Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Minding your own...

I was heading back to work today on my mountain bike. I didn't fasten the straps on my helmet due to the fact I had just finished a fast 1hr ride in the midday Hawaiian heat. Needless to say, the helmet's pretty nasty after a ride like that, so I just cover my head rather than put the sweaty straps over my chin...it's only a 1 mile ride to work, and I do a casual spin on the MTB. Anyhow, as I'm turning the corner onto the main road a guy at the stop sign yells out his window "Sir, you need to fasten the straps on your helmet". What motivated this young man to say that? Does he have a vested interest in my helmet being strapped? Is this a personal crusade of his, akin to my crusade against jackasses on cellphones that nearly run me over on a weekly basis? I have a vested interest in jackasses getting off the cellphone, because they're a threat to my survival. How is my strap-less helmet a threat to this guy's survival? Why does he care? In the end, I just gave him a polite wave and thought "at least the guy used proper etiquette when admonishing me".

That incident spurred another thought on the way to work, as it made me recall other unsolicited, somewhat ballsy admonitions and concerns other junior military members have expressed to me. The most recent happened last week at the doctor's office, when in the waiting room a young airman looks at my boots and says "you should let me shine your boots"...found that ballsy, maybe rude, but odd. I didn't know how to respond other than to say "wow, you have shiny boots, i bet you'd do a good job. mine do look bad, but that's not important to me." I don't think I'd ever comment on the boots of someone senior to me...guess I don't have the balls.

The other memory is from several years ago. I was in Korea, nursing a big hangover, but still in my uniform at the food court. I felt awful, and probably looked a bit nauseous. Out of the blue, a young airman came over to me and said, "Sir, I noticed that you look troubled. Would you like me to pray with you? I think you need Jesus in your life." Needless to say that one really threw me off...never thought I'd be accosted by an evangelical on a military base. Although there are lots of those in the Air Force, most know when to keep their mouth shut, and they'd agree that they shouldn't try to convert another military member that is not their peer, regardless of whether they're at work or drinking a cup of coffee at a food court. Secondly, this guy's in Korea...how could've not assumed I was hungover like everyone else and just left me alone. Or is this how the guy works? He sees us hungover sinners and tries to convert us when we're most vulnerable? How is this in his interest?

These are three instances, where I would probably say nothing...is it that these people are more interested in looking out for their fellow man? Does it make me more selfish that I wouldn't correct someone doing something "unsafe" so long as it doesn't affect my own safety? Is it that I am somehow less proud about the appearance of a uniform if I neglect to tell a senior officer his boots aren't shiny? Can't I assume that he can judge his boots' shine for himself and would shine them if he gave a shit? Should I try to impose my religion or lack thereof onto vulnerable hungover sinners next time I'm in Korea?

9 comments:

Louis Winthorpe III said...

You're thinking like a Libertarian. In other words, you believe people should have the freedom to fail, as long as it doesn't affect the safety or freedom of others. I also believe that. I might tell someone that his collar is messed up in the back, or something along those lines when I see it.

But remember, especially religious people have different values and motivations. I was approached by two Mormon missionaries the other day. Sometimes in these situations I don't know whether to be polite or to tell them off, as I disagree with the idea of conversion. But in this case I was polite with them, wished them good luck, and told them I was extremely tired and needed to take a nap (which I did). What to do? They were after all being polite and "following their beliefs."

Louis Winthorpe III said...

And I've had co-workers try to convert me or ask me improper questions about my religious beliefs. I had a former boss (in my current position) who was a Colonel who invited me to his church. He was a dyed-in-the-wool, right-wing nut job. And though I would never be able to prove it, I know he held it against me that I wasn't a nut-job bible-thumper. I'm not anti-religious, I'm just not a religious zealout. Is it a strange coincidence that he ranked all the other bible-thumpers at the top and ranked me dead last? Even though I was actually a top-performer at my job? This particular Colonel was "retired on active duty." He went to the gym for half the day every day and had the Lt Col working for him (whom I had great respect for) do all his work. The Colonel was basically on "white-collar welfare."

Strap said...

it's probably no coincidence. generally people like people who are like them in some way.

so, do you think the "strap your helmet" guy was in a way saying "accept Jesus as your personal savior"?

was the "shine your boots" girl really saying "repent, you sinner"?

Jason h said...

Hey! i'm going to cali this sunday.. gonna be there for a week, this is the site i was talking about where i made the extra cash. later!

Keith said...

"Repent, you sinner"!?! I doubt it! My guess is she wanted to shine a lot more than just your boots.
You should have given guy who commented on your helmet the finger. I would have liked to have seen his response to that. In all liklihood his mommy probably always told him to wear a helmet, and now that he's a big boy he feels the 'need' to correct others -- who knows maybe he went home and checked off his good deed for the day: "Told guy to wear helmet"
To me though the issue, libertarian or not, is boundaries. There are things you can say to people you know, or are acquianted with that you just shouldn't say to some stranger.

Sally said...

the helmet guy should have just kept his mouth shut...if you were hit and your brain smashed because of not having it properly secured you could have still helped someone by sonya donating your organs to someone else...a win win

Strap said...

the helmet guy must've been clairvoyant...came within inches (yet again) of being hit at the same intersection today. yelled at the 2 hip hop warriors, but couldn't get them to stop...they slowed down when I was yelling, but decided to go on.

Louis Winthorpe III said...

Your last comment isn't very clear.

Strap said...

jackass airman almost killed me yesterday. same intersection where i was yelled at by the helmet guy.