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no favors
if it takes all kinds, we've got plenty

970426-
970520







    four pm of a day in early may of 1975 saw a tornado strut down 72nd street in omaha, nebraska. in our home, brother, sister, and i all obeyed the sirens even though our mother was at work. some things are not meant to be trifled with. huddled in between a wicker baby-basket and the cinderblock wall, i'm pretty sure i heard the storm, but when i turned down the radio to verify the roar, my sister's panic was louder than the disk jockey's.
    afterwards, evidence of the near-miss was everywhere. nature's anger missed our house by six blocks and the one we were buying, by a meager three. the latter house lost three shingles. there was debris throughout the new neighborhood from ex-houses which weren't so fortunate as ours. my sister found a $20 bill in the front yard, possibly from the horse-track. maybe she heard it coming...
    for perhaps a year there was flotsam in many of the streets: garbage put there by man and nature, waiting for man to haul it away.
    every spring a tornado hits san jose. the gutters are strewn with the debris of human life obsoleted by the preceeding year: waterheaters accompanied by old sinks and broken furniture, eviscerated televisions without tubes or electronics, waiting for the sanitary engineers to haul away. this ritual takes me back to omaha every year, but without the risk.
    the last saturday of april i parked my car on some vegetable debris when i went to a garage sale. it didn't seem a significant pile when I parked, but the lawn-cuttings were strewn about in an unsightly mess as i returned to my car. the homeowner stood on her porch, awaiting my return.
    "why did you park there?" she asks. i figured to be polite, since i was clearly in the wrong. i chose to answer what she probably wanted to hear instead of answering the question she asked.
    "i didn't think there was enough to disturb. if you let me borrow a rake, i'll clean it up."
    this woman just looks startled for a moment. then she recovers and says to me, "don't do me any favors." she looked at me. was that all? was she finished? i stared right back, waiting for her to continue. no response.
    "ok" i said, and i drove off.
    ok. your humble narrator has a personality that's never really happy unless he's fixing or making something. my wife is most-fulfilled doing kwai chang kane's "let me help you" thing, solving other people's problems. one of my college buddies isn't happy unless he's miserable, another's not happy unless he's scoring points against his cruel world, and just about everyone on the web knows a high-functioning autistic who is fully actualized only when writing computer code.
    don't do me any favors? while i try not to curse for emphasis, what the fuck does that mean?
    it's been weeks, and i still haven't figured out why she even bothered to come out on her porch. i realize there are people who's only pleasure in life is complaining. but are there really people who take the time to complain but prefer not to have a situation resolved for free?
    what a dismal little life.









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