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It doesn’t take a whole lot to impress me these days, and that’s very different from how I used to be. I remember a time when acts of violence, hostile dialog, and even simple elevated confrontations, between people in a public place were remarkable, and at least mildly shocking. I certainly noticed it, and I think most of us did. I also remember when random acts of kindness were so common, they sorta slipped under the radar. Human decency and respectful dialog were simply the standards of behavior we expected and lived by.

Well, things have changed. Sadly, I’ve kinda gotten used to it.

When ‘The Large Man Chronicles’ started, 13 years and 103 posts ago, I wrote about funny and remarkable things that I thought were “commentary worthy”. Things that I witnessed in my travels. I loved watching people navigate the ins and outs of their working days. Flight delays & cancellations, rental cars that were reserved but not there, hotel room fiascos, food poisoning, weather nightmares…even simple jet lag and the weariness of being on the road… all of it was interesting to me, and based on the feedback, it was interesting to my readers as well. Watching our fellow humans trying to earn a living to support a family was relatable to us. I lived it… I still am living it…and I still love it. So, I enjoyed sharing these things with you.


I got a kick out of watching parents soothing their “last nerve” as they endured the struggle of traveling with young children. I enjoyed it because I lived that too. I appreciated it because I could see that conflict of frustration that borders on “hair fire” anger, against the love that borders on nothing you’ve ever really understood before. Again, I loved being in the audience, because I loved being the character in that play not so many years prior. I didn’t know I loved it at the time I was going through it, but luckily, even then, I knew I would be able to look back at these frustrating moments and smile…and I do. The convergence of frustration and unconditional love when it comes to the love of our children is why humanity survives…unconditional love almost always wins. I guess airport security cameras have little to do with the survival thing too.

But it is different now. Things have changed and moved in a direction that truly worries me, because I just don’t know how we rechart this course. We now have a convergence, a hot pot if you will, of political correctness against outright anger, spiced up with indulgence and entitlement (from my lens, across the board, not just our youth) with seemingly no desire to find common ground.  We are seasoning this “hot pot” with anger, indifference, entitlement, and indulgence, and we are leaving empathy, understanding, respect, and dignity on the spice rack. It’s cooking up a nasty tasting stew.

It is a straight-up BUMMER that outrageously rude behavior doesn’t really surprise me anymore.

But … on the other hand…occasionally, I get a little hope.

TWO STORIES…8 Days Apart

Story 1… Bummer:

The Large Man is on a flight from KC, connecting in Nashville, then headed home after a long and dreary week. I’m back in “pre-COVID 19” traveling mode. I miss my wife, my kids, my obnoxious dog…and I’m a bit cranky. But I’m so full of kindness and light, even a cranky Large Man is mostly a joy to be around. I open doors for ALL people, I thank uniformed military men & women for their service, I smile at people who make eye contact with me…and my smile is so bright and full of Large love for humanity, they see it even with my mask covering my mouth (AND NOSE!! Because, really?). My point: While I’m not in my best headspace, I still feel an obligation to kindness.

But then this happened…

Three lovely, enthusiastic, dressed to party ladies, stop by row 18 on Southwest Airlines’ flight to Nashville. It is early on a Saturday morning, when I should be snuggled up next to Mrs. Large Man and considering waffles, pancakes, omelets, or breakfast burritos, because Saturday is cheat day…but I’m not…I’m in row 18 on a Southwest flight from Kansas City to Nashville. I’m in the aisle seat with two empty seats next to me.

The leader of this terrorist organization of 3 tells me that she is going to need me to move so the three of them can sit together, because they are going to Nashville for a bachelorette party, and there are no more empty rows on the plane, pretty much only middle seats.

And I quote:

“Sir, can you take your headphones off, so we can talk?”

I comply…with a fully masked smile…remove my headphones, and reply, “What’s up?”

“I’m gonna need you to move to one of these middle seats so me and my girlfriends can sit together for this one’s bachelorette party.” She said this with her own smile that was visible behind her bedazzled mask, as she pointed her thumb over her shoulder at her pre-wedded traveling companion.

Before I share my reply, please understand three (3) things:

1) I was not asked to move, I was told, “I’m gonna need you to move”.

2) These were three (3) grown ass women, none of whom I am currently sleeping with or share family with. They were not traveling with a family, small children, elderly people, or persons with special needs. To quote Sam Cooke, they were “…having a party, and everybody was swingin’, dancing to the music on the radio”.

3) Southwest has a program called “Earlybird” where one can reserve early boarding privileges for $20. I know the program is available on flights from Kansas City to Nashville, because I was a current participant.

So…

I replied, “No, thanks. I’m gonna stay here. I paid the Earlybird premium so I could have an aisle seat. Two of you are welcome to sit in these seats”, as I point with my thumb over my shoulder at the middle and window seats in row 18, “…and one of you can sit in the middle seat right there.” (Row 17) “It’s only about an hour flight.”

“I can’t believe you won’t move! What an a-hole!”, was her retort. Except she used the real word… I’m continuing to try and clean up LMC language, even though it’s not true to my nature.

I replied with a sincere, “I’m sorry, I paid for this and I prefer an aisle. Also, to properly ask, you should have said, ‘My girlfriends and I’, not ‘me and my girlfriends’ and then you should have asked, and not just told me what you needed me to do. Some simple etiquette would have gone a long way.”, and then I put my headphones back on and listened to the haunting voice of Susan Tedeschi sing ‘Midnight in Harlem’. But in the background, beyond the magic of noise cancellation technology, I heard the good people in my general vicinity give a light round of applause. It was a nice validation.

Had I been asked nicely; I probably would have moved. I think I would have moved. Maybe.

Story 2… Hope:

It’s 8 days later, and I am not cranky; I am angry. It is a Sunday morning, it’s early, my kids were in town and at home. Pancakes were on the breakfast menu, and Mrs. Large Man makes the best pancakes in America, probably the world. I had been home less than 48 hours, and I’m back at the airport. Did I mention that it was Sunday?

I plop my angry ass in seat 24D on an American Airlines flight to DFW. As the plane fills up, I become a little hopeful because seat 24E remains empty, so a buffer seat on a non-stop 3-hour flight was looking hopeful. That’s like winning the lottery! Well, it’s actually nothing like winning the lottery, but the little comforts, like an empty seat next to you on a long plane ride, are awesome.


Just as I start to get comfortable and feel the twinges of smile muscles starting to flex, it’s déjà vu all over again. Two beautiful young ladies are hovering over me and my aisle seat in row 24.

Here we go…

“Sir, my daughter and I are in 2 different rows. We had to book this flight at the last minute, and I only had that middle seat”, the one next to me, “and the seat behind it available. I know it’s a lot to ask, but would you mind…”

“Of course!”, I interrupt. “Absolutely.”

I gather my things and I make my way to the middle seat behind me. As I move, the diminutive man sitting in the aisle says, “I’ll take the middle, sir. I’m small, and I’m gonna sleep the whole way anyway. You take the aisle.”

The mom and her 4-year-old daughter (so a “beautiful” young lady) were able to sit together on this long flight. When we landed at DFW, Kara, the daughter, draws a picture for me, and mom writes a note that simply reads, “Thank you!! For your kindness.”

I feel good. They feel good. The sleeping man in seat 25E feels good. AND… I leave the plane less angry, and a little more hopeful about the state of mankind (including yours truly).

Story 1 & Story 2, are sorta the same; there were women asking me to move from my seat to less comfortable accommodations. In one an order was given, in the other one a favor was asked. In one there was indulgence and entitlement, in the other there was grace and respectfulness. And…obviously…there were 3 drunk women in one, which most of the time I like, and there was a sweet, classy mother and her adorable little girl in the other.

I’m doing my best to stay focused on Story 2. I’m going to keep Kara’s note in my computer bag, and I may even show it to folks when we talk about the horrors of road warrior travel, and how unpleasant people are becoming.

I think the course to redemption starts with a new hot pot of my own, with new ingredients and seasoning. I want to use Kara’s note and picture as the foundation stock.

We must chart a new course, and I guess it should start with me…and maybe even some of you. Too bad, I was really hoping to take the day off.

Big Love & thanks for reading!!

TLM

A Heinous Crime

Baby wanted a bagel. What baby wants; baby gets.

On Friday night, a random commercial popped up while Mrs. Large Man and I were watching ‘All About Eve’, an enjoyable old classic with Bette Davis. In this random commercial there was a random couple getting ready to chow down on some freshly toasted bagels. Mrs. Large Man exclaimed, “Mmmm…that looks good!”

I replied, “Daddy will get up early tomorrow and go to Panera and get you a fresh bagel.”

To which she squealed, “Yesssssss!” Maybe it wasn’t a squeal, but it was clearly an emotionally charged, positive response.

Hey man, I know it was gonna be a Saturday and all, but like Socrates said, “Happy wife; happy life”. Right?

So, I set my alarm for 10:00 with plans to get out early on a Saturday and buy “Baby” a fresh, plain bagel. (She likes plain or sourdough, Panera rarely has sourdough).

Saturday morning arrives. Teeth brushed & flossed. Canine fed and relieved. Jeep Cherokee fired up and rolling. Baby is gonna be happy!

And then this happened…

I pull into the left turn lane in front of Panera, and a white Toyota Corolla with Pennsylvania tags jumps in front of me and turns in ahead of me. Discourteous. A little unsafe. But it’s Saturday, it’s 3 degrees outside, Carlos Santana’s guitar is screaming about this frustrating love they both have for a ‘Black Magic Woman’, and this 62-year-old Large Man just ain’t in the mood for conflict.

Life is too short, right? We are all God’s children, and I chose to treat him as such. Whatever this guy’s hurry is about, I’m quite sure it is not about me. I made a choice not to wave finger gestures, I made a choice not to blow my horn, I made a conscious and definitive choice…not to get angry.

Interestingly though, despite his frantic and unsafe driving, we both parked at the same time, walked to the front door at about the same time, and I actually opened the door for the non-driving, rude, butthead, jerkface, child of God. Why not?
If we lead with love, then love will surely follow. (TLM)

I hop in line; Corolla goes straight to the coffee dispensers. I see that there are still plenty of plain bagels, a few sesame seed bagels, and just a handful of people in line in front of me…this is working out great. AND…I believe it’s working out great because I chose love, patience, understanding and tolerance over hate, impatience, and frustration…I am SO growing as a human being!! If I had only understood the importance of these principles when I was raising my children, or coaching youth league sports (so, your children too), I know this world would be a better place today.

Kindness, tolerance, and humanity…actually, grace. I’m feeling these things as I stand in line and I look back over at the coffee kiosk or whatever the hell you call it, and I smile as I watch Corolla fill up his very Large stainless-steel thermos. I notice that he’s filling up with French Roast, which seems a bit prissy to me for such an aggressive driver, but hey, I don’t really know about coffee, and… I’m still all about grace, love, tolerance, right? I just smile. Then he tops it off with some vanilla creamer, and he walks out the door.

French roast with vanilla creamerreally dainty… I think to myself as he walks out the door. I’m next in line and I drop the thoughts of Corolla for a moment and I start thinking about a palette cleansing pastry to follow up my dark toasted sesame seed bagel, and then it hits me:

Corolla got out of his car, opened up his thermos jug, dumped the contents on the sidewalk, I got to the door first…OPENED the door for him…he goes to the coffee stand (or whatever the hell you call it), pours what I can only assume is at least 20 ounces of French Roast with a floater of vanilla cream, and then…

WALKS OUT THE DOOR! THE MAN STEALS THE DAINTY COFFEE! HE’S A CRIMINAL, AND HE HAS COMMITTED THIS HEINOUS CRIME RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!! AND WORSE, HE DOES IT WHILE I’M BEING….

…I don’t know, do you guys remember what I was thinking and saying? I know it had something to do with, “kindness and tolerance”, or “love and understanding”, I think here was some grace sprinkled in there too. It was some stupid shit that I didn’t really mean, basically patting myself on the back for not giving an asshole driver the finger because he was being an asshole driver, and now he is also a hardened, thieving, criminal.

“I can help who’s next!”, says the enthusiastic bagel boy behind the counter.

What do I do? I look out the window and I see Corolla opening his car door, and I’m trusting that he’s there because he left his wallet in the car and he’s grabbing it to come back in and pay for his coffee or swipe his Coffee Club card. No. He gets in the car, and he drives away.

He puts his (approximately) 6’ 2”, 200 lb. frame, wearing a white Pittsburgh Pirates baseball cap, gray sweatpants and a white quarter-zip pullover, into his white Corolla with Pennsylvania tags…I remembered all the “particulars” in case the police question me, or I have to be part of manhunt, or a posse, or a well-regulated militia, or something.

So Corolla drives away with at least a $2.79 jug of coffee, and my belief in humanity…both of which he didn’t pay for. I step up to the counter, and I think about how I will report this heinous crime to the enthusiastic bagel boy, and it hits me like a ton of bricks (or a ton of pastry, whatever) …Am I an accessory to the crime? I opened the door. I watched him pour. I silently judged and belittled his flavor choices. I watched him leave. I said nothing…was my silence a crime as well?

Understandably so, my bagel boy had become a little impatient and had some questions of his own. His spoken words asked, “Do you know what you would like, sir? Can I help you?”

His eyes and his body language asked, “Do you really not have your order ready? Haven’t you been in line for like 10 minutes? Do you know the menu is the same as it always is? Do you know I’m only making like 8 bucks an hour? Why are you wasting everyone’s time? Did you just stand there like an idiot and watch that guy steal $2.79 worth of coffee? Do you contribute anything to society?

“Sir?”, he beckoned again.

“Oh! I’m sorry, young man. I lost my train of thought. Do yourself a favor, buddy, don’t get old!” I replied with a nervous chuckle as I snapped out of my trance.

In the interest of time and the bigger concerns of commerce, I kept the crime to myself. I moved on. Shamefully.

I placed my order. The baked goods were packaged with great care. Baby got her bagel. Corolla got away with his crime…and I will live with the shame and disappointment of not speaking up or taking action for the rest of my life…or at least until Tuesday.


And that’s what happened on Saturday morning, the 23rd day of 2022. Thanks for helping me unburden my soul. Thanks ALWAYS for reading!

TLM

So, this dude I was talking to today inspired me to write a ‘Chronicle’ for the first time in months. For the sake of this entry into the LMC, let’s just call him Andy. This dude and I became friends in 2003 or 4. Then, in 2008, he became my boss. Then, I left his employ, and he became my vendor. Then, I left that job, and we became colleagues. But throughout this journey, we have mostly just been great friends. Now that I manage a sales team of my own, I spend a lot of time apologizing to my friend about my prima donna behavior in the 10 years that I worked for him. None of that has anything to do with what I’m going to write about, and it probably will be scratched in editing, but this is how I warm up. (Hey wait!! It made it!)

It’s the Christmas season, of course, and everything I love about this particular holiday season is all around me. My babies are home; my little Alex Rae brought home her new cat, and while I’ve joked all my life about the atrocities and insignificance of the domestic feline species, Petey is an awesome, chill, little dude, and he makes my daughter so happy that I can’t take it! I LOVE this cat! I (obviously) love having Alex home too. She is the fire, the energy, & the heart of our family home.

My son, Jack, is home as well; a kinder, more gentle soul, you will never meet. Packaged in a giant, 6ft 9inch body, Jack is the “peacekeeper” of our home…not through intimidation though, simply through his own brand of “chill”. If he was into drugs at all, and if I liked The Grateful Dead at all, he’s the kind of chill dude that I would love to sit down with at a Dead concert, spark up a doob and just hang out and take it all in.**

 **(The Large Man does not advocate the recreational use of illegal drugs or the listening to the music of The Grateful Dead at any time. It’s called a “metaphor”, look it up!)

Fathers & daughters, mothers & sons, our total family unit under one roof is the only gift I really need…this year, or any year. I love that part of Christmas, and I know the dozen or so of you reading this love it too.

But, back to my inspiration…

My friend Andy touched on a subject today, and his words struck me like a bolt of lightning, straight to the nuts, while standing in the middle of a swimming pool…”I do everything online now. It kinda dampens the Christmas spirit.”

(When lightning strikes you in the nuts while you stand in a swimming pool, the shock is more intense, and it lingers on an average of about :30 more seconds than simply being struck by lightning in the middle of a field or on a Ferris Wheel. You can look that up too)

My friend’s words froze me in my tracks. It was as revalationary (not revolutionary) as when Kramer first learned about Festivus on Seinfeld. But Andy’s comment was not meant to be funny, he was talking about how he missed the hustle and bustle of actually going to stores and shopping malls, with people and decorations and fistfights over parking spaces.

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style.

In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas.

Yup…I miss it too. Christmas simply isn’t in the air at dubya dubya dubya . amazon .LL Bean .Eddie Baur .Macy’s etc. It’s really convenient, and technically speaking, you can get everything you need for Christmas on your Google machine now, but Christmas isn’t technical. Christmas isn’t experienced via www dot ANYTHING!!  Christmas is about spirit, and Spirit, and Santa Claus, and Holy Mangers, and tinsel and vibrant reds and calming greens and brilliant whites and Elves and ribbons & bows. You ain’t gonna get that online.

AND…this lightning strike to my testicles shot from the words of my slow witted friend is my line in the sand! NO MORE! (Sub-note….this isn’t just a side effect of the pandemic, I’ve been a victim of online convenience for the last 5 or 6 years)

NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!MOOOOOORE!!!!!!! I have to change my Christmas shopping habits & style & strategy.

Some of the most pleasant memories of my youth, and even more so, my young adult life, are from fighting the crowds while Christmas shopping. In my younger days, “The Mayhem Years“, as I fondly call them… my buddy DJ and I, usually did our Christmas shopping for the first time of the season on Christmas Eve – and it was awesome!

There was this one time… DJ shattered a Shakespeare Ugly Stik fishing rod while demonstrating it’s (supposed) flexibility. About the time we finished laughing about the destroyed fishing rod, we watched an old man trip over nothing. My stomach hurt for 3 days from laughing so hard!! And, before you readers get all “judgy”, we did stop laughing long enough to tell mall security that there was a dude on the floor in front of Penny’s with head trauma and a possible subdural hematoma. Yes, we were laughing at someone’s misfortune, but we were responsible about it. We heard later that the man who fell recovered, and then went on to invent oat milk. So that shot to the noggin and the hearty laughter of two buddies could be responsible for much relief to lactose intolerant people all over the world. Whether all that really happened or not, who’s to say…still, it was all in good fun, and the joy of that Christmas shopping experience and those beautiful, laughter filled moments have lived with me forever. You can’t get that online…you just cant!

I want that again! I want that for my children. I want that for all of us.


Next year, I’m going to a shopping mall, and I’m taking my kids with me. I’m making my wife go too. We’re going to pay cash at cash registers and we’re going to say, “To you as well!” after the hard-working retail clerks say, “Thank you, and Merry Christmas to you.” We’re gonna get Cinnabons and Orange Juliuses and Chick-fil-a and those pretzel thingys. We’re going to pay people to wrap our gifts. It will be like Christmas in the 70s without having to drive my Chevy Nova.

And…AND…next year, the whole family will be of legal drinking age, so when we’re done shopping and snacking and eating, and watching people fall or break things, we will go to a bar in the mall and we will have a vibrant red, or calming green, or brilliant white cocktail to celebrate the joy of the season and the commerce that it creates!! (And all the Holy stuff too, just sayin’)

And you guys are invited!!

Merry Christmas & Big Love from La casa del Hombre Grande