Coffee and a Pickax to Grind (Warning!!! I stepped up on a soapbox today)

What is it about freshly ground,fresh brewed coffee that is so damn good? You take those dark brown, almost black, oily little beans and dump them into a grinder and then mix with filtered HOT water and yum, deep rich oil slicked coffee. About a year ago, at my husbands insistence we bought a mac-daddy magic coffee machine. Now, I am pretty low tech when it come to kitchen stuff, I prefer a good sharp knife and a cutting board to some whiz bang food processor, the knife and the board are SO much easier to wash and generally faster, unless you are cooking for like 20 ( or more) people, but this coffee machine is AMAZING. Yes, its a pain to wash but sometimes its just worth it. You open the top and take out the grinder which also has a tight fitting lid, put the beans and all of their oily goodness (by the way if your coffee beans are NOT oily you are missing the boat) in this little grinder and pop it back in, fill the well with filtered water and close the top. You open another door and pull out the filter basket, put a filter in (if its already clean, mine usually isn’t) put it back and close that door, stick the clean carafe back in and hit a button, it grinds the coffee, dumps it in the filter, whooshes the HOT water through it and freakin’ yum, COFFEE!  It is loud, especially at 4:30 in the morning when my husband gets up, but hey marriage is all about sacrifice, right? I said all this to say (and I hope he reads this), HE WAS SO RIGHT!

Speaking of right, in the past few weeks I have had occasion through my various friends, in 3 separate instances, to ponder why exactly it is, that most people no longer speak up or stand up and do the right thing, even if they believe its the right thing, because they don’t want to get “involved”. I have long held the belief that there are basically 2 types of people in the world, people who do the right thing and people who do the right thing for themselves, no matter the cost to others. It seems simple when it’s all black and white like that, doesn’t it? I have also held the belief, perhaps naively, that the former outnumbered the latter….it may be, that I have been wrong. I really hope not.

Example…. if someones child (by the way that’s all of us) could be hurt, emotionally or physically by the actions of another person isn’t it our obligation to step in and try to make it right? Especially if our words or actions could make a difference? What of our own children? How would we want someone to respond if it were our child? Would not “doing the right thing” be what we would want someone else to do? Even a stranger? but especially a friend or a brother or sister or a neighbor?

Sometimes it takes making a little noise, going against the crowd, stepping up, pissing a few people off along the way. Many years ago when I was working in Chattanooga Tennessee with a friend of mine on a blistering hot August day that literally melted the asphalt, we were sitting in an air conditioned Kinkos, working, when my friend Mary said, what is that noise? (it was someone revving their engine) but it persisted… getting louder, I finally looked outside and saw a rather large man having full blown convulsions inside his really small car in the parking lot, his foot jammed on the accelerator. I yelled, CALL 911 and ran to the car hoping the whole time that he had not locked his door. My yelling had an effect, not really the one I had thought it was going to have, as I yanked open the door, the people began to gather and stare, I turned off his car and this really large man had wedged himself up between his bucket seats because he was convulsing so violently, his head had dropped backwards which resulted in his tongue blocking his windpipe, there was sweat and spit everywhere, the car was as hot as a gas oven on high. I grabbed his shirt and pulled him forward, grabbed the back of his head and tilted his head forward, thinking the whole time HOW was I going to get him out of there if he needed to be resuscitated? Fortunately his tongue fell forward out of his throat so he could breath again. Looking up for help, I saw one of the Kinkos guys was standing there trying to figure out how he could help, so I told him to open the other door and fan the guy, ordered someone else to get a compress of paper towels and cold water and I started to try and cool him off by putting that on the back of his neck and his forehead all the while trying to hold him upright so he could breath. Mary had immediately called the EMT’s, but by the time they got there he had stopped convulsing, and was breathing almost normal, but still really out of it. As I stepped back to let the EMT’s in I saw at least 40 people standing there NOT helping, just talking and pointing, some of them laughing, but not coming close enough to even try and help. The Kinkos guy and his co-worker stepped up, thank God. It was just a heat stroke, but it could have killed him. Would it have made a difference had the convulsing guy been a white guy in a nice car instead of a black man in a predominately white area? Maybe…but that is a truth about the south that still persists, and will as long as we pretend it doesn’t. That was an immediate instance to make the RIGHT choice, its pretty easy to do that when danger is being played out right in front of your face. At least for some of us.

Whats not so easy is the decision to step in, alert authorities, if a neighbor is doing a dangerous activity that could get someone killed, perhaps even his own children. I am speaking of the man in NC, that was digging an earthen BUNKER in his back yard with a backhoe while at the same time his child and her cousin 6 and 7 years old went down into the bunker to retrieve a toy pickax and the unsupported walls of that bunker collapsed killing the children. The guys neighbor had told his own teen aged daughter who babysat the children not to go anywhere near the bunker, because it was DANGEROUS but did he think to call someone and say this idiot next door is going to get someone killed with his gargantuan hole in the ground? Seemingly not. I think the Dad should be charged with 2 counts of reckless homicide, the neighbor will hopefully lose sleep THE REST OF HIS LIFE because he DIDN’T do the right thing. This was not a tragedy, this was not an accident, this was willful negligence! On both their parts.

Look, I know I am preaching here, but its who I am, its where I come from, its my childhood growing up years that formed this ironclad moral streak in me. Its my Granny showing me how to care for others, how to feed them and how to treat everyone the same no matter the color of their skin, or how they choose to worship, or how poor they were.  That might sound strange as I am a Southerner born into the segregated delineated South, but I never saw that South, I only saw what was in the home I grew up in. I only got to see that awful South when I was older, but by then I had already formed who I was and what I believed, thanks to my biggest influence, Thelma Godfrey Eaker. She was a giver, a kind strong soul who worked very hard to make it as right as she could make it for everyone who touched her life. If someones house burned and they lost everything, she pulled out the best linens from the cedar chest to share. If someone needed food she took wonderful canned goods she had put up and anything fresh she had to offer. If a child came to our house to play and he had holes in his shoes, we all went to the dime store and we all got some shoes so he wouldn’t be singled out and feel poor. And if she saw someone who wasn’t doing right she stepped up and tried to make it right or called someone (usually my Uncle Russell at the sheriffs department) who could. In turn she touched many lives with her strong and generous spirit. After she had come to live with us in Tennessee in our tiny home, after she had an aneurysm and was sometimes fine and sometimes not so fine she would collect loose change around the house to keep in her coin purse so that when the ice creme man came around she could buy ice creme for ALL the children in the neighborhood. Word got around that she would do this, and daily, kids would just start to gather up in front of our house about the time he was expected with his Calliope music playing and his bright colored truck. Most of these kids didn’t have a Granny or a quarter. But she told them all to call her Granny, and she provided the quarter. She also provided an example of giving that stays with me to this day.

I know it isn’t easy to make the decision to step in, I get it! That’s what the police and the firefighters and the EMT’s do, its their job. But human to human…its our job too! Its a generosity of spirit that we need these days, its a willingness to be a part of this community we call humankind. All Humans. All Kind. That sounds like such a good idea.

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