A Blip on the Radar (42B) “The Peacemaker who tried – Part 2 “
Posted on August 6, 2014
A Blip on the Radar (42B)
Part 2: The Peacemaker who tried
Our net boat bumped against the hull of the purse seiner, and a sailor, alerted by the noise of our arrival, poked his head over the side. He recognized me. I had worked a three month vacation spell there, covering for the resident pilot going on vacation.
(see “He not want to eat with crew”)
His face cracked into a grin. “Moggy!” he seemed pleased to see me. I smiled back. Soon I was on the way to the pilot’s cabin, guided by the friendly sailor. I didn’t need his directions, as I knew exactly where the pilot’s cabin was. I had lived there. It was a lonely eyrie in some ways, away up there on its own, just beneath the helideck. I knocked on the door, the friendly sailor still with me, beaming.
The door opened. Don stood there, expressionless. If he was surprised, it was a hidden emotion.
“Peace Offering!”, I announced. Big -huge- smile from me. I proffered the box of chocolates. If you are mid Ocean, heaved to on a quiet evening, how often do you get somebody knocking on your door with a large box of chocolates? Don was unmoved. Ignoring the offering, he just stared at me, with a cold contempt in his eyes. I was meant to be uncomfortable. But I wasn’t. Because part of me had expected it, and another part of me had seen that trick before. The silent stare, delivered with the stinging coldness of an Arctic blast. I had even blogged about that stare. (see The Burning Soldier, Part 1).
So not was I only not taken aback, or intimidated, or shocked, I was kind of saddened, but resilient. Hell, I had tried. No more could be done. Twenty seconds went by. I stood there, motionless, the gift offering extended. He stood there, silent, only those contempt laden eyes burning, or trying to burn, into me.
“Hey-ho!”, I said at last. “I tried.”
I turned around, and saw the friendly sailor’s face. His jaw hung open. His English might have been limited, but the intensity of the emotions had not escaped him. I promptly handed him the box of chocolates. He accepted them in astonishment, but his pleasure was great. For a crew member making $100 a month, this was a treasure indeed. I turned to Don, with a faint smile.
“Okay”, I announced, “while I’m here, I’ll go say hello to my old bird…”
And I strode off purposefully towards the ladder up to the helideck. Amazingly, Don suddenly found his power of speech.
“Oh, no, you don’t! What do you mean, coming here, all over my ship, sightseeing?”
I ignored him. He followed me, steaming alongside, becoming very agitated. Don was the judge who had seriously condemned me for a triple postage stamp sized area of corrosion I had missed. I was just curious how the great Guru’s machine looked, after months on the salty sea. Herding fish. Ducking around waves. He seemed to imply impending physical violence (which I ignored), and then he tried to block access to the ladder. But I was too quick for him.
Up I shot, still smiling.
Well… there is only one word to describe what I saw:
Lots of triple postage sized areas of surface corrosion. Times ten. There was no excuse for it. The position of the ship’s stacks were not conducive to keeping the bird clean. But I had previously waged that war, and done pretty well. Don, obviously, had quit even trying. I walked around and around the helicopter. He followed me, steaming furious. At length, my inspection complete, and my suspicions confirmed (Don had severely lambasted the splinter in MY eye) (But ignored the BEAM in his), I looked at him steadily. He returned my gaze, insanely furious. Several comments knocked at my locked lips. But they were petty. Pay-back.
“Good night, Don”, was all I said. Quietly. With dignity. And then I left.
We motored back to my boat. I had my thoughts to myself.
I was sad, in some ways, that my mission had failed. Content, in other ways, that I had made the effort. I thought that was the end of it all. A closed book. Amen. Finito la Musica.
However… I think in that belief, I was maybe mistaken.
* * * * *
Small wonder then that at times I suppose I’ve tried to play Peacemaker when the odds seemed hopelessly stacked against me. I’ve often appealed to Reason, Compassion, Intellect, History, and gotten absolutely nowhere. Except perhaps to be perceived by some as a Pussy, an obsessive scribbler, to be ignored, mocked, or bulldozered over.
One such occasion sticks out in my tiny mind, not because I was successful or not in my Peace Making attempts, but because… I never could figure out the end result of that particular peace making effort. I’ll tell you the story, and let you decide.
It must have been… a year later. We were onshore. A whole bunch of us Tuna Heads. Partying. Whooping it up. Laughing. Telling stories.
All of a sudden, guess who headed purposefully across the room towards me. Mister Don. A momentary alarm in my mind ceased, when I saw he wore an altogether different expression. Kind of normal. No contempt.
“Moggy! Can I ask you something?”
“Sure!” I tried hard to hide my surprise. Just two old buddies talkin’…
“Does HOW mean GOOD in Chinese?”
“Yes”, I answered.
“And does POOH HOW mean BAD?”
“Yes”, I answered. I warmed to my theme. I loved Chinese. “And sometimes they say “SAYTEE” which means BAD as well. “And there are lots of other useful words to know. Like “strong wind” is PHONG TAY-TAH, and “many fish” is “ENTO NIAOW”, and, and…” But I saw I had lost his interest. The glazed look said it all. He thanked me politely for my Chinese lesson, and ambled off.
And that was it. After a decade on the Tuna Fields, Don had finally learned his first two words of Chinese. I think I had my first fifty by the end of the first week.
To this day, I marvel. Two-fold.
1) How can you isolate yourself for ten years from your fellow shipmates? And not feel the pain? Dude… You can enter any country, face any foreign language, and armed with those two words, GOOD and BAD, mixed with a sense of humor and an array of facial expressions and arm waving, you too can commune with your fellow man. And share. To me, his sojourn in that lonely cabin under the helideck, seems unspeakably tragic.
2) Did my chocolate box offering finally register? Did my peace making mission, after a delay, still yield dividends?
I, the naïve one, not very bright, and simple at heart, would like to believe so…
In the early morning Light
Watch him as he prances
With juvenile delight.
Listen as he scribbles
Endless doggerel verse
Persistently he nibbles
At the Awesome Universe.
Last edited by Francis Meyrick on August 7, 2014, 12:45 am