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 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 they’re all that matter. Epictetus (c.55–c.135 C.E.) said, “We are disturbed not by what happens to us, but by our thoughts about what happens.” He nailed it. So did St. Augustine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William James, Eckhart Tolle, Carl G. Jung, Immanuel Kant, Anais Nin, Frank Lloyd Wright, Viktor Frankl, Abraham-Hicks, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Ernest Holmes, William Shakespeare, 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 is 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 facing the entrance and away from an armed guard at the back of the room. 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.
— 30 —

Posted Wednesday, July 29th, 2009 under fear, perspective, Uncategorized.


  1. Pelphuma says:

    One time I went to a hockey game in San Jose, California and I had soda cans in my bag (this was all pre-terrorist attack on USA) and the security dude who searched my bag said I couldn”t take them in. He pointed to a place where I was supposed to deliver them, an information booth or some such, inside the arena. I said, “Okay, thanks,” as he pointed the way, and then I just kept walking, past the soda-can-drop-off booth. I guess in San Jose some fans throw things, like soda cans, onto the ice, or at other fans of the game of hockey. I just poured the contents of my cans into a paper cup and drank the high fructose corn syrup until my eyes bugged out. Didn”t take long.

  2. Thoughtful piece – it got me to thinking about how cops are not only exposed to the worst people; they also, unfortunately, have to see people at their worst moments. No one ever calls the cops to let them know everything is cool and that the world is a peaceful, kind place.

    It”s tough too once you start looking for the bad in people, because you”re bound to find something somewhere, and then everytime you do it is just another affirmation of what you might already believe.

    I”m glad I”m not a cop. I was a security guard once for a day and I nearly got fired from that gig. I”m not cut out for law enforcement.

  3. Kristen Wilson says:

    An excellent column Anthony… made me think of my son who has been in law enforcement in a war zone and how differently he sees the world and humanity compared to me…

  4. Dwight Hobbes says:

    Well, it certainly is you, alright. Good piece.


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