Monthly Archives: August 2010

A True Hero and a Real Man

Keith McVey lives in Akron, Ohio.  He’s 53 years old and is a mailman.  Everyone in Akron knows him.  Recently, he saved the life of another person for the third time in his life. 

While delivering the mail, he noticed a panicked man trying to revive his unconscious friend at the back of a pickup.  “He said his buddy wasn’t breathing,” explained McVey.  “I thought, well, let’s see what’s going on.  Sometimes you just have to act.”

While trained in CPR,  McVey had never actually performed it before.  He began chest compressions for several minutes, waiting for both a pulse and the paramedics.  The unconscious man regained a pulse, the paramedics arrived, and what did McVey do?  Not go home; not go to the local TV station to become a star; not hang around for applause.

No….he picked up his mailbag and continued his deliveries. 

Why?

“…if I don’t finish up, they’d have to take all my mail back,” he explained.  “I didn’t want anybody to have to pick up my slack.”

I am not minimizing the CPR part at all – that was truly lifesaving.  I am maximizing the humble sense of responsibility that never left his mind.  He was going to finish his route, because it was his job and he didn’t want to burden or inconvenience someone else.  That is the truly heroic part for me.  No arrogance, no sense of entitlement, no grabbing at any opportunity to get out of work.

That’s a true hero….and a REAL man.

My Apology

Listen to “My Apology” here

These are my opening comments from my radio program today:

I talk every day about doing the right thing.  And yesterday, I did the wrong thing. 

I didn’t intend to hurt people, but I did.  And that makes it the wrong thing to have done.

I was attempting to make a philosophical point, and I articulated the “n” word all the way out – more than one time.  And that was wrong.  I’ll say it again – that was wrong.

I ended up, I’m sure, with many of you losing the point I was trying to make, because you were shocked by the fact that I said the word.  I, myself, realized I had made a horrible mistake, and was so upset I could not finish the show.  I pulled myself off the air at the end of the hour.  I had to finish the hour, because 20 minutes of dead air doesn’t work.  I am very sorry.  And it just won’t happen again.

I received some letters, and what touched me is that, even though many of you were upset, you still showed friendship for all the years we’ve been together on the air, and for that, trust me, I am very grateful.  Here’s an example:

I’d like to thank this woman for sending me this letter.  I was so very touched, and truthfully, it helped me make it through the night.  So I’m going to read this letter:

Dear Dr. Laura:

I have been a listener for at least 20 years.  I have bought and read several of your books.  I have always held you in high regard, and have encouraged others to listen to you as well.  I have to say, after today’s call with the African-American woman with the Caucasian husband who called seeking how to handle “racist” comments, I am a bit dismayed.  I believe that African-Americans using the n-word is disdainful, as well as Caucasians or any other race for that matter.  I agree that the argument some African-Americans use that it is ok for them to use it and not others, is ridiculous.  But, I have to say, when I heard you saying the word repeatedly, it struck a negative chord with me.

I don’t believe you are a racist, and I don’t believe, as an African-American woman, that I am hypersensitive.  I have to say after the call, I found it difficult to continue to listen to the rest of the show.  I have not made the decision to stop listening to your show, but I felt compelled to respond because I found it offensive.

Sincerely {and she gives her name}

One last note -
The caller in question (her name is Jade), called for help from me, and didn’t get it, because we got embroiled in the “n” word, and I’m really sorry about that, because I’m here for only one reason and that’s to be helpful, so I hope Jade or somebody who knows her is listening, and hope she will call me back and I will try my best to be helpful, which is what she wanted from me in the first place and what she did not get.

I Apologize

I always tell my listeners when they mess up, they need to follow the four R’s:  take responsibility, have true remorse, try to repair it, and don’t repeat it.  Yesterday, I messed up.  I used the “n” word on-air, and I regretted it as soon as the call was over.  While it was in the context of making a point about the unfortunate use of that term by others who deem it acceptable or funny, it is a word that is hateful, hurtful and I should not have used it even to prove a point.  After the call, I was terribly upset about it and after that hour of the program concluded, pulled myself off the air for the rest of the show.  Today, at the top of my program, I will apologize to my listeners.

Sometimes Kids Are Just Bad Seeds

There seems to be a general unwillingness to point out that some people are just evil.  I was frustrated when psychiatrist Keith Ablow wrote an essay on foxnews.com espousing the “understanding” of women and men who prey sexually on children.  He “formatted” them all as mentally ill.

I was not frustrated when, years ago, another psychiatrist, answering a question about how the Hillside Strangler could capture, torture, and kill people, answered truthfully that “some people are evil.”

Dr. Ablow is dead wrong.  Although mental health professionals are trained to see everything through the pink glasses of “kids are bad because their parents are bad,” it just ain’t true.  If you are one of those parents with a belligerent, nasty, uncooperative, petty criminal, drugged-out bummy kid (when your other kids are just fine citizens), you should not blame yourself.

We’re all impressed when a kid from a really bad home ends up living a quality life – kind, hard-working, and loving.  How come we don’t recognize the opposite:  a really great home can produce a bad kid?

There’s no question that parental problems and environment do, of course, impact children, but everyday character traits also have hard-wired genetic components that cannot be remedied by loving parents and a lovely, serene home in the suburbs.

In other words, there are bad seeds.  Parents frustrated with those children may possibly aggravate the situation, but they didn’t create it.

So many people call me who are sad about their recalcitrant adult children.  In some cases, you parents have earned that, but sometimes, you just need to shut the door on what is an impossible mission.

Camaraderie

A few weeks ago, I participated in a 45 mile ocean race with 6 other crew members and a 33-foot boat.  There were 10 other competitors in our class.  One of them – a very fast boat-had a handicap rating, which meant we had to beat them by 20 minutes (in a 61/2 hour race).

We did our best and did a good job with tactics and sail changes.  But our handicap was such that this just wasn’t enough.

A big boat from another class was right behind me, bearing down hard, some 13 miles from the finish line.  My tactician said “Okay, now I’m going to teach you something new.”  He had me maneuver the boat so they’d go under me (meaning I was between the wind and the other boat) so I would not slow down in their wind shadow.  Once they almost passed me, and I turned the boat down to catch their wake.  Evidently, this is the “on the water” version of what bicyclists do when they follow another closely – it actually makes you go faster!  And it worked, because, suddenly, I was going a knot faster.  The waves were big, fast, and furious.  It took a lot of strength on my part to keep my boat directly behind the bigger boat and stay in their wake.  I stayed in his wake for 8 miles and 1 hour.  When the wind died down a bit, his boat took off, and I was back to just being a small boat in the race. 

The guys in front on my boat were getting soaked and when one more huge wave actually broke over the boat, I too was soaked.  One of them leaned back and said sympathetically, “Oh, did you get wet Doc?”  I said “Yes,” as I spit out salt water.  As if orchestrated, they all turned and said simultaneously:  “Awwwwwwwwww.”  It was hilarious, and it felt great.  The team was working together, kidding each other in the heat of battle, and I just loved it!

When we docked, we all got off the boat extremely wet and all body parts hurting.  We all moaned and groaned as I said “Whose stupid idea was this?”  Again, they all turned, laughing, and pointed at me.  We hit the restrooms and cleaned up, and then went out to dinner to celebrate a job well done…done as a team, and done with humor.

We were at the restaurant toasting each other and laughing and throwing food down with passion, when we realized we were happy and didn’t even know if we had won anything in the race or not.  That was the best part – that we didn’t need a “win” to enjoy our camaraderie and our time out on the ocean.

It wasn’t until the next day we discovered we had won the race by (remember, this was a 45 mile race that took 6 1/2 hours)…..TWO SECONDS!  Bless that big boat’s wake!  We were all stunned at the result.  Whew!  But even without the win, we had a great time together facing the elements.

Friendship Should Not Be Unconditional

I don’t subscribe to unconditional relationships, whether they are by blood, geography, gender, race, religion, or friendship.

Recently, I had a situation in my personal life that brought this concept to the fore.  I (and others) had gotten deeply involved with a lovely person who was in a destructive relationship.  When it broke up…again…we were all asked to be supportive, and we were (with phone calls, visits, dinner, etc.).  The relationships all deepened and then this person slipped way backward…again…into a morass of misery.  I communicated I was sad this had happened, and I was willing to resume our friendship after some time had passed, when the drama was no longer part of the equation.

I heard from this person again, and was informed the drama was indeed over…finally (one last burp, I guess).  This individual did communicate to me about being hurt that my friendship seemed conditional, when it was expected I would be there through stupid and smart behavior. 

I responded all relationships should be conditional – not “hair-trigger” conditional, but conditional nonetheless. I don’t want to be Mel Gibson’s friend, for example.  I am certainly willing to be supportive and helpful, but I don’t want to take up time in my life with yo-yo drama.  I consider the other individual has the responsibility to do the work to make themselves healthy and my support is there lovingly when that is, indeed, the case.  Getting one’s life on a healthy track is difficult, and I am certainly there to support my friends during that journey.  I am not there, however, when intentional, self-defeating steps are taken to get back into the problems.

This is the philosophy I espouse on the air.  Otherwise, giving support unconditionally is making oneself a patsy and/or a contributor to the ongoing drama and filling one’s life with unnecessary turmoil.

Relationships require the honor, integrity and effort of both individuals.  That should be the condition.

Mistakes?  Temporary stupidity?  All understandable.

Betrayal of support by giving into weakness?  Not so understandable.

You owe those who support you not to give into temptation or weakness, or you will lose the best of them.