Sam Spradlin and broken glass – Spence Allen

Sam Spradlin was a big man of British lineage, who flew a Hawker Hurricane in the Battle of Britain with a very respectable 14 kills.  Sam followed a nurse from the airfields of WWII to America where they promptly married. He was a pleasant man who loved people. They cared about him because he genuinely wanted to help everyone he came across. That meant he often gave a lot of attention to people who needed help in his auto repair shop. Those who took the most of his time were the auto racers because he was a racer himself. They all knew he had a great sense of humor and looked at the world in an entirely different and humorous view.

Sam shared a building with Chadwick Stang, another Brit, whose expertise was the spinning wonder called the turbocharger. It was an add-on for increased power that had proven itself on several aircraft during the same war were Sam had served. Chadwick however, had served in clean hangers and in places far from battle. The two grandfathers liked each other and at the same time Chadwick was terribly competitive and secretly still a bit awed by Sam the Air Ace – so many years after their war experiences. Often, Sam was the butt of his snide remarks and bad jokes. Chadwick was a bit of a know-it-all and delighted in second guessing Sam. He was happiest when getting the attention of racers who gathered in his office away from Sam. In other words, Chadwick deserved what he had coming.

Chadwick was an engineer and had been an advisor to several aircraft companies on the subject of turbocharger design and manufacture, He sold turbo’s and had several young men either working or hanging out at his shop. They came to learn how to use their turbos and to hear Chadwick brag on the turbo story, his part in it and what racer was using his equipment.  At the time of this story, auto enthusiasts everywhere were discovering that they could add an easy 100 horsepower to their car by adding a turbo. Therefore, turbochargers quickly became the target of thieves hoping to make a fast buck.

One night, two burglars had smashed a window panel at Chadwick’s office and because of a silent alarm, been caught by police while loading turbos into their truck. This was before every policeman had a body camera or it would have shown that for the last two or more minutes of the burglary something funny had happened. The officers arrived quietly. They grabbed the first burglar from behind and noiselessly, pushed him to the ground and handcuffed him. The third officer, who was standing in the dark, went unnoticed by the second burglar, who kept handing boxes of turbos out of the window. The officer took then and waited. The short delay gave the others time to put the first burglar in their patrol car. At a signal the police officers regrouped, grabbed the second man, pulled him through the window and arrested him. Quite the odd little comedy of the absurd! That instance set up the comeuppance of Chadwick Stang.

Chadwick, decided he did not want to call the landlord to replace the window and ordered a piece of glass to do it himself.  He took a long lunch with Sam, dropped by the glazier and picked up his glass. When they got back to the shop, several of the regular hanger’s-on had gathered in Chadwick’s office. He unwrapped the brown paper wrapped glass and discovered it was about on inch too long to fit the opening. There was a round of teasing and harassment from the audience of auto racers aimed at Chadwick for mis-measuring the hole. This put him in his worst state of mind; out of favor with the racers in front of Sam. Chadwick was befuddled, angry at the teasing and very uncomfortable that Sam was watching. He knew Sam would bring this up several times, not just a few days, but years into his future.

Resolved to correct his mistake, he dug in a toolbox, found a forlorn looking glass cutter in the back of a drawer and proceeded to score the glass with a straight edge to shorten it. The technique was to score the glass completely across then turning the tool around tap it with the weighted ball on the handle. The shorter piece was supposed to crack off along the scribed line. A person experienced in this art could cut several pieces of glass in a few minutes without problem. Chadwick, however, was not experienced and failed to properly score the glass. When he tapped the crack, rather than follow the scoring like it was supposed to, the break ran off at a 30-degree angle. The only thing left to do was buy another. Sam took the tool and hammered the piece of glass into several bits.

“Why did you do that,” Chadwick whined”

Sam grinned, “To keep you from taping it together and putting it in the window.” The other men in the room knew Chadwick well and knew his tendency to “cheap-out” when that sort of thing happened. Chadwick was steaming as Sam grabbed the closest receptacle and swept the glass fragments into it. “That’s my manufacturer’s award trophy from Garretson you idiot.” Chadwick was livid. The racers howled at his discomfort.

Sam measured the window and sent his parts runner back to the glazier for a new piece of glass. As the runner left, Sam saw a uniformed service tech enter the shop across the street. The seed of an idea took root and blossomed. He moved away from the other racers. Sam watched for the man to come back out and as he waited, intercepted the runner with the new piece of wrapped glass. Sam took it, walked across the street and caught the service tech just as he came out of the building. The man was someone who he a spoken to on several occasions at a local restaurant and wore a generic uniform with a name patch on the left pocket side of his shirt. He had exactly the right look for Sam’s plan.  In a moment, Sam had the man enlisted in his scheme. Sam went back across the street and waited in the office until the service tech walked through Chadwick’s door. When he did, he was holding the new piece of brown paper wrapped glass.

“Hi,” said the service tech, “Sally sold you the wrong piece of glass this morning, she wanted me to swap with you. This one is yours, if I could get the other. Looks like you haven’t put it in yet.” The man motioned to the empty window pane in the office.

“I don’t have any glass” Chadwick said, getting up and leaving the office. On his way out the door he said, “Don’t know what you are talking about.”

With that Sam knew what to do. He spoke quietly to the service tech who went outside and pretended to make a call on what was then a modern mobile phone; the Motorola Dyna-Tac also called a brick phone. The peanut gallery of racers watched and wondered what would happen next. Just about the time Chadwick came back, the service tech came back too at Sam’s direction. A couple of the men noticed and exchanged whispers, waiting to see what happened.

“Sir, I called Sally, she said if you would just check your glass, you will find it’s too big.”

“I don’t have any glass,” Chadwick sputtered. “Just leave I can’t help you.” Chadwick’s voice had risen several decibels. That and his general discomfort made him look a bit like Barney Fife trying to explain himself to Sheriff Taylor.

“Oh, Chadwick give him the glass, maybe he can do something with it.” At the same time, Sam handed the tech the trophy where he had swept the glass shards. The room erupted with laughter. The tech took the trophy and left.

“Come back here with my trophy.” Chadwick howled.

By then several of the men in the room had figured out it was all Sam’s doing. Sam went out and got in the service truck with the tech and took him to lunch, spurring another round of laughter. The joke was all anyone talked about for a week.

It’s never good to make fun of a person who you think is a push-over; the kind of person who is helpful and kind. Creation has it’s own way of spinning the globe into position for them to point out your foolishness. Kindness and honest effort on the part of other people is not weakness, it’s maturity. The kind, honest and meek in appearance will not engage you in endless debate. But in the end, they will put an end to foolishness and bad behavior. This is a lesson that children and those adults who act like them must often learn the hard way. Spence Allen

Puppy Socialism

We can do something cool with this neat thing I found, doncha, think?

If you have a heart and maybe a puppy, you know what you must do when the well-intentioned little knot head comes, muddy footed through the doggy door again dragging something dead and nasty. Do you get rid of the dog, call it names, kick it? Well, I said “if you had a heart”, so no. Do you let him keep the smelly dead thing? No, unless you have a thing for stench. In most instances, we just love on the puppy, give it a breath chew and make a bit of fuss, to let them know you are displeased. They now know that all their ideas aren’t great ones. You wonder if the puppy thinks, “Gosh, we should do something with this great thing I found, don’t you think?”

That describes about half the population in America, who think they have an entirely new thought. It just popped right into their head. Maybe it will solve some conundrum that all the experts say can’t be fixed. It usually pops into their head after some character in a movie, or another puppy-minded individual, trying to be the smarter person in the room, mentions it. It’s why the irons in hotel rooms have a tag, “Do not use this device while still wearing the garment.” Oh, and a huge series of internet “fails.” Then their is the vacuous idea of socialism as a form of government. 

During the early 19th Century we had this new electricity stuff and we attached it to everything from plants to our fiddle-de-bits expecting it to be a panacea. Today it’s artificial intelligence and of course, the “new” idea of socialism.

Let’s first examine the thought that socialism is a new idea. Flatly, it isn’t. This type of idealistic take on government goes back to the Socrates and Plato. The latter came up with the idea that “really smart” people should run society and not so smart people should help them live their lives, spend heir money and provide situational ethics to daily routine.  It has been attempted with disasterous result. At least five times in the 20th century alone,  socialism failed on a grand scale resulting in a world war, intentional starvation, unintentional starvation, a slaughter of educated people, massive waste of resources and disillusionment of entire nations – and over 100 Million dead. We know why that happened, it’s no secret.  Socialism does not work because it’s the grand idea from the point of view of the guys who expect to be running things. And when they run things, they invariably resort to violence to enforce their will.

Then there is the issue of human nature. The great planners in the elite think all people “ought” to do everything the right way. When they try to design the right way for us they come up with something that is the very best, bestest way. Humans do not behave that way, even the Biblical Jesus  if you look at it objectively, couldn’t get that kind of response. He offered eternal life, the conquering of death to an audience aching for relief from poverty, judgement, corrupt politicians created by elitists. Even that beleagered group would not sign up 100%. He knew it too, telling his followers there would always be a remnant.

  It’s also called Utopian, which is an impossiblity in governmental affairs because of the same problem with human nature.  That is the difficulty with socialism and social programs, they are reaching for 100% effectiveness and participation  by everyone.  Idealism is tried on everything too, creating utopian programs with bookish names that mean nothing. They create, one social program after another, which falls short. And then there is the fact today that much of what is broken got that way from social programs.

America works best like aircraft engines, at ¾ throttle, producing best power at lowest fuel consumption. Not all airplanes fly as high, don’t carry as much and little ones are not as safe as big ones. Individually though, they work best when they operate at less than wide open throttle.

 Every year, those who rediscover socialism in college think, “Gosh, we ought to do something with this thing I found, don’t you think?” Trying socialism again is the rough equivalent of an intense examination of a puppy’s stool, hoping to find a clean end. Maybe use it as a Crayola. All it has ever done is create the same kind of smelly mess – and literally thousands and millions of dead people. One of the greater populist leaders said of socialism, “But the death of one person is a local tragedy, whereas the death of thousands is merely a statistic.”  Now that’s cold. It does not work, and the reasons why are easy to find, and yet they want to try it again.

Why is it then that people do the exact same thing as the puppy and yet we make excuses for them. The dog does not know better, but even a high school educated friend should know not to bring figuratively smelly things around. But they do, and you and I let them get away with it. What we should do is rub their noses in it and swat them with a newspaper. The rank and file American, just a small percentage of them, could stand up and give our representatives the notion they will not get reelected unless they do things the was we want – plans that work well when we and they work well. 

Spencer A. Allen