The Big Apple & The Rotten Apple

From the days when it was New Amsterdam, New York City occupied an important place in America. Some say that it was America’s First City (Chicago,  the Second City). My ancestors who arrived in the United States from Europe landed here except for the pirates who settled in the Carolinas.

I have had great adventures in New York City – memories that will stay with me always.  I worked there at times, I vacationed at times, I stayed with friends in swanky high-rise flats overlooking Central Park. But I doubt that I would ever return unless I was connecting a flight at JFK. The place has become a rotten, fetid, crime-ridden, sewer and it has not come close to hitting bottom. The city is in many ways emblematic of the ‘progressive’ deterioration of America that everyone can see. They can’t hide it anymore.

Elections are fixed, the most corrupt among us are thrust into positions of power and nobody really knows who is running America today. It’s not the walking corpse and the whore. That’s for certain. Generals plan juntas, trillions are voted for graft, and it smells like New York City during a trash strike.

 

The ARL-44 (War Thunder) heavy tank was built by France in 1949, four years after World War 2 ended. Only 60 were built and they were phased out in 1953 because they were too late for the big show and not good enough for the Cold War production.

It was a mystery tank a while ago so I won’t make a mystery of it this time, but I wanted to address tank evolution almost for the heck of it. The ARL-44’s 90 mm rifle could certainly punch through the frontal armor of most if not all German tanks from World War 2. Its 122mm sloped armor could (in theory) stop a round from a Tiger 2/King Tiger but not if fired at point-blank range. The ARL would have faired well against German tanks but the German tanks were gone and the newer post-war machines took their place.

Three of the five-man crew sat in the turret, and there were a number of awkward features to the tank. It had been developed secretly during the war and as tank design changed, the French tried to keep up while leaving artifacts in the design from older tanks. At the end of the war, the Allies were not inclined to give their newer high velocity 90mm guns to the French so they had to wait and marry it to the design, which needed to be modified to accept that rifle.

 

A comment arrived in e-mail about Arizona being a type of nuclear test area wasteland. The commenter confused AZ with parts of New Mexico. This is where I live atop the Mogollon Rim

 

Things that you can say in response to anything:

-As the prophecy foretold.

-But at what cost?

-So…it has come to this?

-Is this why fate brought us together?

-…just like in my dream.

-There is no escape from destiny.

-In this economy?

-…and then the wolves came.

 

A Story

I don’t know if it’s a true story but it’s made its way through the Internet and it’s not original with me. I decided to share it because of its meaning:

I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be the last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead, I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked.. ‘Just a minute, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie.

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.

There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.

She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.

She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing,’ I told her.. ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’

‘Oh, you’re such a good boy,’ she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive through downtown?’

‘It’s not the shortest way,’ I answered quickly.

‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.’

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued in a soft voice.. ‘The doctor says I don’t have very long.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired. Let’s go now.’

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move.

They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

‘How much do I owe you?’ She asked, reaching into her purse.

‘Nothing,’ I said.

‘You have to make a living,’ she answered.

‘There are other passengers,’ I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,’ she said. ‘Thank you.’

I squeezed her hand and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.

But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

PEOPLE MAY NOT REMEMBER EXACTLY WHAT YOU DID, OR WHAT YOU SAID ~BUT~ THEY WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER HOW YOU MADE THEM FEEL.

37 COMMENTS

  1. I treat my elderly patients like they were my own parents. Sometimes the thing they crave the most is a familiar face. It sure got foggy in here!

    • Years ago I was covering the night shift at the local VA hospital. I didn’t know the patients but had the sign-out list from the daytime team. One old man had been admitted for recurrent fevers of unknown origin (FUO). The usual suspects (pneumonia, urinary tract infection, etc) had been ruled out, and many of the less likely ones as well. The thought was that he maybe had some occult abscess that was occasionally releasing the source of his (presumed) infection. So the job was to get four bottles of blood from multiple sites (one bottle could be contaminated during the blood draw, hence multiples) of blood from the patient in hopes of capturing the organism whenever he spiked a high fever. (I know you know this FHubert– this is general background for the nonmedical reader.)

      Sure enough around 2 AM I was paged; patient was febrile to 103 deg F. I go to his room, it’s an old, thin white man, looking unwell. I introduced myself and explained what I was there to do. In a feeble and exhausted voice he said, “Yes, doc. I understand. […] You know, this has been going on for weeks and I’m just so tired of it.” It didn’t help that the poor man was a vasculopath (long term smoker with terrible arteries and veins, and was a difficult blood draw). I got two bottles in short order, then couldn’t get the other two bottles filled. I stuck that poor man all over for at least 30 minutes. Feet were forbidden because he was also a severe diabetic (poor distal healing). While I was torturing this poor patient I asked him about his hobbies, that sort of thing. Turned out he had been an avid fisherman back in the day, and his passion was “walleye pike, you know what those are, son?” (S. vitreus). I’m not much of a fisherman, but knew enough to ask not totally stupid questions and so kept the conversation flowing. Over the next half hour I learned about the merits of various lures, tricks and stratagems, and how to best cook walleye. The patient waxed in enthusiasm and his voice grew stronger and more animated. Finally I got a third bottle and decided to call it quits. As I was walking out the door the patient said commandingly, “Wait a minute, young man. I have something to say to you before you go.” I was expecting him to chew me out for torturing him and braced myself before turning around. To my surprise, he said, “I wanted to thank you. That was the nicest visit and conversation I’ve had for months. Good night, son.”

      I was wordless but thanked him for his cooperation and patience. As soon I as turned the corner I stood against the wall clutching my three bottles of blood in culture media and just hyperventilated for a couple of minutes. What an existence, that a stranger sticking needles into you after midnight for 30 minutes was “a nice visit.” Even if that was not the case, the courtesy and grace to say so.

  2. That is a beautiful area you live in. Apache lands? The once lovely, quiet agrarian country side I moved to years ago is now filled with noisy, thoughtless , inconsiderate jerks. It boggles my mind how this area has changed in so little time.
    Great story. Sort of goes back to my prior sentence.

      • The Battle of Big Dry Wash (you can Wikipedia it) took place near where I live between the Apache and the US Army/Cavalry. The Indians broke from the reservation and they found themselves pursued by a force they outnumbered. They prepared an ambush not knowing that a LOT more soldiers arrived in the evening. As I understand it, that was the last battle between the Army and the Apache.

        So to put a finer point on it, yes, this was Apache summer range at one point but there were never so many Apaches here that there was a population density to the place. In the winter when the snow came, they moved to lower elevations (snow birds of their day).

  3. A nice story. It’s making it’s way through the internet, again. Read that one in many places a few years ago. It is certainly a pre-uber tale.

  4. I saved your opening photo to my PC wallpaper file.

    Nice to see that story going around again. One of the things I tried to impress on our kids growing up, is that the smallest thing you might do, or not do, will likely affect someone, somewhere, sometime. So far, so good. Our daughter sent video yesterday of our seven month old grandson starting to crawl. He made a bee line for the dog food bowl. The look on their Corgi’s face was priceless.

    • The story had been new to me, but it had the general look of something that made its rounds before. Maybe worth remembering.

      Funny about the Corgi realizing that the young master could behave in ways he didn’t think likely.

  5. Fifteen years on the UWS near the Museum of Natural History, now missing Teddy Roosevelt at the front door. The last time (and it really might be the LAST time) I was there was Christmas Eve 2019 and I came into town to meet a friend for dinner before a connecting flight to Georgia (no, not the grits version). I came up from Penn Sta. and barely recognized the place. There were drug deals taking place in the doorways of buildings in open sight. They’ve pretty much gotten what they deserve.

    And, isn’t AZ beautiful?

    • Arizona is magnificent.

      NYC – was once a remarkable place. Today it’s too run down to make a dystopian Blade Runner movie without sprucing the place up.

      • Or a remake of “Escape from New York.”

        Of course, Snake Pliskin would be a one-eyed trans black womyn escaping the evil conservatives and Christians that have ruined a once-diverse city…

  6. LL, very poignant story. Even the smallest of actions people take matter.

    You live in a beautiful area. Must make getting up every morning pretty darn special.

    • Every morning and every day, Ed. I never take it for granted and never get used to it. I speak to friends all over the world. I have friends who tell me of the postmodern difficulties where they live. I live in a place with no police, but lots of elk. And the sun comes up like thunder through the pines every day.

  7. NYC
    My only experiences there was as a young soldier in the early 60’s. I was two weeks at Ft Hamilton waiting to be discharged and pulled 24 hr CQ every third day. The rest of the time I was free. What a good time!

    1963 shipping out on the cruise ship General Maurice Rose, we passed under the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge under construction while having a life boat clusterf**k, er, drill. In 1966 rode across the bridge to Ft. Wadsworth to be discharged.

    Today I will never voluntarily go near the place.

    • I liked the Guilanni NYC. The place had come back from the brink. The Bloomberg NYC was not too bad. Today it’s not someplace that I would go.

  8. We need to be ready when the wolves come. (“The Grey”?)

    We are seeing the ever-widening chasm between Light and Dark in real time, with flagrant evil-doing by Satan’s minions running open-loop without a care. Yet, although we are ambassadors for Christ, ours is to not directly engage these people or focus too much on their misdeeds (guilty). Instead, we are to assist those in need as led. A lovely story of situational awareness coupled to the Golden Rule. Needed that reminder today.

    I like to think when people drive on by our locale they believe no one lives here, or can’t, or wouldn’t want to. Works for us.

    • Works for me too. You are driving through the forest on a narrow road. An unmarked road cuts off through the pines. Then you come to a locked gate in a quarter-mile. If you go another quarter-mile you come to the White Wolf Mine.

      Friends who also live in the area (retired F-15 Eagle driver & wife) invited me over to dinner last night. Busybodies came up in the discussion after we ate. I told of a warning shot, placed about 20′ in front of one, walking up the old overgrown, logging road. They turned around.

      Maybe they called the Sheriff, 2.5-hour response, and mentioned it. The Sheriff would have told them, “you were obviously trespassing and they told you so.” It’s still Arizona and said trespasser was near enough to the old Hashknife Pony Express route. There are places in America where that sort of politeness wouldn’t be appreciated.

      I tell people that “it’s Arizona”.

  9. Heartwarming story. I’ve helped “old folks” throughout my life when I could. Simple things, like loading an older woman’s groceries from her cart to her trunk. I was walking into the store, and noticed she seemed to be struggling getting things out of her cart. I rendered assistance, and she told me that ever since she’d broken her arm a few years ago, she just didn’t have the strength. I asked if she was OK when she got them home, and she replied her husband and son were there, and thanked me.

    I’ve never cared for NYC. Been there for work, and the traffic is 10e6 times worse than Chicago. Told my boss getting a rental car was a mistake as there was ZERO parking near the places I had to go. Would have been better to take a cab. I think living all crammed together that tightly is what gives NYC people their edge. Just not good for my soul to be in “Hive Cities”.

    Our in-laws live way up in the canyons here, miles down a dirt/gravel road that’s 1-1/2 lanes wide. Downhill traffic has the right-of-way, and there are turn-outs where possible. Trees on one side of you, and it’s a long way down to the canyon floor on the other. SLW took her little Hyndai Elantra there *ONCE*, and it was white-knuckles all the way there, and back. My Supra couldn’t even make it up there. My Jeep GC did it easily, and the new Chevy does it fine, but it’s definitely 4WD/AWD territory, and you’d damn well better have proper tires in the Winter, if the road is even open.

    And it’s wonderful…..

  10. I am very concerned and helpful to all the old people I see when I’m out. Helping them get something from up high, tracking down a worker-bee. Listening to them and talking to them.

    It’s how I was raised. Manners. Courtesy. Just being nice.

    It’s how I wanted people to treat my grandma. It’s how I want people to treat my mother.

    We need a return to manner and courtesy.

    As to the French tank, played it in “World of Warfare” and was not impressed. Of course, I played free and spent no cash and had no real care about becoming a pro-gamer, so the way I played pissed a lot of people off. It was a phase, I’m over it. An okay tank for the mid ’40s, not so for the late ’40s. French pride yada yada. Should have just stayed with captured German equipment or what US stuff they wrangled out of Lend-Lease.

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