Thursday, March 12, 2009

Man Up

Man Up

Khuk Khak, Thailand – Well, if you did the shit, then MAN UP to the shit. That’s what the guy said, and I’ve thought it myself on occasion.

It occurred to me as I was out there in the garden, unearthing some enormous slug larvae, bigger than your thumb, destined to become one of those huge beautiful Thai butterflies had it not been for my intervention in their gestation, deep down in the year-old compost pile, being right where they needed to be, semi-dry, moldy, humid, doing what they do.

‘I just fucked them up,’ I thought, watching them squirm in the sunlight.

I could give you some particulars. Already have. ‘Genuine Fuck Up’. That’s what they used to say. Many times in employment situations, I heard statements beginning with, ‘ How in…the…HELL does somebody…?’

I’d be cringing, looking down at the floor, feeling small, sweating, heart racing, slope-shouldered, stooped. I had it coming. You know I did.

Like the tow truck stint and that lady’s transmission. And the bridge incident with the telescoping micro-wave antenna on the mobile unit. And the circus fire back in the ‘60s. And that ATM thing just here a few months back. That’s small potatoes, man, small potatoes. Ha.

Ok, give you an example; I don’t know if you heard about the O-rings. Yeah, THOSE O-rings. You might have read about it, or seen it on the news. They ended up calling the thing ‘The Shuttle Disaster’ on the local news, like it was some kind of biiiiig deal.

External fuel tank, they said. Well? What’s that prove?

And then there was that piece of Styrofoam, and two strikes and you’re out, with those guys.

The Styrofoam. Yeah. That piece that came off during launch and knocked off the tiles. Burned up on re-entry.

Suuure. There were a LOT of questions. Me, too. Like, ‘How in the hell does a piece of Styrofoam…? Are we talking the same thing here? Styrofoam, right? The shit around a tv set when it comes from the plant. Same shit. Ok, how does this shit knock off a tile? You tell me. A lot of finger-pointing going on.

And, what about the glue those guys was using on the tiles, huh? I saw some shit on tv that’s 100%, can pull a locomotive. Why don’t they get some of that?...instead of some kind of bullshit glue at $15,000 a tube that can’t stand a Styrofoam hit. C’mon, now.

As you can see, and that’s just two questions, it wasn’t just ONE person’s fault. But what the hell, you take your licks in life, move on, as they say, and go on to the next job.

Well, I didn’t mean to go off like that, but, you know, there’s always two sides to every story, and sometimes more.

But I can man up. I accept the responsibility for the shit that was my responsibility…mr. O-ring man.

The Chicago gas pipe explosion. That was a good one.

Too long a story, but I can man up to it. I wasn’t the guy on the backhoe, but I was supposed to be telling him where to dig.

And then there was that thing in Vietnam, where uh…do you want to hear this?

Ok. Tet of ’68. Big deal for the embassy there. I failed to pass along an important memo, long story short. Forest Gump kind of a thing.

What do I mean? What I mean is, you know, fate. Stuff goes into one pile, other stuff goes into another pile…the shit that can wait.

Like email replies an’ shit. Some of the shit can wait a day, two, three, maybe a couple weeks, and most certainly until tomorrow morning.

“THIS SHIT CAN’T WAIT!” they kept screaming, like the whole fucking communist offensive was my fucking fault.

But I can man up to the shit. Huh? No. I wasn’t working for the embassy, but I was working for the government…for the country. I was there to help ‘em get that thing turned around. It’s kind of a sore spot because of all the accusations over the years.

And then there w…huh? Working for the government? Yes. I was in the army.

Yeah. After that they made me a heliclopter medic and sent me up north.

Copter. That’s what I said. ‘Helicopter’. That’ what I said.

Anyway, you told me to go on. But I didn’t want to take this story to Vietnam.

Then there was that time, a short stint, with bridge inspection and the ferry…man, I tell you what, I’ve been blamed for a lot of shit. I can man up to that shit. It was my fault, ok? It was my…fucking…fault.

Ok? Ok? They already reamed my ass for it. Can we move on?

There was stuff that went under the radar that later, when it surfaced, like Daschle just lately, caused immediate termination. It wasn’t falsified evidence, because at the time, it wasn’t evidence. So how could it be falsified? Besides that, it was never submitted. So, there. Big fucking legal headache.

There’s all kind of shit, my friend. Alllllll kind of shit. I was the guy ‘behind’, but more accurately, ‘before’ a lot of shit came down, that you only hear about on ‘the Rest of the Story.’

You know something? This shit was all coincidental when you look back on it, like, shit happened at a critical point where if you’d done one thing and not something else, it wouldn’t have happened. Zigged when you should have zagged. Know what I mean?

Went to sleep instead of watching the monitors, signed off instead of really inspecting the shit, went to 7/11 instead of monitoring the valves, tossed it into this stack instead of that one. Simple shit. Simple every day shit.

Give you one more example, then I’m gonna cut this shit off. Member the time when that sub went down and they never discovered the cause, nukes on board? And that oil rig fire? Make that two.

You know, like ancestral memories, one leads me to another.

They wanted me to do time for that shit, not just another ass-reaming. Cost the company billions. Major setbacks. After asking me if I knew what I was, the guy spelled out, ‘Genuine Fuck Up’, that time, in a Texas accent, which makes it stand out.