Don’t Bite

Growing up I remember hearing the phrase, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” Makes sense – right? Why in the world would we want to antagonize the benefactor of the good things that come to us in life.

Allow me to pause right here for a minute of clarification. I had amazing parents. My mother had the tenderest and purest heart of any woman I have ever known. Despite that fact, there were times I deeply disappointed her and exercised some pretty thankless behavior – especially when I was young. My father was typically old school. He was a lot like Archie Bunker without the comedic side to him. Still, he was a fine man, a good provider, and certainly taught me and my siblings that every action in life has a corresponding consequence. Most of those lessons came at the end of a thin black belt.

I now have the privilege of working with the greatest team of co-workers anyone could imagine. They are the dream team of marriage ministry and the founder and board chair insist that we “practice what we teach,” even in the corporate workplace. I would never speak ill of them, or publicly embarrass them. Not simply because they pay my salary, but because they are good people who provide me an opportunity to make a living while serving the public good.

How is this relevant to the phrase above, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you?” Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see some member of our society who, rather than being grateful, behave in a hateful,  entitled manner. Several months ago I bought a family lunch. They were transients and I had my suspicions about their work ethic, but they had a son about 8 and he looked genuinely hungry. I walked to Wendy’s counter and offered to buy each a basic combination meal. That is when the boy began to insist on on several items that would have more than doubled the cost of his lunch. He didn’t ask – he demanded! I told him nicely to select from one of several items that included a sandwich, fries and drink. That is when he began to act out while mom sat by and watched. I waited for her to “step up” but she didn’t seem to think his request was inappropriate at all. I bought them all burgers, fries, and cokes and offered her some advice to go along with lunch.

My patience has run out!!!   I turn 60 early next year and I am done with people who think I owe them something just because they are still breathing. I can’t think of a kinder way to say this, but if you want something – get off your rear end and earn it. The job market is booming, opportunity is everywhere, get up and make something of yourself.

There is another old saying that is relevant here as well. “Once burned – twice shy!” I realize I have a pretty skewed view of my own life, but I like to think I am a pretty compassionate person. I give liberally to the church, to charities, and yes, even the panhandlers on the side of the road sometimes, but I have been bitten more times than I care to remember and I have the scars to prove it.

Let me close with a couple stories that might illustrate where I am – maybe you can relate.

  1. When I was a boy, I was viciously bitten in the shoulder by a neighborhood dog. For fear of upsetting PETA I won’t go into detail except to say that my father had a very direct way of addressing problems or threats to his children. After that day, that dog never bit anyone again.
  2. Last night I attended a concert in Jacksonville. There was a clear no smoking policy (this included Vapes). A few people around us, after being asked nicely, continued to blow smoke in my direction, and one man was pretty rude to a woman nearby. There was a day and time when I might have capitulated to the environment, but they caught me on a bad day. After a couple warnings the rude young man blew his smoke up in a pretty defiant manner. That is when I leaned over his shoulder and informed him, “I see that gadget again and I will personally remove you from this concert,” and I meant it. His eyes turned forwarded (and away from me). He gave me a thumbs up and stuffed his Vape deep in his pocket not to be seen again which made Lynyrd Skynyrd’s rendition of Simple Man all the more pleasing and relevant.

What is the point of all this rambling? I am always going to try to give you the benefit of the doubt. My first conversation, request, or act of generosity and largess will come with the best manners my godly mother could teach. Disregard my request, snap at me for offering my hand, or bite the hand that is about to feed you and all bets are off. For anyone who knows me well – I can go from the best of men to the worst in light speed time if you cross me.

What does this means to the rest of my generation and our society?  We need to stop putting up with the idiotic behavior of fools. That doesn’t mean we have to be impolite, or hateful, or ugly. Give people a chance to do the right thing, but if they don’t make sure they know that they just made the wrong choice. We need to create a society where there are once again consequences for bad behavior.

I recall a scene from the movie Big Jake when one of his sons is being disrespectful. “Well son, since you haven’t learned to respect your elders, it’s time you learn to respect your betters.”

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