decency

I walked in the door after finishing a job today and as soon as I saw Mum’s face, I knew something had happened. She was shaking as she held the phone in her hand.
“What happened?”, I asked her. As she explained, my blood began to boil.
She got a call. The caller identified himself as her Grandson. She asked which one. The caller, not prepared for the question asked, “which one do you think?” Big Red Flag. He did not know the name of my boys. The caller began to tell a tale of Covid testing, positive results, then a ensuing traffic stop which rendered my (supposed) boy in jail and in need of bailing out. She hung up on him and immediately called my son on his cell. He confirmed that he had made no such call. Meanwhile, the caller called another 4 times. All were ignored.

We’ve spent the better part of the afternoon calling the local and state police as well as the AG’s office. The number, traced back to Toronto, is on file and hopefully being investigated. The important thing is obviously no harm has come to my son. But my poor mother, having to briefly process the unthinkable. It infuriates me. How many times in my life do I have to ask the question,
“What is wrong with people?”

I don’t fear aging, I don’t worry about dying. I do, however, worry about being at a stage in life where I may become vulnerable to the ever increasing predatory scams perpetrated by people who will easily take advantage of the naturally protective and loving nature of people for the reward of a few dollars. It is daunting to realize that there really is no limit to how low someone will go to steal from another, and the bar is being set lower all the time.

For all of the advances we have made in society, we seem to lose another piece of humanity. If only people put as much effort into ways that we can be better as a society as they do into creating ways to defraud and cheat. The distrust that such behavior causes is irreversible and erodes at the very fabric of society. Want to see how bad it is? Say hi to a complete stranger in passing and watch their face, they will be 50 yards away from you before they recover enough from the surprise, ask themselves 35 ways to Sunday why you just greeted them (what do they really want!) and decide whether or not to respond. If you really want to mess with someone, sit next to them on a park bench or on public transportation. It will likely induce fear in someone.

Respect, courtesy and tolerance are all but gone in our society. Bad behavior is the norm. Volume is the new tool against logic, reason and listening. Facts are inconvenient and the truth is considered hurtful. But I know that many people, in their heart of hearts, want to believe in the good in people. They want to trust someone at their word and not have to assume the worst. Unfortunately, that basic desire is being challenged every day by unscrupulous and greedy people. Once trust is lost, I fear there is no coming back from that.

I will continue to try to see the good in people. One thing I have always believed is that there is good in everyone and I will always try to find it. I hope that I never lose that. It’s not an easy task, people test it every day. For now, I will say this.

I believe most people are good and that we only hear about the bad ones.

this could have been so much easier

One of the many things I enjoy about working again is that I was able to find something in my field of expertise. That is to say, anything involving the sale of something with wheels and a guy who sells it. I have done it all in the world of wheels from oil changes to repossessions and I love it all. When I began to help out my friend at his Powersports Finance company he soon found that there wasn’t a job in the building I couldn’t do (except accounting). Because I was to be part-time, he started me on some time-consuming projects that were taking too much time from his already overworked full-time crew. These tasks could be as simple as minor dealer issues, customer service calls or as complex as sorting out issues with local and state agencies. After cleaning up some small crises in my first week, he promoted me to a really fun one. I was to have a Motorcycle inspected and have a new Vehicle Identification Number assigned to it.

Having a new VIN# on a vehicle is a major ordeal. The entire history and pedigree of a vehicle are tracked by it. The state requires serious documentation from the owner in order to sign off on this task. As the lienholder, because we repossessed it, it is even harder. So I took my time to learn the exact process, what forms I needed to prove ownership, and what documentation I needed on hand to prove ownership. Over the course of the first week, I was able to gather all paperwork, pay all fees and gather all receipts and call for the appointment. Once the appointment was made at a local inspection station I would begin the process of coordinating how to get the motorcycle to them.

Between the initial attempt at making the appointment and actually completing it would take 2 weeks. It was a giant series of telephone tag and miscommunications (on the State Police’s part)until I was finally able to set the appointment for 10 AM Friday morning. time.

When Mike and I pulled in (Mike was helping me with the bike because it was very heavy) the trooper told us to park the trailer, unload the motorcycle and he would be right back. He then proceeded to get in his cruiser and drove off, after all of the efforts we had made to get there on time. He came back 15 minutes later with a cup of coffee. Mike was visibly pissed, I was containing myself for now.

Trooper Burns was a large, fit man with a grey buzzcut and a blank expression on his face. He began to ask me a series of questions that I had already answered, some of which weren’t even relevant. I kept my composure and explained my case again. Trooper Burns seemed to delight in being difficult but I stayed on point. At one point he told me to start the bike to prove that it runs, I told him there’s no need, it’s not a salvage inspection it’s a reassignment. He knew I had him and moved on. 15 more minutes of explaining our situation, how we came into possession and what we needed to be done he finally agreed to go online and do his due diligence. 30 minutes later he came out and said “This is the wrong bike”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“This is the wrong bike,” he said again.

I took a deep breath and patiently replied: “I heard that, please explain it to me”.Mike was facepalming in the background.

“This engine number is off of a bike recorded stolen in Florida. Can’t let you leave with it”. Now, this was not a completely unexpected turn of events but not ideal. We talked for a while about our options, what he was going to do next and when to contact him again. I went to shake his hand and he caught a glimpse of my Masonic ring. “I didn’t see that before…Good men the Masons. My brother and father both are members. I wish I saw that earlier I wouldn’t have given you such a hard time.”
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I paused, took a deep breath, and said,”Trooper Burns. As a Mason, I wouldn’t have needed to glimpse a ring in order to treat you decently. As a Mason, I would have been decent right out of the gate. This could really have been a whole lot easier”. I studied his face for a reaction, I think he understood me. “Show me the secret handshake,” he said as he smiled for the first time since we had met.

As Mike and I drove out of the lot, empty trailer and all he said “Brass Balls, man. You’ve got Brass Balls.”

“No, he knew I was right. He has a tough job and deals with a lot of assholes. What he didn’t recognize is that I’m not one of them. Now he knows.”

“So, tell me about this ring…”