Tales of a Traveling Airbrush

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Never Wrong

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Eddie screamed “are you completely out of your mind?”

Plenty of appropriate expletives were included in the loud dialog as Eddie defended his precious water supply from the invader. Jerry just stood there, oblivious of anything being wrong.

“You keep your hands off my stuff or I will kick your ass” he continued.

Spaghetti Eddie has one of the most sophisticated portable food concession operations in the country. He brings good Italian food to Leesburg Bike Fest and other venues nationwide. His operation is all about having everything he needs everywhere he goes. The several unit fleet includes kitchen and serving trailer, freezer and stock semi, and living quarters with office trailer. In spite of all this equipment, everywhere he goes he is dependant on hooking into the local infrastructure to have an ample supply of electricity to provide power to this efficient operation, and water for food preparation and cleanliness. Just like twin umbilical cords, they are his life lines.

Jerry had helped himself to Eddie’s water hose, unhooking it without permission to perform some incidental task, rather than find an unoccupied bib, and the interruption in the flow threatened Eddie’s ability to thrive. He became understandably upset with Jerry’s self centered behavior and complete disregard for others.

I imagine that if my mother had been on life support and Jerry came along and unhooked one of the wires, I would have become just as animated as Eddie.

I heard this story after I had invited Jerry and his wife Bobbie, to park their motor home at my house last winter. Little did I know at that time that as the result of having this couple on my place that I was about to experience a series of bizarre events that would make a lesser man cringe in disbelief and run to suck on the nearest gas pipe.

It all began around the patio furniture one evening with Jerry telling me about an aggressive plan. He was having a website built to inform the world about his “Cycle Care” product line but the computer in his coach didn’t work. Could he and his wife go and use the computer in my office? They expected the revisions would be done by the end of next week, and it would be nice to monitor what the web builder was doing. I said “sure.” At the end of next week the webmaster still wasn’t done, I had a weekend engagement so while I was away Jerry and Bobbie developed a pattern of entering my domicile and using my office at anytime of the day or night whether I was home or not and this behavior continued well past when the web building project was complete.

I got home one day and found that the lights had been left on in my office. As a little kid I endured an occasional lecture about the cost of electricity from my father who would stress the importance of turning off the lights when done.

“Hey Jerry,” I mentioned casually in passing one afternoon “ when I got home the other day I found the lights had been left on in my office, You are welcome to use the office but when you are done , please remember to turn off the lights.”

Forgetting to turn the lights off is not a serious crime and anyone in touch with the fact that as humans we make mistakes would cheerfully admit that it is possible that one of them forgot. Not with Jerry. Rather than receive the courteous reply that would have come from anyone else on the planet that was truly grateful for the privilege of using my house, I received a surprise.

“David,” Jerry began “we have already gone over this; and as I pointed out to you before, I have absolutely never ever left the lights on in your house.”

This disregard for simple courtesy was the first indication of some sort of physiological twist that exists with my guest. Stunned by his behavior I would slowly come to realize this man suffers from the delusion that he is “never wrong.”

I mentor men on a spiritual path. A complete lack of respect for the truth typically keeps us separate from those around us and blind to our own disruptive behavior. Jerry serves very nicely as an example to these men I work with. An example of what not to do. As the weeks stretched out to months I would become all too familiar with the pattern and obsession with being in control and the delusion of never being wrong.

Several times when I arrived home from an excursion to Lazydays to give the informative seminar “Rolling Art,…Why a Mural?” or meet with a couple seeking airbrushed artwork for their RV or from a weekend pinstriping at a Harley store, I would go into the house and find that the office light had been left on. When I would see my guests later, I would attempt to casually mention this in an effort to encourage the desired result. This only served to open up a tirade of denial as they swore up and down that they had never left the lights on. To punctuate this, the next time Jerry was in my house he took a piece of masking tape off my workbench and applied it over the light switch with the wording scribbled in Sharpie “There, I turned the lights off”

Bobbie and Jerry wore a path down from the door of their motor home in the backyard to the back door of my house as they conducted more and more of their business in my office.

One weekend I was away at the Harley Store in Naples and returned home Sunday afternoon in my van. I parked out in front of my home and walked around to the back of the garage to go inside. I found the door to my home standing wide open. I went inside and found the lights on in my office. I attended to several tasks that took a few minutes and as I went out into the backyard, I met Bobbie coming up the sidewalk with a folder in her hand, evidence that relieved me of any mystery. As we chatted a few moments, I found out that Jerry was in Orlando for the day and figured that she was doing something in my office when she realized that she needed something from the coach, leaving the door open and the light on, no big deal. I don’t know why I didn’t just talk to her about it then, perhaps the conversation would have been productive. Instead, a day or so later, I brought up the incident in front of them both, Jerry had no way of knowing what I had experienced when I got home that afternoon but right before my very eyes he prompted her to take his cue and they both became adamant and animated, swearing up and down that they had not only not been in the house that particular afternoon but had not been in the house for several days and as the duet monolog became even more creative they even promoted the idea that prowlers from the neighborhood had come and left my door open.

A complete disregard for the truth keeps us separate. Accepting that part of the human condition is the fact that we make mistakes at an alarming rate is the beginning of humility.

The inability to be wrong is probably a learned response to the reactionary behavior of their parents. We adopt our personality and formulate our method of operating through life as a child. The problem with delusional thinking is that it separates us from humanity, one incident at a time and if this method of operation is never checked, our lives continue to be run by a five year old. People like Jerry require a never-ending supply of new people in their lives to provide them with the ability to maintain the delusion that they are right. As these people are injured one-at-a-time by blind behavior, they, one-at-a-time, realize the futility of expecting or ever receiving fair treatment or the truth, so they give up and leave. If I remain focused on their unloving dysfunctional behavior I remain as separate from the sunshine of the spirit as they are. Knowing this I wonder what allowed me to let this couple remain on my place for so long? In hindsight I now realize how appropriate an invitation to leave would have been, and would have saved me a lot of heartache.

Bobbie and Jerry wanted to trade motor homes so I put them in contact with my dear friend Lee at Lazydays who found them an old but impressive forty five foot coach. The first trip they made with this coach was to my house where they parked it in the site I had created for my RV and plugged into my 50 amp service. Something went wrong with the dinosaur era inverter and the coach filled with white electric smoke. The resulting surge burned the wire an inch and a half back from the connection inside the 50 amp receptacle box leaving my electrical service wrecked. Was there any surprise when Jerry concocted a story about what happened that relieved himself in his eyes as to any responsibility for burning up my electric service? No matter what happens Jerry is never wrong. Or at least according to him. Thank goodness Bike Week in Daytona arrived to suck them and all their stuff off of my property for good.

The electric repair was made a couple weeks later by a licensed electrician friend of mine who visits in his motor home. The procedure was an exhausting sequence that cost time. The dirt that the “never wrong” duo tracked into my house has been swept up, the repairs for the wreckage have been made and paid for and eventually when the septic tank gets pumped, the last traces of their presence on my property will be gone.

My number one priority is to be a blessing to others everywhere I go and that, in turn fills my heart with joy, peace, enthusiasm and zeal for the life I live.

At my first motorcycle rally I saw Jerry from a distance. Jerry now has a shiny forty five foot tandem axel motor home and a fancy stacker trailer to pull behind, no doubt to plough a swath of destruction with in the lives of others.

He was alone with all that shiny grandeur and I felt sorry for him. Like the rich man that worships wealth, power, enterprise and fancy toys will never know the kingdom of heaven, he has created his own reality and must be a lonely man. Greed leads to an insatiable appetite for more.

It is a shame that takers are attracted to givers. I guess the reason for this typical fusion is because we fit together so well. The selfish behavior of my guests left me stunned, resentful and no longer standing in the sunshine of the spirit. Hey, wait a minute, I am a servant. I was involved in the act of serving. Forgiveness will restore me and is the first order of the new day.

Like paying it forward, forgiveness leads to gratitude, and gratitude is how I demonstrate to others the relationship I have with my heavenly father. I remain grateful to have a home to share with others and for the resources to repair and clean up the mess and the damage left behind by the thoughtless. My regard for others provides the source of the joy that fills my heart. A valuable lesson for me is to distinguish that it is not that people are good or bad; but to embrace that we are all a blend of good and bad. I possess the same ability to justify wrecking other people’s lives if I convince myself that I have to be right all the time. Slowly a mental delusion such as this fueled by resentment could very easily infiltrate my mind and become a stronghold.

I choose to forgive. I was blindsided by seductive manipulation. I am grateful that I have a wonderful home to share with others. I am grateful for grace and that this chapter is over.

As my attitude becomes, once more, elevated above the cares of the world and I am restored to happiness and joy, the feeling shows up in my work, a labor of love, and the next thing I have is a deeper connection taking place with the people I meet, the birds in the sky are singing a sweeter song and true friends are calling to invite me to visit them in their home to break bread and celebrate thanksgiving.


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