It’s in your head

As soon as I walked in, the guard asked to look in my backpack. I handed it over and asked him, “Suppose it had been a purse. Do you look in purses, too?”

He said, “No, they won’t let us look in purses. If it were up to me, I’d look in everything. I don’t trust anybody.”

The thought of a mindset that sees random elderly men, even scary Negroes, as potential threats made me sad, so I stopped thinking about it. For about this long.

“That’s too bad,” I said. “Why don’t you trust anybody?”

Here he gave me a story of early and repeated violence. I don’t remember the specifics, but this young man has had thousands of times more nonviolent days than violent days, yet he may think about violence—albeit how to prevent it—most of the time.

His experience with violence started when he was young and impressionable, and there was more as he grew up. I can imagine what that’s like, although I can’t imagine his particular situation and beliefs, and of course they’re all that matter. Epictetus said, “We are disturbed not by what happens to us, but by our thoughts about what happens.” He nailed it.

So did St. Augustine, and Wolfgang von Goethe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William James, Carl Jung, Immanuel Kant, Anaïs Nin, Frank Lloyd Wright, Viktor Frankl, Abraham-Hicks, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Ernest Holmes, and of course Jesus. Maybe you too.

As the guard finished going through my bag, I said, “I’m sorry you don’t trust anybody. That’s got to be hard.”

“I wish things were different, but that’s the world we live in,” he said. I suppose I should have kept my mouth shut, which is what I usually do, but I felt an evangelistic zeal, and if the guard is reading this, I apologize, because I said, “That’s the world you live in.”

The same sort of thing seems to happen to cops, who spend their time dealing with the troubled and most troublesome among us and develop an understandably distorted view of people. The guard in question was polite and well-mannered, and probably a decent guy.

I wish him well.

I also had occasion to visit Chico’s Social Security Administration office, where the people are apparently fearless. Nonetheless, things were arranged so that the customers were seated in rows of chairs bolted to the floor and facing the entrance.

In addition, at the back of the waiting room was yet another armed guard. So all of us geezers and various dependents at the Social Security office had to sit with our backs to a man with a gun. I bet al Qaeda is near despair.