Tag Archives: United States

Equality, Religion, and Lady Justice


My grandfather was born in 1905. He was a man of his times with the same attitudes as other people of the Edwardian era. But, in some ways he was ahead of some people in the 21st century. The last years of his life he tried to cram a lifetime of wisdom into a sixteen year old boy – me. Once he said,

“Joe, one day you may have to hire someone for a job. You hire the first person who can do the job. You are trying to hire someone because either you are losing money without someone in that position, or you will make more money when you put someone in that position. It does not matter if they are a man or a woman, black or white, Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, or Atheist. If you don’t hire the first person who can do the job, you just take the money out of your pocket, put it in an ashtray, and burn it up. Because, that is what you are doing when you don’t give someone a job for reasons that have nothing to do with the job.”

My grandfather carried that attitude over to his customers too. In the 1940s and 1950s, if you were a homosexual you stayed in the closet. Not only would homosexuals have a hard time finding employment, but some public places refused their business. My mother said she could always tell when a homosexual couple was in my grandfather’s shop. He would be jingling the change in his pocket while quietly humming “I’m in the Money.” If other shop owners did not want your business for any reason; you were welcomed in my grandfather’s shop, and he treated all of his customers with the same respect.

This week I heard a man who is in the escrow business talking about losing business. You see, many of his employees are women and his conservative Muslim customers have been asking him to give them a man to handle their business. When he says no, they go back to the bank and complain. Then he has to tell the bank no too.

Now I am all for religious freedom, but I began to think about this. I also thought about what that would mean in my life. You see both of my editors are women, the cover artists on my short list to do my next book cover are all women. Most (not all) of my beta readers are women, my best friendships (and worst enemies) are women – platonic of course. Hell even my mother and my girlfriend are women. Now when I am looking to hire someone, I follow my grandfather’s advice, but most of the people interested in doing the kind of work I need done are women. As far as friendships go, there is a huge difference between having a woman for a friend and having a man for a friend. My male friends and I discuss totally different topics and some of the stuff we do is different from the conversations and activities I have with my platonic females friends.

Now we have laws in the United States that say you cannot discriminate against someone because of their sex. But, at the same time, the government in the United States is bending over backwards for Muslims in this country (democrats and republicans), and that is why employers who are already yielding to the “please no women” requests from conservative Muslims are not getting in trouble with the government. It has been four days since the first terrorist attacks in Paris. The French President from his very first public statement has said these acts were committed by Muslim extremist terrorists. Our government is still refusing to call them that.

Anyway, back to my thoughts on this issue. Like I said, I am a big supporter of religious freedom. But here is my view. If the only women I had any contact with were all in my family, if I never worked with women, or offered work to women, my life would be dramatically different. My quality of life would be nothing like it is today. And I am not talking about money, I am talking about those things that give meaning to our lives (though my income would probably be less too).

This also goes against everything I believe in – thanks to the upbringing I got from my grandfather. And if those two are not enough? It is against the law, even if our goverment will not enforce those laws.

So, not only do I applaud that man’s stance, but I join him. I understand orthodox Islam, probably better than most Americans. But this is the United States. I welcome you to immigrate here legally, no matter where you come from or what your religion is. The United States is a good place to live, not perfect, but good. I encourage all people to practice their religion as they feel led too (as long as you are not doing harm to others). But, in the United States it is the law and our desire, that as Americans women should have the same opportunities as men.  What they do with that opportunity is – well – that is their Freedom of Choice. Act as you want in the privacy of your own home, but in business and the work place – women in this country are given equality with men by law. If you do not like that, you need to learn how to accept that or find someplace more agreeable to you.

I’m not trying to be hateful or anything like that. This country is more than 200 years old. Our Declaration of Independence states fairly well what we as Americans think of freedom and equality. They signed that document in 1776. We were not even close to living up to those words of equality and freedom back then. We are doing a lot better now, but we still need to do some more work. So, you see, we are not going to start reducing freedom and equality because it conflicts with someone’s religion. As a matter of fact we are going to continue to work harder at making sure equality of opportunity and freedom of choice are expanded even more in the United States.

Oh, and one more thing I’m am mostly conservative, and libertarian on the rest. So, if you think my stance on equality and freedom are too much for you, just wait until you hear what working class liberals have to say on the subject.

(Yes, I know there is still discrimination going on, but as all of you know it is impossible to rid ourselves of all the ignorant people).

 

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Veteran’s Day 11 Novemeber 2013


Monday, Veteran’s Day, I am taking a vacation day. It’s one of those ‘family things’, my step-dad did it and so do I (we are both veterans). Panera Bread is offering current and veteran members of the military a lunch on Panera Bread, wear your uniform, show your ID card or discharge papers and lunch is on them. Many places have offers to those who are and have served. It wasn’t always like that.

I have a book in my library written by a college professor in which he answers questions from people of an opposite political opinion than his. I have not forgotten his name or that of his book’s, I am just not promoting them. I want to mention two of the questions he answered.

First, he addressed Vietnam veterans being spit on when they returned from Vietnam. He said this supposedly happened, but there is no proof it ever happened, not even once. I went in the navy five years after Vietnam. I remember being called baby killer and someone spitting on me, and we were treated a lot better than those men and women five years before us. Bill, my step-dad and a Vietnam veteran, he was spit on and worse. Sorry professor, you got that one wrong.

Second, he addressed the accusation that people of his political opinion are weak or even anti-national defense. The rest of this chapter was spent making the point that man-made global warming (the book was published before the term was changed to “man-made climate change” to cover downward changes in temperature as well) is a national defense issue and since his side is very strong on man-made global warming, then his side is actually very strong on national defense. Professor, when people point a finger at you and say, “You are weak on national defense” I may not know the specific issue they are thinking about, but I can tell you it is not climate change, they already know where you stand on climate change.

You see Vietnam Vets, like my step-dad and some of my friends; they were treated pretty bad when they came home. My group, those of us who served between 1975 and 1991, we were pretty much ignored except by a few hostile people left over from Vietnam protesting days. I remember when Operation Desert Shield started (when we began deploying people for the first Gulf War) the anti-war protests started again. There was a backlash against the protestors across the nation by the middle and lower classes of our country. Those from the Vietnam protests days, who were organizing protests for the Gulf War, were shocked by the backlash; they did not see this during their earlier Vietnam protests. They quickly came out with statements that they were against the war, but supported the troops. The public did not believe them, and though they continued their protests, they tuned it down a little bit.

Those vets, the first Gulf War vets, were treated pretty good by the people when they came home, and today’s veterans are treated even better (though the United States government never has done a very good job supporting veterans). I support the better treatment, the way the men and women were treated when they came home from the Vietnam War was a national disgrace. I saw their treatment with my own eyes, and no book by a college professor will ever convince me I did not see what I saw.

Here is my deal. I do not mind the protests, it is an expression of freedom of speech, it is our constitution in action. When I joined the navy I swore to obey the President, but I swore to protect and defend the constitution from all enemies. I understand why some people mistreat veterans, to them the members of the military are the war (some of them even believe people in the military like killing people) and they feel justified in their actions. But, I’ll keep my opinions on those people and their actions to myself.

I know people (some are friends of mine), who say war is not necessary there is always another way. There is always another way and I am glad for those people who believe this, I encourage them and would like nothing better than to see all the people of the world believe this one day, then maybe we could end wars.

I decided to serve in the military because there are some wars that have to be fought. You talk with men and women who have served and you will receive many reasons for why they volunteered. Bring up “defending those who cannot defend themselves” and without exception every one of those veterans will agree. You can hold up Hitler or any other person who needs to be stopped and I will agree with you they should be stopped, but not by war. They should be stopped by other means.

The people in Hitler’s concentration camps and gashouses, the Kurds gassed by Sadam Hussein just before the second Gulf War, the victims of genocide in Bosnia, Africa, Central and South America, you cannot protect them with sanctions and rhetoric. These are men, women, and child tortured and murdered while we try other means. The longer we try those other means the more victims are created.

The problem with wars are the leaders and celebrities both for and against, they are only concerned with winning a political argument. The people who stand to make money from war get their “boys & girls” on the hill to wave the flag and talk about patriotism. Their political opponents scream about blood for oil or whatever happens to be the expeditious slogan of the day; during Bosnia, the opponents stated the president was trying to get attention off his scandals and the attempts to impeach him, by going to war. The people who propose war rarely do it for the right reasons, to defend those who cannot defend themselves. Those who oppose war too often ignore those who cannot defend themselves – out of sight, out of mind.

Most of the wars my country has fought in the last 100 years should not have been fought, and there are many other wars that should have been fought (to defend people who could not defend themselves), but were not fought.

To me the worst part of those wars we do fight is what we do to our men and women fighting those wars while they are fighting. Once again, it is all politics. You see the losing side of the political fight, republicans during Bosnia and democrats during Iraq, write “rules of engagement” that the military must obey while fighting the war. The political opponents are usually responsible for more American military blood than our enemy is. In Afghanistan a US soldier brings his/her weapon to bear on two people operating a mortar lobbing shells at him/her, but they are not allowed to shoot them because the attackers are dressed like Afghan civilians and therefore (in the mind of politicians in the military and in Washington DC) may actually be an innocent civilian or there may be other innocent civilians standing near them. (The enemy know this and so they ensure all combatants are dressed like civilians.) So, more American women and men die needlessly thanks to politicians and generals back in Washington DC.

In Iraq, our enemy know that if they attack us from inside a mosque they can shoot at our soldiers all day and fear no return fire. Why? Because those same politicians do not want mosques damaged (it’s ok to damage churches and synagogues though), they are afraid our enemy will think we are fighting a religious war, a war against Islam. Except the political, military, and religious leaders of our enemy have already declared this war to be a religious war against all non-Muslims.

News flash to those in Washington DC! If the only time a mosque is damaged by our troops is when they are returning fire from our enemies, the Muslim moderates (our politicians claim they are pandering too) will notice this and realize we are not targeting their mosques. Not only does this rule of engagement kill many of our own men and women but also it presumes that if you are Muslim you are too stupid to notice the difference between damage done to a mosque while in battle and a mosque that is destroyed in the absence of a battle simply because it is a mosque.

I think the next time these politicians propose a war for money (republican or democrat) or the next time they (republican or democrat) oppose a war that needs to be fought to defend those who cannot defend themselves, we should take both sets of politicians give them clubs and lock them inside the capital building in Washington and let no one out until only one is left standing. I think there would be fewer wars and fewer genocides around the world. Yes, I am a veteran. Yes, if the need arises again and if I think I will be useful, I will put on a uniform again. Yes, if I have to, I will kill people in war. No, I do not like war. No, I do not like killing.

You want to see a smile on my face? Flash forward thirty years, I am walking with my granddaughter:

“Grandpa Mommy says you are a veteran. What’s a veteran?”

“A veteran is someone who served in the military. Do you understand Sweetheart?”

“Yes grandpa.”

“Grandpa?”

“Yes dear.”

“What’s a military?”

You help make that conversation possible and you will see a smile on my face that took eighty years to create, a smile like I have never had before. And the tears that will be streaming down my face will be from a joy so intense no words could describe it.

Joe C Combs 2nd First offical navy portrait November 1980.

Joe C Combs 2nd First offical navy portrait November 1980.

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USS Macon ZRS-5


English: U.S.S. Macon moored at south circle, ...

English: U.S.S. Macon moored at south circle, viewed from camera inside of Hangar 1. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The USS Macon ZRS-5 and its sister ship (USS Akron ZRS-4) were the largest helium-filled rigid airships ever built, and the largest airships built in the United States. The Hindenburg LZ-129 was 19 feet 10 inches longer and is the largest airship ever built, and the largest hydrogen-filled airship ever built. Because of the size of the Macon and the Akron, German engineers came from Germany to assist with the design and construction of the sister ships.

A U.S. Navy consolidated N2Y-1 in the hangar o...

A U.S. Navy consolidated N2Y-1 in the hangar of the airship USS Macon (ZRS-5) in 1933/34. The USN equipped six N2Y-1s with hooks to train pilots for the Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk fighters and also used the N2Y-1 as liaison planes between the ground and the airship. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Macon was built as a flying aircraft carrier, carrying 5 F9C Sparrowhawk biplanes. The Macon was commissioned on 23 June 1933, and docked its first airplane on 6 July 1933. The planes were stored inside the hull of the airship.

A plane carried by the USS Macon blimp. Pictur...

A plane carried by the USS Macon blimp. Picture taken by Mark Pellegrini in the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Smithsonian Air and Space museum extension in Dulles, Virginia) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Curtiss F9C-2 Sparrowhawk (BuNo 9058) in fli...

A Curtiss F9C-2 Sparrowhawk (BuNo 9058) in flight over Moffet Field, California in 1934, flown by Lt. ‘Min’ Miller. This aircraft was lost with the USS Macon (ZRS-5). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On 24 June 1933, the Macon left Lakehurst, New Jersey, the site of its construction, for its new base near San Francisco, California. The Macon developed the procedures for using airplanes from an airship for scouting purposes. While the airplanes were onboard the Macon, the landing gear was removed and replaced with fuel tanks, increasing the airplane’s range by 30%.

A Curtiss F9C-2 Sparrowhawk inside USS Akron (...

A Curtiss F9C-2 Sparrowhawk inside USS Akron (ZRS-4) hangar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Macon had a stellar reputation, with an outstanding performance record. Just before the fatal crash of the Macon, the airship was forced to dump 9,000 pounds of ballast and 7,000 pounds of fuel to clear mountains in Arizona. The Macon had to fly up to 6,000 feet, more than twice as high as its maximum flight ceiling altitude of 2,800 feet. Even with the dump of fuel and ballast the airship was still 15,000 pounds heavy and had to be flown at full speed to maintain altitude. As the airship approached a mountain pass near Van Horn, Texas it encountered severe turbulence and had a rapid drop in altitude, damaging the rear of the airship. Fast action by Chief Boatswain’s Mate Robert Davis saved the Macon. Permanent repairs were scheduled for the Macon’s next overhaul, an overhaul that would never happen.

English: USS Macon docked inside Hangar One at...

English: USS Macon docked inside Hangar One at Moffett Field. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then on 12 February 1935 while returning to its base, the Macon ran into a storm off Point Sur, California. The Macon was caught in a wind shear and the repaired tail section of the airship failed again, puncturing a gas cell. The crew performed a massive ballast dump to keep the Macon out of the sea. The Macon reached 4,850 feet and then slowly descended as it continued to lose helium, eventually sinking into the Pacific Ocean. Two of the 76 crewman perished. Radioman First Class Ernest Dailey jumped into the sea while the airship was still too high. Mess Attendant First Class Florentiono Edquiba drowned while swimming back into the Macon to retrieve personal belongings. Commander Wiley, the airships commanding officer, was later decorated for attempting to swim the Edquiba’s aid.

It was later determined that if the Macon had not gone above its 2,800 foot ceiling it could have survived the structural failure of the stern section of the airship and could have returned to its base. Also lost with the Macon were the four aircraft it was carrying at the time. The Macon had completed 50 flights since it was commissioned, and was stricken from the register of Navy ships on 26 February 1935. All future airships of the Navy would be non-rigid blimps.

English: the sky hook located at the center of...

English: the sky hook located at the center of the Curtiss Sparrowhawk F9C-2 biplanes. During flight, the pilot would position the aircraft below the USS Macon’s hanger where a trapeze was lowered to hook the plane. Sparrowhawk pilots were nicknamed the “men on the flying trapeze.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1991, the Macon was found. The debris field was explored with sonar, still photography and video; some artifacts were also recovered. In 2005, a side-scan sonar survey was made of the wreck site. In 2006, another expedition went to the wreck site, this time with high-definition video as well. More than 10,000 images of the debris field were taken. The exact location of the Macon, within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, remains a secret. However, it is known that the debris field is more than 1,500 feet deep.

2006-103-1 Fragment of Life Boat, USS Macon

2006-103-1 Fragment of Life Boat, USS Macon (Photo credit: Naval History & Heritage Command)

The United States used the safe, inert helium gas for its rigid airships. The United States, at that time, had almost all of the known reserves of helium, and refused to allow the export of helium to Nazi Germany. Germany was thus forced to use the highly dangerous and flammable hydrogen gas for all of its rigid airships. Yet, Germany had a much better safety record with its rigid airships. By the time, the United States decided to enter the rigid airship industry Germany had been building rigid airships for more than three decades. Germany used rigid airships during World War One to great effect, greatly increasing the German technology in rigid airship design, construction, and operation. The difference in experience is undoubtedly one of the major factors in the diverse safety records of the two countries.

A U.S. Navy consolidated N2Y-1 hooking up on t...

A U.S. Navy consolidated N2Y-1 hooking up on the airship USS Macon (ZRS-5) in 1933/34. The USN equipped six N2Y-1s with hooks to train pilots for the Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk fighters and also used the N2Y-1 as liaison planes between the ground and the airship. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A U.S. Navy airship, either USS Akron (ZRS-4) ...

A U.S. Navy airship, either USS Akron (ZRS-4) or USS Macon (ZRS-5), over Puget Sound, Washington (USA). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The U.S. Navy airship USS Macon (ZRS-5) conduc...

The U.S. Navy airship USS Macon (ZRS-5) conducts initial operations with her Curtiss F9C-2 “Sparrowhawk” aircraft, over New Egypt, New Jersey (USA), on 7 July 1933. The two planes, visible below the airship, were piloted by Lieutenant D. Ward Harrigan and Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Frederick N. Kivette. (Text: US Navy) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: USS Akron flying over the southern en...

English: USS Akron flying over the southern end of Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, circa 1931-1933 (Photo #: NH 43900) Deutsch: USS Akron (ZRS-4) über Manhattan (1931-1933) Français : USS Akron (ZRS-4) au dessus de Manhattan (1931-1933) Italiano: USS Akron mentre sorvola l’isola di Manhattan, New York City Nederlands: zeppelin de USS Akron boven Lower Manhattan Español: Dirigible USS Akron sobre la isla de Manhattan, Nueva York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The USS Macon inside Hangar One at Moffett Fie...

The USS Macon inside Hangar One at Moffett Field on October 15, 1933, following a transcontinental flight from Lakehurst, New Jersey. Navy photo ID: NH 85746 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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My Two Cents Worth


First, let me say, if you remember your lost loved ones on Memorial Day, good. There should be more people like you. Even if your loved ones, specially if your loved ones, did not die while on duty in service in the armed forces. You may not like the way I start today, but stay with me to the end, and then, just think about what I say.

Now, onto my purpose today, one of my biggest ‘pet peeves’ is Memorial Day. Actually, the way we observe Memorial Day. Memorial Day is officially the observance of those who died on active duty in the armed forces while in service to their country. Today, in America we put flags on the graves of every person who served in the military. We also use today to honor our deceased loved ones … family, friends, even pets … most of whom never even served in the military and certainly did not die while on active duty. And do not get me started on the “commercial” side of Memorial Day.

I know that when I die, every Memorial Day there will be placed on my grave a small American flag (usually by a veterans group, religious group, or a youth organization). If I could, I would reach from below the earth covering my grave and yank that flag down. I lived to the end of my military service, hung up my uniform, and took my place among the ranks of LIVING veterans. Memorial Day was not intended be a day to remember my military service or me. It was intended to remember men (and women) like my great-uncle. My great-uncle died at the battle of Belleau Wood while in the army in World War 1.

Belleau Wood was a surprise attack by German forces in June 1918 (during World War One). The American allies retreated from the onslaught, leaving the United States Army in its front-line positions on its own. The United States Marine Corps, the only help to the embattled and surrounded soldiers in the trenches. It was during this battle that the German soldiers nick-named the marines “Teufel Hunden” or “Devil Dogs”. It was in that battle the US Marines established themselves as a disciplined, tenacious, elite fighting force; the battle also marked the death of my great-uncle. He was a young man in the prime of youth, who left behind neither children or wife to mourn his passing. He sacrificed all of that and more for our freedom. Memorial Day belongs to him and his brothers and sisters who have joined him in making the ultimate sacrifice for us.

Our present Memorial Day was actually copied from an earlier memorial day observance … Confederate Memorial Day established in Columbus, Georgia in 1866.

As in most wars, the men who are tasked with fighting and dying are the poorest among us. Those men who did most of the dying in Confederate grey could not afford to own slaves (unlike their generals), and often had to compete against the slave labor just to feed their own families. Many of those young men fought simply because there was an invading army of blue that had march onto daddy’s farm. As in all wars, the reasons men fight are as varied as the men themselves. Confederate Memorial Day was about honoring those men, and not about racism or hatred, a “Lost Cause” or even a lost nation. Many of those men left behind families who were now destitute and still grieving their loss. As with many of the families of the Titanic, the world was a cruel place for a family without a husband and father to provide for the family. Life, as hard as it was to be poor in the south before the war; was unimaginable for a poor family in the destroyed south after the war without its patriarch. Those families (as with many Titanic families) would never recover from the loss.

In 1868, the veteran’s organization Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) called for a national day called Decoration Day to honor fallen union dead. In 1882, the name was changed to Memorial Day. But, it was not until 1967 (more than a century after Confederate Memorial Day) that memorial Day became an official federal holiday.

From its earliest roots, Memorial Day, has always been about honoring those men and women killed while serving their nation. Veterans Day is about honoring all veterans … living and dead … who served their nation. If you want to stick a flag on my grave, do it on Veterans Day, but do me a favor and wait until I’m occupying it first.

Most nations have a day to honor fallen war dead, but they also have something the United States does not, a Remembrance Day. In different nations it goes by different names, but Remembrance Day is a day to honor family and friends who did not die a premature death in service to their country. In Russia, families take a picnic lunch and go to the cemetery. At the cemetery they repair, replace, clean, scrub, weed, plant flowers and so many other little things to honor their lost love ones. This is an annual national day in Russia. THIS is the day to honor our non-war dead, not Memorial Day. This is a day we need to have in the United States, and maybe one day, when we learn our own past and honor it, we may have a Remembrance Day.

I once heard a tired old veteran say something I have never forgotten. He was standing over the grave of a man barely two decades old who died in World War Two, a young man too young to leave behind a wife and children to remember him.

He said, “The worse death of all is the second death. To die for your country and then to be forgotten, that is the second death.”

When we add all of our other loved ones to Memorial Day, we are doing that very thing. They become lost in the sea of grief we shed for all our lost loved ones and they die the death of being forgotten. All those men and women deserve better from us. Yes, even those young boys who wore grey so many years ago.

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Life is Just, Driving in the Snow


In 1982, I returned to Groton, Connecticut, home of the United States Submarine Force. This time I was reporting to my first submarine. In the interim, I had been to Virginia Beach, Virginia, then on to San Diego, California for sonar school. San Diego — Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo, The Del, and magic lessons (this one is a story for another time), many of my classmates insisted I go to Black’s Beach, but I never made it. The next time I would go to San Diego, I would pass the test to join MENSA, but joined the United States Chess Federation instead. I enjoyed San Diego, but in my mind, Groton was where I belonged. I could feel the presence of my submarine forefathers everywhere I went. I would learn many things in Groton.

One of the earliest things I learned in Groton was how to drive in snow. This time in Groton, I had my own wheels, a 1978 Ford F-150 pickup truck. In the early 1980’s trucks were still work vehicles, and you could get a truck for half the price of a car. So, there I was, a Florida boy with my pickup and Florida plates. driving in snow in Groton, Connecticut.

I would see a green light at the intersection a block ahead of me, and I would start slowing down, the light would be red by the time I got to the intersection. On Sundays, little old ladies on their way to church would pass me. Of course, it did not take long before a Groton police officer pulled me over. He never asked for my driver’s license, insurance, or registration.

“Are you in the navy?” asked the officer.

“Yes sir.”

“Are you actually from Florida?”

“Yes sir.”

“Have you ever driven in snow before?”

“No sir.”

He reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a business card, which he handed to me.

“That shopping center over there closes at 9 PM tonight. I want you to go to the far end of the parking where there are no light posts. I want you to drive in the snow and lose control of your truck, then regain control of it again. I want you to keep doing this until you are comfortable driving in snow. If anyone stops you, I want you to hand them my card, and tell them I told you to do it, that you are learning to drive in snow.”

He did not chastise me, write me a ticket, or even give me a warning. In a calm and soft voice, he gave me the guidance I needed, steered me in the right direction, and allowed me to venture out to face my fear on my own. I was all over that parking lot. Long after I felt comfortable driving in snow I was still sliding all around that parking lot, and having one hell of a good time doing it.

I do not have the card any more, but I am a good driver in snow, and I am not the only one who says that. I sometimes wonder how many car accidents that police officer prevented. No matter how much snow is coming down, or how much snow is on the road, I am calm, confident, and steady behind the wheel.

We all do that in life. When we first venture out we are timid, then we go a little crazy. But, if we are lucky, we have someone who puts that hand on our shoulder, and in a calm voice, gives us the guidance we need. Then they stand back, and let us find our own way. The stepping back part is just as important as the non-judgmental advice and the hand on the shoulder. It lets us know that someone has confidence in us, confidence that we may not feel at the time. But, that confidence rubs off on us, and as we find our way we become calm, confident, and steady. After all, life is just driving in the snow.

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