The location of the Maine bed and breakfast we’d booked for Friday night stumped the GPS. The voice kept saying “Stop and walk from here,” but we couldn’t just stop – we were driving 55 mph in traffic in the rain, and there was no place to pull over – and we had not a clue where “there” was.
After being lost for half-an-hour in who-knew-where, Kay called the owner . . . who turned out to be at a wedding 2,000 miles away in Colorado. Her husband (we’ll call him “Bob”) would be expecting us, she said, but she could reach him. “He might be down with the chickens.”
Bob was nowhere in sight. Still uncertain we were “there”, we let ourselves in through the big green door. Kay called Colorado again to confirm we were at the right house – the one with a green door. Yup! We were “there” but there was no Bob. A pair of men’s slippers at the foot of the staircase told us he couldn’t be far.
Twenty minutes later Bob, in his early 30s, appeared from the basement. His long flowing hair and “Oh, Wow!” come whatever may persona flashed our memories back to Woodstock and Haight-Ashbury in the ’60s. We were staying in the palatial home of a 30 year-old hippie. Some things don’t compute easily.
The chicken-tender turned out to be a great host, and the land and house far exceeded our expectations – 16 pristine acres of meadow and woods, and an 8,200 square feet mid-century modern house with indoor swimming pool, hot tub, Wifi, old phonograph, and an enormous suite with a to-die-for kind bed and a huge beautifully tiled bathroom.
The next morning over coffee, Bob and I had an hour alone where he began to unfold his story which, at the beginning, bore little likeness with the anti-war counter-culture I’d known in the 1960s. Bob had served in the U.S. Air Force!
After a year-long immersion in Pashtun in Monterey, CA, he had served as an Air Force translator based in Qatar, flying reconnaissance missions over Afghanistan. Of the 25 member crew on flights that listened in on the Afghan conversations on the ground, Bob was the only one who could translate the language which advanced technology allowed them to overhear.
I asked him how good his language skills were, whether he was confident in the accuracy of his translations. He smiled and shook his head. There were so many colloquialisms that were not part of his year-long Air Force Pashtun language immersion, he could not be certain. His job, as he came to see it, was to keep innocent people from getting killed.
After discharge from Air Force, Bob returned to Maine and got involved in politics.
Were you a Bernie guy?” I asked. “No,” he said, “I worked for the Ron Paul campaign.” Later he made a run for State Assemblyman in 2012, but his libertarian positions on gay rights and legalization of marijuana cut into his popularity with his Republican base. “I’m done with politics!”
When I said we need to get money out of politics, Bob suggested another way of seeing it – “We need to get politics out of money” he said – and described the alternative Bitcoin economy of which he is a member, complete with the Bitcoin Visa card he uses to buy groceries and other purchases in the controlled world of the Fed and other national and international monetary systems.
After his 2012 run for the Assembly, Bob and his girlfriend lived two years in Chile, followed by two more years in Colorado before before bringing their world experience home to Maine.
Now trusted old friends, Bob asked, “Would you like to go down to see the chickens?”
The chickens were in the basement – 30 young chicks being raised under the lights – next to an equal number of cannabis plants.
Bob was as tender with the chickens as he’d been watchful for the Pashtun peasants below his reconnaissance flights in Afghanistan.
“Oh, Wow!” I said.
Moral of the story? “Never judge a book by its cover. The story is much more interesting and worth the read. It’s a short walk from here to there. “Stop and walk from here.”
- Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, May 9, 2017.