Keeping it sane…

Interesting morning…in the “people are complicated” kind of way. Caution…profanity…

Had an hour or so of daylight before I had to leave for work this morning, so I tossed on a dirty, white work-shirt and scruffy, oil-stained jeans and headed out to the driveway to finish up some work on Big Iron, the big Dodge beastie.

Seems its transmission has been a bit flugy (that’s a technical term) and before I take it to the transmission shop (where they will scream joyously, “REPLACE ALL THE THINGS!”), it was worth a shot to change the pressure control solenoid, which (says the internet), is usually the problem with fluginess.

But that’s another story…one about complex problems with machines. THIS story is about complex problems that make my mechanical woes look trivial. THIS story is about things I can’t fix.

This story is about people.

Lying under the truck in the driveway, finishing up bolting the transmission pan back on, dirty, greasy, wet (yes, it was RAINING…in Texas…in August!), I hear yelling from down the street. Screaming really.

After a few moments it resolves itself into a heated argument…man and woman…mostly the man yelling/screaming. Obscenities flowed.

Never a good thing. Conflict between couples is inevitable…and even desired on occasion…but this intensity of behavior is a sign that nothing constructive will follow…at least in the short term.

I sighed, kicked my tools out from under the truck, crawled out myself, and dirt and all, walked around the house and down the street.

Four houses down…a rent house I think…we don’t know the couple. An attractive, 30-ish pair.

I walked to within a few feet of the man and stopped, facing him and crossing my arms. It had the desired effect…some of his rage transferred to me.


It was at this moment I realized I wasn’t carrying my cell phone…or my Colt. Ah well. All in.

I took a step closer and said in a normal tone, “Just keeping it sane.”


I kept my voice even, glanced at the woman, “Just making sure nobody gets hurt.”

More of his attention shifted to me. Wasn’t really sure if that was a good thing or not. There was a lot of rage in those eyes. “YOU THINK I’D HURT HER? YOU THINK THAT’S WHAT THIS LOOKS LIKE?”

Rationality was not in the forefront of this man’s eyes. It was time. Get her out of it. Transfer the confrontation to me. Diffuse it or end it…and it was an even bet which way it’d go. I locked eyes with him and my voice changed, no longer neutral and the challenge clear, “That’s EXACTLY what this looks like.”

His face registered confusion for a moment, and with effort, he tore his gaze from mine and looked at the situation…and this time, I think he actually saw it the way I did.

He was fully dressed, primed/tensed for a fight…ready, whether he knew it or not, for physical combat. The woman had fled the house in a hurry and was nude except for one sock. She was carrying the other one. Grasping it really, in an agitated twisting motion. She was in the street, sobbing, but keeping her eyes on him and keeping one of the cars in front of the house between them. Fear was plainly evident on her face.

He tried to say something…stopped…looked back at me. I SAW the fight drain away.

He gasps, “Jesus Christ!” looks back at her, then back to me. “Holy shit…” then looks at her again, “Oh gawd no…”

His emotions changed again. Fear I think. Maybe loss. Intense, but there was no fight. Wherever that had come from…it had fled back to its lair, leaving a gaping hole behind.

He fishes his keys out of his pocket, brushes past me and gets in the other car and drives away. He was sobbing.

The woman stepped around onto the sidewalk and starts toward the house. She’s still crying.

I ask, “Do you want the police?”
“No,” she manages, “he’s never hurt me.” as she reaches her front door.
“Do you have somebody you can call, that can keep you company for a bit?”
“Yes.” she steps inside. “Thank you.” and she starts closing the door.
“…and you’ll call them?”
She pauses. “Yes.” and then she’s gone.

Emotions reeling, I wander back to the house, put up my tools, kiss my sleeping wife on the ear, and then shower…the water as hot as I could stand it. I stood there…pondering…until the hot water ran out…

Lives come together, burn bright, and fly apart. When, how, and why I’m not sure I’ll ever understand.

Maybe they’ll be all right…maybe they’ll work it out…but I doubt it. There are a lot of things that are helpful in a relationship…a lot of things that make it work…but there are TWO things that are absolutely REQUIRED.

Love and respect.

…and there’s no room for either if there’s fear.

I’ll see you on road.

Daniel Meyer

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