Everybody needs a guru. Someone you can go to whenever you find yourself stuck on the horns of a moral dilemma. Some climb the mountain tops of Nepal to sit before an old guy wrapped in a bed sheet and listen to him prattle about inner beauty.
I am very fortunate. My guru doesn't live on a mountain. Skeeter Skates is owner of Skeeter Skates Tree Stump Removal and Plow Repair in Greater Metropolitan Pooler, which to my knowledge, has no mountains, just a couple of piles of wood shavings from the local sawmill. Skeeter isn't much on inner beauty but he has a lot of common sense. That is why I seek him out when I am confused.
"Make it quick, Hoss." Skeeter said with a touch of irritation in his voice, "I've got my hands full trying to grease up a Baumalight ST324 Tree Spade with non-slip step pad. You ever handled one of these things?" I admitted I had not. "I didn't think so," he said, "I've got rusted chain saws sharper than you. Besides, you never call unless you want something." Skeeter Skates gets right to the point.
I told Skeeter I needed some perspective. I said the American Civil Liberties Union and some sourpuss woman on MSNBC and even Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul were in a tizzy because a known terrorist who helped plan the Fort Hood massacre and a couple of aborted attempts to blow up airplanes and buildings in the U.S. had been killed by a drone in Yemen. They say Anwar al-Awaki was an American citizen who was killed without due process of law guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
"Wait a honkin' minute," Skeeter said as he turned off the engine of the Baumalight ST 324 Tree Spade with non-slip step pad. "Are you saying this bunch is upset because we took out a guy that made his life's work killing Americans and they think he was supposed to get ‘due process'?" I told him that seemed to be the case. "Well, what kind of due process did he have in mind for all those innocent people that got killed because of him?" I said it was my opinion that due process was not a part of Mr. al-Awlaki's decision-making. He just hated Americans and wanted as many die as possible.
"Son, let me get to the bottom line here," Skeeter said, "because I don't have a lot of time. I've got a Quick Stump-Away stump grinder attachment with pistol grip control harness and factory-installed Parker flat-faced coupler sitting over in the corner and it ain't gonna fix itself." I have no idea what he is talking about. I just know Skeeter is awfully proud of his work and considers himself the Donald Trump of the tree stump removal and plow repair industry.
"We weren't doing a thing in the world wrong when that sorry bunch of scumbags attacked us on 9/11. As a matter of fact, I was digging out stumps over in Liberty County that morning, minding my own business," he said, "but they sure as the dickens have me riled up since then and most other Americans, too. There is still a bunch of ‘em over there hiding in caves that want to hurt us. And we think that traitor deserved due process? Hell's bells, boy! He is the enemy. Him and his crowd want to kill us all. The more of them we can send to wherever it is they think they are gonna go when they take their final dirt nap and the quicker we can do it, the better."
I could tell Skeeter was ready to wind up our conversation. "Tell your readers," he said, "that I wouldn't waste a warm beer on the ACLU if they were on fire. I wouldn't watch that stuck-up woman on television brush her teeth and I wouldn't help Ron Paul if he was running for a bus, let alone president of the United States. And you ought to quit giving them free publicity.
You're just wasting your boss's paper and my time. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go do some honest work. That's something you newspaper folks wouldn't recognize if it bit you in the behind." Then he hung up.
I am proud to call Skeeter Skates my guru. He may not wear a bed sheet or talk of inner beauty and he can be cranky, but he makes an awful lot of sense.
Reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, GA 31139.