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From country to city, From farm to fireworks…Through marriage & children, Through employment & ownership, Life continues to be an amazing journey…

Thursday, February 8

I Love My Bar - Meet A Regular

I love MY bar… do you? I know that most of my readers are pretty straight laced, and wouldn’t know much about any bar, much less a local watering hole. However, I like to partake in a spirit or two on a fairly regular basis, and I DO KNOW the value of a good neighborhood hangout.

If you do have a local hangout, you see the same folks day in and day out, and don’t think too much of it except to say, “Hi”, and acknowledge the regulars that you “know”, but don’t “really know”. That can also happen in the common workplace break room if you work for a company that has LOTS of employees.

Tonight, my story is about Dan.

Dan is a guy that I’ve seen in my bar for years. He’s always nice, we always shake hands and say hello, and occasionally we even buy each other, or each other’s employee’s, friends, or acquaintances a drink. Well, tonight, it just worked out in the logistical scheme of things that I was sitting by Dan, and all of our significant “others”…be it friends or colleagues were otherwise occupied.

So, for the first time ever, I actually TALKED to Dan. Now I’m 44, and Dan is over 60, maybe a few-some-odd years over…, he never divulged the exact number. Dan is a nice looking man for under his age, and better looking when you know how old he actually is. But, I usually talk to my own group, my husband, or my employees and never really talk to the “others”. Tonight, I realized that it’s a real shame that we as individuals DON’T ever TALK with those that we “know”, but “don’t know”.

People have fascinating stories. Every person that you pass on the freeway at rush hour, every person you find your self in line behind at a store…every person has a story. Sometimes, it’s quite intriguing to find out what the story that the “regular guy” next to you might tell.

Dan had no choice as to what his parents were, or what choices they made. His father was born into a heart-land farm family not too much different than mine. His folks came from Nebraska. His father had a piece of land and as a young man in love after marrying his mother decided to sell this said parcel of land for a fair and profitable price. At this time, (somewhere around 1932, a LONG TIME AGO), he had some money, several thousand dollars, and was made aware that farm land was for sale in Cuba. His father bought TWO SECTIONS OF LAND (1280 ACRES) in Cuba for $2800.00. I don’t know about where you live, but I grew up on a farm of 160 acres (1/4 Section), and anybody then that owned only one huge parcel “section (640 acres)” was considered a land baron.

Cuban law is MUCH different than ours, and at the age of 10, Dan got a job in a small engine repair shop, with the intention of cleaning the shop after school. Within a short period of time (1 yr), he was the FOREMAN of this business. He had a child at twelve, and married his child’s mother (22 years old). He was making GOOD money as a shop foreman, but had to have his wife co-sign for an apartment in which for them to live in.

Dan’s family was very religious, in which many of the brothers or Uncles were pastors and religious men. Dan’s father moved his wife to Cuba, but when Dan was born, they were state-side, and he was born an American citizen. Mr. Dan owned this farm in Cuba, and made a LOT OF MONEY in Cuba as a farmer and land baron. When Fidel Castro came into power, he befriended the father, and his father even donated lots of money to the Castro “early young” empire to better the path of Cubans and to try to support the Castro philosophy that “said” it wanted to accomplish better things and a better way for the people and the country of Cuba.

Well, go figure that Castro eventually threw Dan’s family OUT OF CUBA (white family), and confiscated his father’s land, all of the money he’d made that was in Cuban bank accounts, and everything this man had worked for. Dan’s family came back to America, and his father had $22 dollars in his pocket, a wife, and four children, and Dan was still a young man.

Dan’s father came back home, and continued to make a living as a farmer in the heartland, but never again reached the wealth or status he had in Cuba, but learned lessons hard to swallow. Dan is now over 60, and is an accomplished pilot, businessman, and musician. He told me stories of how he learned the Bible, and how he is not particularly religious, but appreciates his learned background. He’s been married more than once, and is currently single. He shared with me the wonderous meeting of a “new lady” recently that shares his love for music and performing and stated that he is happy and very blessed in his life so far.

Dan stated that his family was religious, but he was NOT. He stated that he appreciates me in my Republican beliefs, but he is NOT the conservative “religious guy”. While he considers himself Republican, he stated that when his father was raising them in Cuba, his father had him and his twin brother read the Bible through, and asked at the end of the reading which portion was their favorite part? Dan stated that his favorite part was in relation to the Devil… that it was the Devil that originally proposed the actual difference between right and wrong, and without that…why would there ever need to be any discussion of religion? If everything was perfect, and everything was clean and Godly, and no DEVIL ever showed us the “other side”, then how would we KNOW to be good? While Dan was about 7-8 at this time, he said his father never quite “swallowed” that version of “what you got out of the Bible”.

I told him that whether he realizes it or not, he has religion. He is spiritual. That is the ultimate understanding of religion. Spirit has no rules. Spirit has no formal organization. Spirituality is the blessing we gain when we’ve experienced the knowledge of right and wrong, it’s the water in our eyes when something beautiful happens, on any level. Spirit is that “thing” that makes a sunset strike us in our very soul, or the acknowledgement of the beauty of a blooming weed on the side of the road. Heaven will be a compilation of all of the souls from a global picking pool. Titles and organized clichés will not matter. And, the Devil…was originally an angel that turned sour, but in retrospect, the “guy” that has saved all of our lives. I’ve never quite heard it that way, but Dan is a brilliant man…without the Devil, we would have no bar to rise above. Without the bad, there is no good to strive for.

Dan will be in heaven, and I’m glad I had a moment to hear his story. It was fascinating, and I am a better person for hearing it, and now when I say, “Hi”, it will mean a little more. Take the time to get to know the people you just “recognize as familiar” a little bit more. Think about the people you can identify by look, but never bother to know by name or personal history. If we lose the ability or even the simple NEED to KNOW those around us, we are going to give away our nation, for it’s the stories that we all can tell… it’s the lives that we all collectively live… in a quagmire of generic circumstances that makes America the greatest nation on earth. Never take any ONE person you might meet for granted.

After you actually TALK to someone generic that you meet, and you find they are truly generic, or bothersome… then they are part of the problem, not part of the solution. Just, don’t be so disgusted with folks in general that you cannot take the time in your busy day to tell the difference. I’m a better person tonight because I took a moment to hear part of Dan’s story.