Jim came in following Brownie, who bounded up looking for his biscuit which I keep in a box near the bookcase. Brownie's eyes shine as he waits for the biscuit, pawing eagerly, and as usual I am careful not to lose a finger. Brownie is Jim's and Jim rescued him from the pond a few months ago. They are usually inseperable. It's as if Brownie knows Jim saved his life. Still, Brownie had one glaring exception to the inseperable comment.
One day just a few weeks ago Brownie skipped out from home _ Jim trustingly left the front door open after getting Brownie to promise he'd stay _ and Jim drove around town, near fantic, finally spotting Brownie sitting near a table at an outside cafe, entertaining the people at the table, smiling, tail flopping thumpingly, gesturing with that talented paw at a half uneaten pastry. Jim, relieved, had to laugh . . . Jim sat down and Brownie settled at his feet. Jim adjusted his baseball hat and then mentioned that a friend had come over the night before, election night, and by two in the morning, after hours of television commentary, he wished his friend would go home, which she finally did; Jim likes people, he's a people person, but he had overdosed on election coverage. He'd been happy Obama won, perplexed that Proposition 8 had passed. ``I could never imagine telling people how they can or can't lead their lives if they aren't hurting anyone else. It would just never occur to me,'' he said.
He was even more bothered by what had happened a few hours earlier, when he drove to see a building under construction. Jim's an electrician and the men at the building were involved in the various trades it takes to build a building and Jim was surprised at the things he heard said, especially one of the men, seemingly representing several _ who certainly didn't dispute what he said _ when he commented to Jim, ``Well, are you going to leave the country now that we're going to have a nigger for president?'' ``Did you say anything to him?'' I said. ``No, what would be the use? It's hopeless to argue with people who think like that . . .''
I was going to contradict Jim but then realized I had no business doing so since it's years since I worked in that kind of field _ I'd been a mover, toiled in a factory once or twice, dug ditches, was a hand on a Colorado dude ranch for a period when, hitchhiking from California to Missouri, I ran out of money and nearly perished in a blizzard in a mountain pass above Steamboat Springs and once I thawed out took whatever work I could get, that kind of thing . . . I remember one guy, years ago in an L.A. food supply plant, who was such a bigot he was almost the most tolerant man on earth. He didn't like blacks, Latinos, Spaniards, Swedes, Japanese, plus all the things I am, you name it. Now and then a friend and I, as we threw sacks of food around, would query him. ``Greeks?'' ``Hate them,'' he'd say, tossing a burlap sack of rice onto a truck. ``Austrians?'' ``Stuff the Austrians, all of them.'' ``What about Germans?'' ``Krauts?! You kidding? Look,'' he'd say, ``I don't even like myself, whatever I am.'' ``What are you?'' ``I don't know and I don't want to know. Got it?'' . . .
So he was an equal opportunity hater, or something like that. And he really was unpleasant _ there was no heart of gold underneath the crusty surface. But he did his fair share of work and no one ever really thought he was dangerous. Maybe he wasn't, maybe he let it all out verbally. You hope so, and that that's the case with the guys building that building, and that eventually they'll come around after time to some kind of acceptance of the way things are and not feel threatened. Meanwhile, Jim has at least saved Brownie, for which myself and plenty of other people are thankful, including biscuit bakers.
Causes Steve Hauk Supports
City of Pacific Grove Public Library, Pacific Grove, California; Animal Friends Rescue Project, Pacific Grove; Animal Welfare Information and Assistance,...