COGITATIONS, CONTEMPLATIONS, AND CONSIDERATIONS BY BOB WOLFF
What’s in a number?
Chiba, Japan

What’s in a number?

I confess, or perhaps profess, dear reader, that I don’t know if there is one of you or ten of you or even one hundred. And truth be told, I don’t really care a whole lot. But allow me to clarify that; a writer writes to share thoughts and ideas and, hopefully, to intrigue or interest readers and I am no different.

And frankly I hope to provide you an enjoyable experience – it is my greatest wish that you walk away happy and content, such as one would do after a full and delicious meal; and hopefully provoke some thought or perhaps a feeling of comfort when you see thoughts or feelings you’ve also felt…..to strike a chord. And thus readers, in some way, indicates how well I am doing with it. But only in one small way. Note that I do not sell advertising space on my blog, and except for the kindness of Feedspot, who monitors my RSS feed for new posts and then includes a link to my post, I do not advertise my site.

I think I have shared the website address of my blog to only two or three people, total. I do not promote it on my Facebook page, and I do not ask people to “spread the word”. In short, I have essentially allowed it to sit out there and if people find, great. Why? Fear of people not liking it would be atop the list I think. Even if my family doesn’t like what I’ve written, they’ll still love me (I would expect!). But friends and work (ex-work) associates may judge more harshly. What I write is extremely personal and I take great risk in putting it out there for all to see (read). Every writer does. Looking at this in a broader sense, so does every artist, sculptor, musician, etc.

Exposing your thoughts and feelings is difficult because it is human nature to think what you think and feel is unique to you and everyone else will think you are weird. And of course, this is not the case; we are all weird – it’s what makes us so wonderful! Certainly not every person will agree and some may even take offense – we are that deep and complex as beings that is inevitable. But some will embrace and empathize those same thoughts and feelings.

But let me be perfectly clear with this thought: it is NOT about wanting to be liked or admired. I learned extremely early during this hike through life, that you will meet people that don’t like you. And that’s OK. Sometimes you have to take the dislike for what it is: their opinion. Whether from their perspective, from the chords and melodies we each send out from our souls, or just because they don’t like the pitch of your voice or look of your face, their opinion is that you are not to be counted among their friends. And that is OK.

A short side story here. In my mid-twenties our company faced a huge union organizing campaign. We had been through a couple of union votes earlier, but they were weak and disorganized efforts. This campaign was different and had a lot of momentum. The company delivered their message and the union delivered theirs and the choice was then left to the workers. I quickly decided that I wanted to stay non-union; I have always been loyal but not blindly. I examined the facts, talked to people who had been union as well as non-union and decided that, given my work ethic and drive, I would be better suited in a performance-based system rather than in an “one for all and all for one” environment. So I sided with the company. However, many did not; times were tough and most folks saw it as a chance for more money and better benefits. The pro-union folks were quite vocal and pushed their message forcefully, while the pro-company folks were more the silent ones.

At one meeting, the company handed out Vote No buttons to anyone who wanted them – bright yellow – you couldn’t miss them. I wore three of them….every day. It was not long before my name started showing up on the walls in the men’s room; malicious notes stuck to my locker or under the wiper on my car. I became rather unpopular with the pro-union folks. But I really didn’t care. Now the next thing I did may have been more testosterone and machismo than I care to admit back then, but I decided to take it a step further.

The union held two big rallies to help drive the campaign and to attract more voters. We were probably three or four thousand employees back then, so there was of people to try to win to your side for both the union and company. I went to one of the rallies….wearing my bright yellow Vote No button. At one point, the stereotypical looking union guy (tough looking, heavy, older, cigar smoking) was on the stage, really winding up the audience with yelling and fist pounding. At one point he began screaming about the “company bun-boys – the ones with the yellow buttons which matched the yellow streak up their backs”. And yes I did – I screamed back at him “Look at me! I have one of those yellow buttons on right now! I came here to hear your side of the argument to help me be sure I have all the facts for the vote, not to be personally attacked.” Believe it or not, he apologized! That impressed me. And yes, I stayed, had some food and beer, and walked back to my car without incident. I did notice a couple of big guys kept turning up everywhere I went, but they never said a word to me or came close to me.

A month or two later, I was at home and heard a knock at the door. When I opened it there was a guy in a suit who I had never seen before, holding a paper bag and a folder. Turned out he was a union rep, part of the organizing campaign. He said he had seen me at the rally and wanted to talk to me, so I allowed him in. Short story, he said they were impressed with my showing up and they wanted me “on their team”. I listened and we talked for at least an hour and when all was said and done, nothing had changed: I didn’t switch sides. But I did find a new friend – we stayed in touch for a number of years after that. And he did tell me that when I showed up at the rally, they had all incorrectly assumed I was there to provoke a fight so the company could use the fact that the union promoted violence against them. So they assigned me “protection”. The two guys I kept noticing all night were actually there to make sure that I didn’t start anything, the no one else tried to start anything, and that nothing happened, which of course, it didn’t.

My point is was everyone wants to be liked; even those who claim to hate people shine a little brighter when they meet someone new and that person likes them. It’s in all of us – we like to be liked. And that basic desire is one that tends to hold people back from publicly showing their thoughts or inner feelings. I didn’t want to see my name scribbled disparagingly on the walls of the bathroom at work, but I was willing to forgo that insult because the real issue – unionization – was more important than was being liked.

And so it is with this blog; any fear I have at being ridiculed or laughed at or being thought less of is diminished by the desire to hopefully, possibly, share a thought that brightens someone’s day. To plant a smile on someone’s face merely by sharing thoughts and feelings is a wonderful feeling, whether to one or one thousand. I’ve seen a lot and I’ve done a lot and I have to figure that at least one thing I write will eventually strike a chord with at least one other human being and might help them. So I write, not to be liked but to share.

As I opened this musing with, I am unsure to how many. My web hosting service does provide traffic counters – a total of how many unique and repeat visits to the site, but given bots and web crawlers and all the other web related nonhuman traffic, I have no idea how real any of those numbers are, so I don’t pay much attention to them. And not knowing is OK with me, because as with all things in the universe, the person that may need a word or two from my pen will eventually find those words when they truly need them. So share the blog with friends if you wish, or don’t; it is not about that. But if you find something I’ve scribbled in these pages that you think will help someone who needs it, please find a way to get it to them; it’s just one more little thing we can do to help foster a caring society.

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