Live and let live

May, 2018

I have a theory that when you increase the number of people in an area past a certain point, behavior turns nasty. And the more people there are the nastier it gets. Whenever my wife and I drove to Long Island, which is very crowded these days, to visit Kathy’s parents, I could see the change come over Kathy if she were driving and feel the change come over me if I were driving. Kathy would shout at other drivers, cut in front of them, get really aggressive. I wouldn’t be so vocal, but I got very tense, and would soon be thinking that it might be good to shoot some of them so the rest of us could get moving (I’m not proud of that :-)).

Toss drugs into a crowded population and you get a lot more bad behavior. It’s easier to have a “live and let live” attitude when the other person’s living doesn’t impact yours.

My favorite Maine “live and let live” story: When I was in Basic Training in the Army (Fort Dix), we had “fire watch” duty every night. We would work one-hour shifts just sitting there to make sure the barracks (which were built as temporary, ten-year buildings in WWII) didn’t catch fire since they would burn down in minutes and there was no alarm system.

One night, the last guy on fire watch was a really smart kid from Maine, Dave Beckman, as I recall. We had lots of Maine kids in Basic since they had trouble getting good jobs at home.

At 5:30 AM, Beckman shook my shoulder and said in his Maine accent “Time to get up.”

He shook the guy in the bunk above mine and said the same thing. Then he walked around the bunk and shook the guy in the top bunk again.

That guy, Byrnes I think his name was, from upstate NY, was tough to wake; so I didn’t think much of it, but when Byrnes got up, he went back to the bunk and shook someone else saying “GET UP.”

Next thing I know, a guy named Cusimano climbs out of the bunk, and I say “What the fuck are you doing in bed with Byrnes?” The bunks are barely three feet wide.

Cusimano says “Shut the fuck up Esposito.” Then he looks and realizes I am not Esposito….and he’s on the wrong floor. So he trots off upstairs where his own bunk is located.

I find this upsetting. Two guys in the bunk above mine? What the hell were they doing? Trying to get discharged (Remember this was 1965. Homosexuals were discharged.)?

I tried to talk to people about it, but I don’t think they believed me. Exasperated, I said to Beckman, “Beckman, didn’t you think it was a little strange to have two guys in one bunk?

“Yup. Did figure t’was a little strange, but t’weren’t none of my business.”

Later, I talked to someone on fire watch from 1 to 2 upstairs. He said Cusimano had been drunk and got up around 1:30 to come downstairs to pee and never came back. God forbid he should have checked on his buddy to make sure he wasn’t passed out on the concrete bathroom floor. The guy on downstairs fire watch knew nothing. He must have been asleep.

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