The Let Him Eat Pie story made me think of a story involving my husband – since readers disagreed on the response of the man in the story who bought all the pies, I wondered what they would think of this response.
Background: a mining operation in rural Florida. It’s hard, dirty work, with long hours of fighting rock, ever-present grit, weather and swarms of biting insects, as well as dealing with the occasional snakes, alligators, and even bears. The men at the mine where my husband had worked his way up from laborer to manager had developed a sort of “band of brothers” attitude, a group of men who could take terrible conditions that many could not and still work well. Even though my husband was their manager, it was not a normal, boss-employee relationship – the men knew their jobs and had a lot of autonomy. Most of them had worked with my husband for years. My husband, whom I’ll call “Jim”, didn’t sit in an ivory tower all day. He was out there doing whatever was needed to keep the crushing plant moving; welding, repairing, running a loader and digging out clogged conveyors with a hand shovel, in addition to his office duties.
Florida is the lightning strike capital, and thunderstorms can appear literally out of a blue sky, suddenly, with almost no warning. One day, the guys realized a big one was about to blow in on them, and they all started trotting to the main shed for cover. My husband, who was covering vulnerable machines, realized the two men on the far side of the site were never going to make it to cover in time, and called to one of the workers already in the shed, “Larry,” to take his (Jim’s) truck, which was closest to the shed, and go pick up those two guys. (Everyone left their trucks unlocked with the keys in them in that remote spot in the swampy woods. They also always rolled up their windows, because of the sudden rains, even though it made the trucks miserably hot when getting in them to go home.) They all knew the danger of lightning in that open area, as well as the misery of working in wet clothes. Larry hopped in Jim’s truck and gunned it over to the two grateful men. He hurried back, and they got to the shed just ahead of the rain. It was a couple of minutes later, as they all stood watching the downpour, that Jim realized Larry had rolled down the driver’s window in Jim’s truck then left it down. He complained to Larry that he’d left the truck window down, to which Larry said he’d forgotten to roll it back up, but no way was he going out in that downpour, and besides, it wasn’t that big of a deal anyway. So what if it got wet? (I should point out that the trucks all had cloth seats.) Jim said fine, he would roll it up himself, then. He dashed out into the downpour and rolled his truck’s windows up. The guys all chuckled when Jim came back in, soaked to the skin. All he said, though, was, “You’re right, Larry, it isn’t such a big deal for the seats to get wet.” It was after the rain ended that Larry found out what Jim meant. While Jim was out in the rain rolling up his own window, he took a minute extra to roll down all of Larry’s truck windows. 0606-16
If we lived in a perfect world and all had the attributes of a deity, it would be easy to say that Jim should have overlooked Larry’s treatment of his truck and just sucked it up. But we don’t live in heaven yet and none of us, as far as I know, are little gods. Larry was careless in not rolling up the window of Jim’s truck and then took a cavalier attitude about the potential damage to the truck seats from the rain and the inconvenience this would cause Jim. What Jim did was “man justice”, something I would expect a group of guys who knew each other well to do, and reinforces the understanding among them of how men are supposed to behave. Predictably, the men found it amusing that Jim was soaked to the skin and I’m betting they found Jim’s solution to Larry’s nonchalant dismissal of the open truck window in a downpour to be equally humorous. And Larry, if he’s one of the guys, would have laughed, too. Jim’s moral of the story: My man bros can use my truck as needed but if you hurt it, paybacks are hell.