Saturday, November 08, 2008

Naturally a Putz

Ever made someone mad and really didn't mean to? Yeah, me too. In fact, I think over the past 2 years I've done a lot of that. I used to jokingly ask people "Are you naturally this rude, or do you have to practice?" Yeah, OK, so it wasn't such a great joke. Yet somehow I laughed. Hm. Unfortunately I began to get a clue. Practicing came naturally for me apparently...so that must mean I'm naturally a putz. Need to know more? Check out one of my early postings to this blog on how I got the nickname/stage name "Jay Arthur".

How about an example? Sure, why not... So there was a church I once served at for several years. I served elsewhere for a while, but returned one weekend when asked to play an outdoor concert with other former band members there. Practicing had went well. I was looking forward to the show. I arrive early with a MONSTROUS bass rig, anticipating that PA support would not be of the same ilk. It turns out the PA was fair, but it was lacking subwoofers, so it served me well to have brought two power amps and four cabinets.

Having arrived plenty early I got my giant rig all set up. We did sound check/warm-up. We stood around for a while, had some ice water to cool down (summer early evening show), and chatted. It was great catching up with old friends. Where was the opening band? Well, they hadn't shown yet. Time ticked on. They were an hour late by now. The event would be starting before long. They hadn't loaded in, set up, or done sound check.

Eventually the opening band came strolling in one member at a time. Where was their gear? Well, if they could find someone with correct key they had a bass. Someone else brought a keyboard, but no amp. No big deal. I was friends with the sound guy and knew we could piece things together. It was disorganized, but it would work. I offered my amp stack to the bassist so he wouldn't have to worry about finding an amp. ...No speaking English.... OK, no big deal. Where's the band leader? Ah, there he is. Relay...translate...blah blah blah. All is well. I wonder off to ask the sound engineer if he even wanted a DI from me, or if he just wanted to set my volume on my power amps himself. He chose the latter. Cool with me. I'm very flexible.

Alright, I'm relaxing now. I walk toward some people gathered around at the edge of the audience so I can chat. I noticed something that alarmed me though. As I was passing the stage, I saw the heavy weighted keys keyboard was propped up against two of my stacked cabinets. This is not a good thing. I knew that one of those cabs is missing a foot and is slightly unstable, so I'm always careful not to rest anything against them. It's windy outside. This is just asking for trouble! I stroll back to the stage area and reposition the keyboard. Problem solved right? WRONG!

The band leader comes up, clearly bent out of shape. I explain that I was afraid his keyboard, and perhaps my stack, might fall. He gets more bent out of shape. I apologize if it came off wrong and explain one cab is missing a foot and I had almost knocked over the stack earlier myself. It wasn't sitting on level footing anyway. That still didn't satisfy him. He says, "It's OK James. I understand you don't want me to touch your stuff." Of course I respond, "No, no, no! That's not it at all. I'm not concerned about that. Otherwise I wouldn't have offered my bass rig to your bassist." I think that must have went in one ear and out the other. I thought this fellow minister/musician and I knew each other's character fairly well. I like to be a helping hand, and I always want to be truthful to people. That's one thing you can depend upon with me.

This just wasn't going to do. I had to fix things. My friend had walked away, so I approached him again and said "--name--, you know me. I'm sorry. I'm glad to help out. I would never be like that to you." He is still upset. I was becoming a bit disappointed by now. After a pause I said, "You don't believe me, do you?" He replied, "No, I do not." I said, "Wow, that rather offends me." He said, "James, it offends me too." and walks away. That was the last he spoke with me...

This man was someone I considered a friend. I've always believed that friendships are worth fighting for. I've never ended a friendship over something so petty. Unfortunately this is one of several friendships that have ended in similar manner over the past 2 or 3 years. Worse yet, this was the 2nd one that night. The show went great, but generally my night sucked. I had left some equipment stored at the church for the preceding several years, along with a few other odds and ends. That evening was the end of my relationship with that church. My friendship ended with 2 of the head ministers there. I turned in my keys, leaving behind anything of mine that was not on stage. It was a sad ending that I could do nothing more about.

So, here it is. I suppose I am naturally a putz. I suppose its for people like that in specific that Jesus commanded us to forgive each other. He knows that without forgiveness, people like me can have a relationship with no one. So just remember, next time someone really ticks you off, perhaps they did not mean to do so. Perhaps it comes naturally for them, though they value your friendship and would never want to harm it. For the several people I have offended who no longer speak to me, I have apologized several times and I meant it. I've honestly tried not to offend them, and acknowledged when I have done so anyway. Alas, I do not know what else I can do. What else can I say? Give a putz a chance.
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