Finding Decent People
Vikar's Rant Could Not Be Ignored
I promised myself I wouldn’t do this anymore.
I thought my days of writing a good “Vikar’s Rant” were behind me. I really did. Those toxic days were when I could write with free and fresh abandon. I had little care or concern for what I’d written. I was in the middle of making the philosophical shift from conservative to liberal. With 9-11 still fresh in my head, along with the insanity of the Bush Jr. administration, my tongue was full of vitriol and I just plain did not care about anything I said.
In short, I was stupid.
This article is my second attempt at ranting in 2017. As a man in his fifties, my wit and writing have grown sharp enough to be legally classified as deadly assault weapons. It takes great restraint to not rant against our forty-fifth commander and chief. And there is so much to write.
So very much.
It’s best that I not do it. For me, it would be like starting a heroin habit or using the dark side of the Force. Once you start down that path, forever will it dominate your fate.
I really wasn’t going to do this anymore. I’ve kept my rants to an untraceable audible form. In other words, I scream them at anyone who will listen. My wife and some close friends were my audiences. My screaming won’t be found in a Google search.
That said - My poor, poor wife. If you see her walking down the street, just give her a knowing nod and pity her.
Really, I wasn’t going to do this… until…
I’d been found.
Leave it to some nostalgic internet fans to zero in on me and my real name and literally demand my coming out of a peaceful retirement. They were insistent. Either I started writing again or I’d get hot tar, feathers, and boy band songs. If I didn’t give them fresh blood, they’d want my old stuff (which I surgically removed from the internet and will release them again once certain Geneva Convention rules are redefined).
So, fresh blood it is.
With that in mind, I decided I would write about the mundane – for now.
Over the last year or so, I’ve had a terrible problem. Finding and keeping decent people.
I’m not alone in this. Even before 2016’s election, everyone on social media has had a horrible defining moment when an old friend or relative posts their passionate opinion. And so disturbing were these little nuggets of “opinion” the effect was like having spectacular sex with a lover only to watch them pull off a full face mask and find Martin Landau.
The really disturbing part is Martin Landau is dead – which makes this extra icky.
I have found great pride and shame in the number of people, both former friends and family, I’ve tossed into the proverbial Facebook memory hole. The poor quality of their opinions can only be matched by the atrociousness of their spelling and grammar.
You know what I’m talking about and we all know these people.
They are the “drunk uncles”. You know them. They’re the guys you see once a year on Thanksgiving. We break bread with them after giving them an obligatory hug and kiss, and then after dinner, we avoid them. We head to a quiet corner of the house while they head to your parents’ wet bar. After their first beer or scotch, they regale everyone listening to a medley of politically incorrect ramblings that would only be suitable for a Klan meeting or a White Power rally.
They are also those idiot friends you know you have. You friended them on Facebook because you secretly believed after high school or college, life and kids, they might have changed into better people. Somewhere along the way, we found out that Darwin was wrong and the Idiocracy was right. The “stupid” have not only survived, they have flourished. Your stupid idiot acquaintance found a stupid idiot mate and they got together to breed stupid idiot kids.
It’s nature and nurture.
And that’s the thing about offensive idiots; they are not confined to race, creed, or sex. They go beyond income level or education levels. Most believe they were put on this planet with a divine, unentitled right to have special treatment. That is not just my opinion. If you’re looking for a more thorough study of the science of offensive idiots, I wholehearted recommend Aaron James’ book, A$$holes: A Theory.
Once again, we all know these people. While none of us actually hate any of them, we are sorely disappointed with them. When they reveal themselves, they get the warnings. We, as decent human beings, take the standard steps of proper decorum. Their posts get hidden first. Then, they get unfollowed. Lastly, after the fastball crosses the plate above the knees, on the third strike we happily unfriend them. That comes when they go too far or you are forced to choose between them and someone, who is not an offensive idiot, whose friendship you actually value more than theirs.
It is then when you reduce your idiot quotient by one.
Thankfully, this conversation isn’t about them.
Finding the Unexpectedly Decent People
The real purpose of this article is to talk about the unexpected encounters with truly decent people. Good people. Salt of the earth.
As repugnant idiots cross all races, creeds, colors, and sexes, so do decent people.
Within the last three years, when I was at a true low point in my life, I have been blessed in finding kindness in strangers. I have been brought to tears by their good deeds and their selflessness. They have reaffirmed my faith in humanity.
I don’t care about their politics. I don’t care about their religion. I don’t care about what color their skin is. They shine. It hurts my eyes when I see their goodness.
They range from the toll taker who graces me every day with a smile to the people who work at the Monmouth County Food Bank to old friends who fed me when I had nothing.
They are the good Samaritans who see others in pain and, in seeing that pain, feel compassion. Their goodness comes when it is so easy for them to turn their backs and ignore suffering. I won’t mention any of them by name. They are humble. Doing what they do is their reward.
How You See People
What do you think of humanity?
Suffice it to say, they have left me in their debt. In their place of paying them back, I am to pay it forward to another stranger who might be in need. I have heard this as a Sikh tale where one man has gone to a Sikh for a favor and it is only to be paid back in granting everyone else who comes to that man with the same request. Paying it forward.
Imagine if we all did that. Imagine when we find ourselves in need that we can freely make that pact and give a stranger the goodwill we’ve received. No strings attached. Just repay the kindness to someone else – whenever and wherever.
Let me tell you something stupid. Something that stuck in my head from an unlikely source. Whenever I think of these terrible global events that get idiots screaming jingoism, I think of regular people. I think of a line from The Muppets Take Manhattan.
The line is “Peoples is peoples.”
It was delivered through an overly ethnic tongue of Louis Zorich (a wonderfully charming man who I had the pleasure of talking to on the number 2 train in New York). It simply means that regardless of state politics, people are generally the same due to the common experience of living. Some are decent and some are idiots, but they are all people.
It is these people who make me reassess the repugnant people I’ve known. Granted, many of the swirling toilet sewage chunks I’ve cut myself off from, have rightfully been consigned to a septic tank purgatory. It is highly unlikely I will find their golden hearts under their slime and putrescent hatred.
Then again, who knows? Time heals all wounds.
All I know is this – kindness costs nothing. We go out into this world and, more times than not, we find it cold and unforgiving. My own mother would echo the words of her brother who used this in his child-rearing. He’d say, “It’s a cold cruel world out there and there are many people who won’t give a damn about you.”
I was nine. That’s when my expectations for humanity were set. Age nine.
The good news is my general experience of people is that they are good and compassionate. When I see common people who are kind with no motivation to do so, it gives me hope that people are beyond politics.
That toll taker I mentioned before? One day, I’d left work distraught and I was unsure if I took my ticket from the machine for the Turnpike. I couldn’t find it. When I got to her I knew it was the difference between paying what I always paid and a fifty dollar fine and a maximum toll price. I told her I couldn’t find my ticket. She recognized me and asked what I usually paid and charged me that.
It was a nothing thing. But it was one less brick of shit that I had to endure that day – and I had a truck full of bricks.
The people at the Monmouth County Food Bank are all volunteers. They specialize in preserving dignity. When they finally come with bags of food to feed your family – it is emotionally overwhelming. It goes against the “cold cruel world” model my family has drilled into my head for decades.
My wife tells a good Fred Rogers story. You know him as Mister Rogers from Mister Rogers Neighborhood. He had said when terrible things happen in this world you should look for the helpers. They are the people helping others. The police, paramedics, the first responders, the firemen, and other volunteers who are there to help the afflicted – they are the antibodies set to fix the wounds that come with the slings and arrows life throws at us.
We should always be grateful for them.
Everything I’ve said is not news. It really isn’t.
If you’ve gone through your life and you haven’t experienced an act of kindness and compassion, you need to get out more. Good people exist. They are out there. You just need to find them.
I’m not a religious man. I grew up Catholic. I don’t go to church. However, I am a spiritual man. I believe when there is a terrible crisis in your life, the right people are there to help you.
Yes, I can hear you now. If your mother heard such language, she’d wash your mouth out with soap. Allow me to have my faith in others. It’s a welcome break from the cynicism I have in every other part of my life. Things like that keep me from losing my mind.
I promised you something mundane. There is nothing more mundane than people being people. The reason why we see such horror in the news is that things that make the news are the exceptions to people being people. They are the deviants. They aren’t supposed to warm the cockles of your heart but they are there to remind you how fortunate you are and that things can get worse on a dime.
I wrote this article as an alternative to the excrement I was going to publish. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail but it involved our current president in an undisclosed secret location swimming in an Olympic-sized gold swimming pool full of urine.
Yes, that’s where my head is. Every day when I hear what he’s doing to this country, I have to focus on one of two images – either I think of how there really are good people in this world or Trump swimming in a giant pool of piss.
This article was about kind loving people.
Aren’t you glad I wrote about this instead of the other thing?
© 2017 Christopher Peruzzi