of the road here, ANY of us would probably stop for that (or at least I hope so). I’m talking about things like some stranger in his front yard having trouble with his lawn mower or once to help a farmer with his tractor. I don’t think he could stop himself from doing this kinda stuff even if he wanted to. He’d just pull over, walk towards the problem like a damned zombie and start grabbing tools.

    I’m sure we’ve all known others who’ve had that kind of “calling” too in other forms. It might be the woman who just can’t help herself from dancing whenever she hears good music. It could be the person who simply HAS to play an instrument of some kind or a really good teacher who couldn’t even think of doing anything else but teach.

    We can even see it to some degree in other species. I’ve always wondered why the heck dogs insist on chasing cars and bikes cruising past their yards and recently read that it’s because of their instinctive need to herd things, like sheep or cattle, and they’re just acting on that when they see anything moving away from them. They chase it to get it back with their herd even if they don’t have a herd.

    Well, of course I’m not saying that all human “callings” are instinctive or that it has anything to do with breeding, but maybe that’s what makes the difference between a really good mechanic and one that’s not so good. The good one has a calling for it and because of that learns it with less effort. They become better at it and almost need to do it to the best of their ability, more so than someone who just fell into the job. Of course the same can be true with any profession or with any endeavor.

    I’m married to a woman who has an absolute passion for animals. It doesn’t matter if it’s a frog or a horse, if it’s a slimy thing crawling across the sidewalk or a puppy. She’ll still bend over and pick it up (well, not a horse of course) and say, “Isn’t it cute?” and want to bring it home with her. I have a tuff time dealing with her desire to live with anything that breathes. She’d make a great veterinarian if it weren’t for the fact that she has such a soft heart and I’m sure a vet has to deal with some pretty sad cases sometimes.

    Most of us have noticed that some things just come easy for us and some don’t. I managed to graduate from high school and took a few college courses without the need for algebra. To this day I have no idea what the hell things like trigonometry and calculus are except that they have something to do with math. The weird thing is that I used math all the time when I worked as a materials handler and had to keep a running daily inventory on a boatload of auto parts in an assembly plant. But once I ran out of fingers and toes to count on, I was screwed and had to whip out a calculator.

    The point of all this is I keep seeing and being confronted with people who really shouldn’t be doing what they are for a living. It could be a check out girl at a department store (I’m writing this in December after an excursion into the Christmas rush madness) or it could be a doctor who really gives less of a damn about his patients then he does about his golf handicap. It might be a politician whose only thoughts have degenerated into holding onto his office at any cost or a cop who never really considered the phrase “To Protect and Serve”.

    Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could find their own niche if life and had the means to pursue whatever calling they might have? I’m sure the world would be a better place in which to live.


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