Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

09 June 2017

Cluttered Brain

There are people on the planet who crave every detail of things. Their brains are cluttered with mostly useless facts, some of which are even true. Given the opportunity they will gladly spout off a ton of crap in an attempt, I suppose, to display how intelligent they are.

I am not so afflicted. And anyway, no one would be fooled.

For the thirteen years that I worked as a pilot in the Gulf of Mexico, I specifically avoided learning much about what the oil company guys did. It's not that the process of extracting oil and natural gas from the ground wasn't interesting to me. (Well...it wasn't, really.) I did learn the basics of what happens to the oil/gas between the time it comes out of the ground and goes into the pipeline to an onshore refinery. But I didn't want to know a lot about their jobs because I didn't want them to know a lot about my job. “Stick to what you know and do best,” is my motto. I just made that up.

And so up here in Washington State I am in my seventh year as a cherry-drying pilot, hovering over the wet stone-fruit to keep them from splitting after a rain event. And this morning while driving to work I realized that if you held a gun to my head and asked me to point out the differences between the leaf of a cherry tree and the leaf of an apple tree (often planted right next to each other) I would have to say, “Pull the trigger.” Old-timers up here give me a look of incredulity and wonder how I could not know? “It's so easy to tell!” they say. Uhh, yeah...right. For you, maybe. Because you care. I don't.

I hate admitting things like that. But I grew up in The Bronx, NYC. To us, a tree was a tree was a tree. They were rare. Some were green. There were pine trees that had needles and sticky trunks. And then there were shade trees; don't ask me to tell them apart. Oak? Elm? Poplar? Beats me. I'm not a farmer or a tree surgeon – I don't need to know that kind of stuff although it may be interesting or even fascinating to others.

I learned the hard way, rather late in life, that in the wintertime a dead tree looks exactly like a live tree. And when you're climbing a dead tree to rescue a cat, the branches of said dead tree can crumble like a loaf of stale Italian bread. (Or is it French bread? Which is the kind with the hard crust?). And when the bough breaks, the Bobby will fall. And down will come Bobby, injuring himself so badly he got an ambulance ride to the hospital (with lights and siren!) and had to spend a week in bed recovering from his injuries and nearly missing an epic cross-country ferry flight in a helicopter. (I should add that the cat eventually came down by himself.)

Now here we are, in the age of the internet, where any fact about any subject is immediately available at our fingertips. And we don't even have to trouble our fingertips! There are voice-recognition apps that don't even require that you touch the “phone” to ask it a question. I say, "Hello computer!” (a nod to the Star Trek movie, “The Voyage Home”) and my phone wakes up.

”GTS!” someone in the group will shout when a disputable subject comes up. Google that shit. And then someone (or a couple of someones) will whip out their smarter-than-us-phones and start regaling us with useless crap that I could really and happily live without knowing.

It's hard for me to not echo out loud the words of...ohh, who was that actor who played Lt. Samuel (not Philip!) Gerard in the movie-remake of The Fugitive? That guy. He had the drop on Harrison Ford's Richard Kimble character, who insisted that he did not kill his wife. Lt. Gerard says, ”I don't care!” See, Lt. Gerard was just a cop doing his job. And his job was to capture that escaped prisoner. The nuances of the case did not concern him.

I know about cars and motorcycles and airplanes and helicopters. Those are the things that occupy my time and imagination. Politics? Oh no! The mysteries of life? Nah. Why dwell on that stuff?  My brain is cluttered enough as it is.


Ed said...

I am reminded of a saying I heard often growing up. Ignorance is bliss!

Bob Barbanes: said...

And believe me, Eddie, I am one of the most blissful people you'll ever meet ;-)

Bob said...

Another great narrative from one of my favorite writers who, even though he claims to know little about many subjects, can make the telling of a story delightful.

I was with a boorish know-it-all over the weekend so this is ever so timely. My wife and I were just recounting the things he said which were factually incorrect, patting ourselves on our backs for not wasting our breath in attempting to correct him!

Bob Barbanes: said...

Thank you, Bob! Your comments always make me blush like a little schoolgirl.