Wednesday, May 6, 2009
© 2009, the Institute for Applied Common Sense
The Logistician had many quirks. He loved to channel surf. But he engaged in a different form of channel surfing. He tried to watch as many TV shows as possible.
Fascinated by everything, he’d watch a movie on TCM, The Golden Girls, C-Span, American Dad, the History Channel, Cathy Griffin, and then switch back and forth during lulls.
But occasionally he would, as he used to say, “Hit the wall.” This referred to coming across something which forced him to instantaneously focus on one program. At its end, he tried to determine what distinguished it from others.
He came up with the phrase from his surfboarding days. Well, perhaps it wasn’t really surfboarding, but rather boogey boarding. (A boogey board is a small piece of roughly rectangular hard foam, hydrodynamicallly shaped.)
One of his buddies was a professor. His students gave him a boogey board as a gift.
While hanging out with his buddy’s family, the Logistician fell in love with the sport. His buddy’s kids later gave him one as a present. Whenever he went to the beach, he packed his board.
In fact, he stopped taking women on vacations, opting to sleep with the board, since it gave him what he long sought – a hard mattress, the ability to consume a constant stream of information (uninterrupted), and a peaceful night’s sleep.
He took Boogey with him to a Club Med in Mexico once. There were two beaches. One was for patrons of the resort. The other was a far more dangerous beach. He was warned that only very experienced swimmers should attempt to ride the waves on the GO beach.
Insufficiently challenged by the smaller waves on the GM beach, he headed to the other, just he and Boogey. The waves were 3-4 times larger than on the GM beach. Yet, he thought them manageable.
After waxing his board, out he swam. He got a sense of the wave rhythm, and caught the “perfect wave.” He instantly realized that he was not as experienced as he thought, and found himself on the top of the wave, instead of inside the “tube.” He described the feeling as like God reaching down, grabbing him during an earthquake, and shaking him in the water.
All of a sudden, the wave crashed, and so did he. Disoriented, and his lungs full of sea water, he was tossed to the bottom of the surf… on his head.
As he lay there motionless, and the tide rolled out, he realized that he had “hit the wall.” The wave had his attention.
We watched a C-Span presentation recently, and “hit the wall,” Logistician style.
When we first came across it, there was a woman describing her experience with the legal system following a rape. Something was different about her tone. For a minute, we thought that she was the attorney for the victim, and a victims’ rights advocate.
However, we quickly abandoned that notion, and her intensity soon revealed that she was the victim. She described her frustration with the lengthy delays associated with sending the perpetrator to death row. The camera occasionally panned the silent audience.
She told the story of a detective, requesting DNA samples, and her subsequent discovery that she had identified the wrong black man.
The white woman went on to describe her feelings and the fact that this man had lost 10 years of his life in prison. Some suggested that he was probably a “bad person” anyway, and that she had done nothing for which she should apologize or feel guilty.
Despite this, she wanted to meet the man face-to-face, and he agreed.
While the angle of the camera slowly expanded, we next saw a young black man sitting on the dais, who appeared to us to not have one aggressive bone in his body. We said to ourselves, "This couldn't have been the rapist."
We soon realized that we had met the co-authors of the book, Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption.
After the rape victim described her immediate feeling that this could not have been the man as she observed him walking up her steps, she described him saying that he had no malice toward her, and had already forgiven her.
Cotton, the young black man and co-author, then stood up to tell his story in a very soft-spoken, deliberate manner, mentioning that the actual perpetrator was in prison with him. He also noted that he asked God what he had done to deserve this treatment.
This is story telling at its very best. It will also impress upon you the Common Sense importance of not rushing to judgment and getting all the facts. Check it out, if you interested in “hitting the wall.”
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