Please Don't Pass It On
Kent M. Herrick
Sometimes gifts are not accepted; even when they are the finest gifts we have to offer.
We were working long hours; in an airplane hanger. It was hot. The concrete was hot. The air was hot; my body was steaming; Hell maybe hotter and for longer but this was close to the same temperature and duration. The 5000 damaged trucks were hot. The computers were hotter. We took to squirting water at each other. We drooped from the heat and some even got sick. But our job was to look at the trucks in 7 days and by damn we were going to finish. And then they said
"Oh no, not seven; no we meant 5 days!" So we worked longer hours and grew more exhausted and free time was at a premium.
We had worked 12 hours in the 100+ heat. We were all whipped. Staggering, we finished the last truck of the day and headed to the hotel to complete 2 more hours of paperwork. The end of our 14 hour day and some of the night. Then the unthinkable occurred. A computer crashed with a co-workers complete workday on it. All hundred trucks; the serial numbers; the damages, were all gone.
Our "wizards of byte" tired at the attempt to repair it. So I tried my hand at it. I called the computer firm. They concluded that the confisculator gear was stripped and that the machine was trash. Ok, I figured that much; so let's save the hard drive or at least the data.
Four hours later with the help of three experts in California we had pulled the information out of her computer and placed it on mine; recovered the data into my hard-drive; converted it to disc and saved the day for her and the rest of us who would have had to search the 5000 trucks for her trashed hundred.
Now this is where strange begins. As you are aware from reading my stuff, I believe in "Just Pass-It-On" just as it was passed to me in January, 1970 by two country Tennesseans. They had given me a gift and a charge. It was a charge that I took seriously; like a Boy Scout's pledge to "Help Other People At All Times" and " Do a Good Deed Daily."
Now these aren't shallow or flaccid requests. The charge requires that you give something, help with sincerity and love, and take nothing in return but a thank you and additionally you also give a second gift, the gift of sincere assistance with a smile, a shake of the head and a simple charge to them to .......
"Just Pass It On"
It's not only a gift, but a willing burden. It is given in many ways and it's not for others to judge how you pass the gift on. The charge is to the giver; to give to the receiver with a cheerful heart and asking nothing in return but that the other accept the gift in gratitude and graciousness. And that a further obligation be given but not always received that requires the receiver to "Just Pass It On."
And this is what happened. The lady's data was saved. It was late and I was four hours behind on a cool shower, clean clothes, real food and the adult beverage of my choice.
" Let's go get cleaned up and I'll buy your dinner." She remarked.
Now she and I both had a supper coming from the company coffers. She was not offering anything that the company wasn't already providing. I had not been paid by the company for the extra time and it was an intrusion on my free time; damn little of it that we got working 14 hours a day. But in a manner of off hand comment I simply said,
"Thanks, but my suppers paid for, so "Just Pass It On". "
" What's to pass on? I'm buying supper."
"But pass what on? Can't I just buy supper?"
"No, but I'd still be tickled to eat supper with you. But the time spent on the computer was a gift; from me, to you. So "Just Pass It On."
"Pass what on?? What's to pass on? I buy you supper and we're even. I mean thanks and here's supper."
I explained that that wasn't possible. I couldn't accept supper. I could enjoy a meal with her; we could talk about kids, football, spouses, but the time was a gift that was freely given and even came with a second gift.
"What second gift!?" Hell the first one wasn't exactly joyously being received.
"The Happiness that comes with .... Just Passing It On. "
"I don't want it.!!!!!' And then it got more than a little strange; "My husband and I are too selfish to help other people we don't know or for that matter anyone at all. We don't help anyone! We are very self-centered. I don't want your gift and I don't want to pass it on to anyone. Period. "
"I'm sorry but the gift can not be retrieved. I can't take it back the time I've given you. You can chose to deny you have it and never pass it on; but that will not change the fact I've given it to you and it must be given away for the rest of your life."
"Don't you understand?! I don't want it! Let me pay, PLEASE! My husband doesn't want it; I know him. We don't want your gift."
"I am not surprised. This gift is not a light or transient burden. It's like carrying a child on your back; like a pregnant mother with twins. It's both a blessing and a curse. You cannot return it. But you can "Just don't pass it on". Keep it inside you. It will stay there until you're ready to ... "Just Pass It On".
We went onto supper; if I remember correctly we went with a few others; probably the Outback Steak House. She was nervous or anxious. She didn't mention the gift anymore. I paid my own bill and we went back to the motel.
The next morning we were ready to return to the heat and hell of the airplane hanger, it was early, not much sleep. But she had had less than I. She looked dragged out. Hell we all looked dragged out. But she looked worse.
"I called my husband." Oh good grief; this must be eating at her.
"He says he doesn't want the gift either. Take it back."
"My goodness, I didn't mean to start a metaphysical war."
"Then you'll take it back?"
"No. That's not possible."
"Where is it written? I give it back, there! Now it's yours again. I don't have it."
Bang you're it!! No I'm not you are. She was obsessing over receiving something she did not even believe existed.
"But I never lost it. I already have it. Ready to give it again when the opportunity appears. You must chose to try and discard it but you can't, can't any more than I can. Just don't use it; don't pass it on; keep it to yourself; and tell no one."
She was upset. But I had no way to assuage her conscience. She had it; the charge, the gift. And as far as I know she has not passed on. Maybe someday; but I sort of doubt it.
Kent M. Herrick
Kent M. Herrick, Editor in Chief, 2008
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