Monday, August 14, 2006

Crooked Souls Trying To Stay Up Straight

Oh Lord, why did you forsake me?
Oh Lord, don't be far away away
Storm clouds gathering beside me
Please Lord, don't look the other way

Crooked souls trying to stay up straight
Dry eyes in the pouring rain
The shadow proves the sunshine
The shadow proves the sunshine

-- Switchfoot in the song “The Shadow Proves The Sunshine”

Sorry folks. My usual dose of sweetness and light just ain’t happenin’ lately.

I’m going through a period, where I find I’ve lost my sense of humor. I can’t find it anywhere.

I hate the trains of thought I have during these periods. None of them seem too uplifting.

But I was thinking about several people I worked with once upon a time in Atlanta. We all worked together at Hartsfield for Delta Airlines.

Now I have to admit, probably already have here several times before, but I’m not the most observant person in the world. Maybe that’s why I like photography, with a camera in my hand, I force myself to observe. I always end up seeing things I would have never noticed otherwise.

Anyway, back to Atlanta. This was in spring/summer 1992. When I worked there, every six months, we would bid on what shift and days off we would work for the next six months. This ‘bid’ happened every April and October.

So from May of 1992 until I left the company to finish school in July of that year I worked with a new batch of guys and gals.

There was always a lot of moving around from one section of Delta’s operation there to another, but I, like many, tended to stay in the same area. I would know a bunch of the people already, but there was always movement.

This last bit of time that I worked with Delta had one of my best friends ever, JK, there. The Supervisor for our area and his ‘Lead Agents’, or just-a-bit-less-than-supervisors, also knew us and usually put JK and I together on whatever gate we would work on any given day.

There were a couple of new to us guys working in our area, and I didn’t think anything about them; remember how I said I was clueless a lot of the time? Well, within the first week of this new bid starting, the supervisor called JK and myself in for talks, one at a time, and asked if we had any problem working with Guy1 and Guy2.

I said no. I had already worked with them, and although this supervisor didn’t come out and say anything, I got the feeling that some people had expressed displeasure at having had to work with Guy1 and Guy2 already, this early in the new six month’s bid.

Plus, my friend JK and I were considered ‘serious’ Christians. It was one thing to believe in God and all, but to bring your bible to work and sit around and talk about God during much of your break time, well, JK and I were quite used to being thought of as outcasts. We got along with everyone, and we only talked about Jesus with one another and the people who would ask us specifically about our beliefs.

I realized a while later that this supervisor and his cohorts had intentionally put us with Guy1 and Guy2, not out of meaness, but because he saw JK and I, as Christians, as his best hope for a peaceful six months. If we would work with Guy1 and Guy2, then it would be a big weight off his shoulders, because JK and I were the types to just do our work as best we could and never whined to the Supervisor about things that went wrong.

To make a long story short, Guy1 and Guy2 were gay. And it turned out that at least one of them had the AIDS virus.

And over the few months that JK and I worked with them, we worked on the same gate pretty much every day any or all of us were working.

I think back on it now, and I guess it’s no ‘accident’ that this happened. Because one of these guys, MR, was very interested in spiritual things. And over the months we all worked together, we all had back and forth conversations about our beliefs, and in all of this talking, MR and Guy2 both heard the Gospel, several times.

I worked until the end of July that year, gave a two week notice, and began to go all around the airport during these last days to shake the hands of, and say goodbye to everyone I had worked with.

In the end, I left Atlanta, scared and sad because we LOVED Atlanta (still do) but also excited to be going off on new enterprises. Not every 29 year old gets a chance to start over, and when I had the chance to move back to Louisiana, to transfer from Southern College of Technology in Marietta to Louisiana Tech, I took it.

About a year later, my old buddy JK had called me and we were catching one another up on our families and he said, “Do you remember us working with MR and Guy2?”

I said, “Yeah.”

“MR died of AIDS last week.”

Me, “What, you must be kidding?” See, when we worked with them, nobody said so, but apparently he already had gone from HIV positive to actual AIDS. That’s what I mean about me being clueless, that’s why the other guys didn’t want to work with them, MR had AIDS. Not because they were gay, although for some of the guys I worked with at the time, that would have been enough for them to not want to work with them.

I was absolutely flummoxed. I just sat there stunned.

JK went on to tell me that MR left the company and had moved back to his hometown, and that’s where MR died.

That’s one of the things that helped MR and I become good work friends, was because his home town in Mississippi was about two hours from my home town in Monroe, Louisiana. We had actually heard of each other's home towns.

So that’s basically my sad story. I wish very, very much that I had known about his sickness and that he had gone home to Mississippi to die.

I’ve been thinking about MR a lot lately, and I'm not really sure why. But he keeps popping up in my mind.

As a man, I hate that another man that I considered a friend, died. As a Christian, I am glad and grateful that he was interested enough to let me tell him the Gospel story, and that, over time, he heard it numerous times. Many die and never hear what Jesus did for them.

I hope to see him again someday.

Remember to be kind to those you encounter, at work and elsewhere in the world, and:

... and be ready always to give an answer to every man who asketh you the reason for the hope that is within you with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15)

Yeah, I know that was a bummer of a story, so I'll leave you with a couple of photos I took while exploring yesterday (Sunday) evening.

Maybe a couple of purdy pictures will cheer us both up.

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