On vacation, Officer Alex muses on lightning and refugee kids.
I tried to force the flame into my pipe but I couldn’t. No matter the angle, I couldn’t fight the wind blowing in from the southwest and it was killing me, the scent of the cheap Captain Black cherry pipe tobacco teasing me with its moist goodness just snatching at my nose, reminding me of how close it was but how far at the same time. I began to wonder how sea captains dealt with this over the centuries, while also considering the legions of smokers that would have mocked me more for this choice of tobacco blend than for attempting the delicate process of setting its fire in these harshest of conditions.
The choice was simple: It reminded me of my dad, and this being his pipe, it seemed not inappropriate. And as for the “how”—well, shit, apparently that’s up to each of us that choose to heat a briarwood in such an inhospitable a location.
During this process, I kept my patience by distracting myself with the lightning strikes in the distance, because if there is one thing to take your mind off the 50-mile-per-hour winds from the south over the Gulf of Mexico, it’s the heat lightning storms above it and their beauty.
We had learned today that the U.S. president had OK’d the deposit of 760 kids in the state of Tennessee and apparently we were to “just deal with it” in any form, shape or fashion they should encompass. The parents were pre-screened, but…wow? No notice, not for a single municipality or agency that would immediately be responsible for their health and well-being?
Is this how we work? Is this the best we could do? God, I hoped not because this was just sick when it comes to dealing with our tired, our poor, our huddled masses...especially when they were the guests of our most hospitable citizens.
This manner of taking care of things, this method (or rather lack thereof) of dealing with the most vulnerable…It was another unpleasant reminder of how we worked as a government, no matter how noble the cause or “right” the thinking.
Cops don’t get to think about the abandonment of folks, kids in particular—nor would we. I just hated knowing that our job had become all the more difficult again without so much as another wasted memo. Now they aren’t even going to do that much? Wow.
The quiet of the Gulf once again caught my attention and I considered how it didn’t care for this (or any one of my other problems), and that thought brought comfort as only true apathy can. But I was still left to think as the minutes and hours passed by. I wasn’t feeling “lonely”, but I definitely felt alone at these thoughts.
The pipe in my hands was held steady but I waited for the work to begin, and sure enough, a form of fire finally took seed. I began pulling in the sweet smoke—but not inhaling it (lest I pass out and die) and thoughts of my father once again surrounded me as I drank in the sound of the distant thunder and the crash of the ocean that preceded it, and I counted myself lucky to have been born among these shores rather than away from them.
Yes, these kids would be taken care of by my co-workers and the state of Tennessee, but when was enough “enough”? When would we at least acknowledge the problems? And what’s more, when would we quit exacerbating the existing ones?
Mine is just a minor headache in the scheme of things, but the point still seemed valid. Don’t just sprinkle kids across the U.S. because it “can” absorb them; ask first for the best assets, or more specifically? Start doing your job.
I’m just one man, but I’ve figured that much out.