Saturday, June 27, 2009

Remembering Craig Hasty

This post is about a fellow named Craig Hasty. He and his Father, Del, and his little miniature dachsund, Sammy, lived just down the street from me for many years. I remember the first time I met Craig. He was coming down the sidewalk wearing marine style camouflage complete with boots. I was walking my bassett hound, Cleo. Craig and Cleo immediately fell in love with one another. Craig would always fall all over her, rubbing her ears and proclaiming, " Cleo, just a big, fat, loveable dog." I always referred to Cleo as the Cleopottamus. Craig loved that nickname for Cleo and often referred to her as the Cleopottamus. He was always bringing her bones from steak or rib cookouts and just dropping in to see her.

He became a family friend. After he took up running, he would run ( not jog ) past our house in the early hours of the morning. Sometimes we would hear his boot steps down our sidewalk as he picked up our paper and delivered it to our front door. We were one of several neighbors he performed this special service for. An acquaintance called me one morning to warn me that he saw a strange character in camouflage running around in our front yard early, early in the morning. The purpose of the call was accompanied with " I know you have two pretty daughters and I just thought you should know." I told him that was our neighbor, Craig, and he was a friend to my whole family, including my pretty daughters.

Craig was a little bit different. I never learned the cause of his mental development being slowed. He was stuck somewhere in adolescence though he was a man in his late 30's perhaps 40's. Del was a retired military officer and Craig lived with him. I believe his Mother had passed away some years earlier. Craig could drive and would often see me working in the yard and pull into our driveway just to visit. He always wore his camouflage fatigues and often a little black beret. I do not ever remember him being in a bad mood or saying an unkind thing about anyone, ever. He always addressed me as Mr. Vass although I told him often to call me Lee.

He was simply a sweet person. My wife often shared her baked goodies with Craig and his Father. They had a next door neighbor whom Craig declared a Saint. She often sent them meals and looked after them in many ways.

The news came that Del had cancer. Our immediate thought was what on earth would happen to Craig. Craig cared for his Dad as best he could and the cancer seemed to take a slow circuitous approach. Craig became even more esconced in running and joined Gulf Winds Track club. He poured his heart and soul into that association and ran several events including marathons. He was always proud of his ability to finish events. I was always amazed at his ability to run long distances in impressive times in fatigues and boots. That club became a family to Craig. He spoke to me of specific members and I could tell that he had made many good, solid friends there.

The day came that Del succumbed to the cancer. It was exactly 3 weeks later that Craig went to join him. He died in Taylor County, I believe. He went out for a run on one of the hottest days of the year. He ran and ran and ran without stopping, without hydrating and just keeled over and died. Those of us who knew him realized that he was smart enough to know that he could end his life in such an exercise.

I often think of him and people like him. It is common to wonder why the Great God who controls the universe and is said to know when a sparrow falls, places people like Craig Hasty in our midst. I believe that such people are precious to Him and He envelopes them in a special veil of protection. They are not capable of petty gossip, larcenous tendencies nor egregious behavior. They are placed in our midst for us to reflect upon and ask ourselves is the rat race we run really all that important? Craig's world was pretty small and simple. We would all be a lot better off involving ourselves in small and simple.

These times we live in are taking us back to that juncture. The world has consumed itself into a world wide depression. We will survive it only if we simplify our appetites and look to the Craig Hastys in our midst. I miss my visits with Craig. I know he is in a better place with his Mother and Father together. I also believe that he still has some time to rub on Cleo who left us about 5 years ago. His little Sammy is somewhere close by as well. I am just positive that he is happy and fulfilled. I hope to see him again one day. Hope I am worthy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Predatory Purchasing II

I am re-posting this earlier BLOG. It bears re-visiting.

In the mid-seventies I was in Long Island, New York on business. It was a week long stay. While I was there an Eastern airlines jet went down. The death toll was nearly 100. I clearly recall that the news reports covered the fact that before authorities could secure the crash site, other human beings were approaching the scene and stealing jewelry, wallets, purses and other personal items off the corpses. That has always loomed very large in my mind as to just how low humankind can sink.

It hardly parallels in an analogy but I have been thinking about that experience here lately as I represent people as Sellers and Buyers in our current real estate market. The mindset in a large number of people is that many sellers are under extreme duress in selling thier homes. This market represents an opportunity to try and obtain an extraodinary purchase. In other words many buyers turn into predators trying to benefit at the crash site of the current real estate downturn.

There is little compassion displayed in many of the offers that I have had to handle within the last few months. The prime victim is the person who has not been able to make a payment for awhile on thier homes. They are heading into foreclosure or short sale. The Buyer armed with a sufficient line of credit or cash moves in for the kill. Never mind that the seller is down on thier luck, financially.

The predatory purchaser wants to obtain that property at an extreme discount, hang the circumstances of the poor property owner.Now, I know that we live in a free market economy. I am all in favor of getting a good deal on just about anything I go to purchase. However, I feel that common decency should drive us in the direction of offering a fair price for property. Low ball offers have always been a part of our business however the current market we are in seems to bring out the predator in some of the more unscrupulous. You see their signs on every street corner, " Will pay cash for houses, quickly."

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Volunteer Doltism

I read a great editorial this week in the Democrat by Bob Gabordi. He was opining concerning people who sit next to you at sporting events and scream out criticism and obscenities at players, coaches, officials, cheerleaders, grounds crew, weathermen, the person who sang the National anthem, etc. You know the ones I mean. They look like the polar opposite of an athlete. They are generally morbidly obese and shun personal hygiene. They always seem to find a seat near me at such events.

Mr. Gabordi was saying that such people should have to seek licensure for such a privilege. They should be made to pass an examination that qualifies them to speak out on the nuances of how to pitch to a batter with one base open in a tie game during the third phase of an equatorial equinox. Once they have established thier expertise then we can hang on their every gutterally engineered comment. Until they pass such a test then they must, by law, keep their opinions to themselves.

I responded to him with the following perspective. I believe that such people who peform thusly do society an advanced service. Lump them in with the people who wear offensive tee shirts, place distasteful bumber stickers on their cars, tattoo themselves with antisocietal rhetoric, and pierce themselves in strange places.

If we were to legislate that people with IQ's below 70 must wear some sort of indication of that fact, in a public display, on thier person at all times, the ACLU would have a field day. Yet these people voluntarily display such in their behaviour and their choice of outward appearance. I think we are a very fortunate society that being the case.

An example. Once upon a time my good golf buddy and I were getting ready to tee off at Seminole golf course for a relaxing 4 hour visit mixed with violent thrashing of golf clubs. As is the case, often, the starter sent another twosome to join us. One of these golfers looked like a character from the movie Scarface . Clenched in his goon-like face was a cigar of enormous proportion. On his tee shirt was a declarative addressed to Seminole fans that was offensively distasteful. It had to do with an unnatural act involving those of Seminole allegiance. How fortunate were we that we could read this fellow's shirt and make a snap decision that we were NOT going to spend our next 4 hours with him. I told the starter so. I went on to suggest that it was a poor reflection on the golf course management that such a person, wearing such a tee shirt would even be allowed on the course. The starter nervously arranged another pairing and my friend and I enjoyed a lovely round of golf. Had this fellow not advertised his shallowness of character we would have been stuck in a distateful circumstance.

It is my opinon that we are fortunate to live in a society that allows free expression of character. We can therefore shun the perpetrator and live our lives on a higher plane. We can thusly protect ourselves and our children by placing a respectable distance between ourselves and people of such an ilk.

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