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This time of year I'm reminded how thankful I am for you folks

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Around this time of year I can't help but reflect how thankful I am to have become acquainted with all of you strange characters that hang out here on the forum.  It's easy over time to take things for granted, but I want you all to know how much you add to my life.  It's so fun to see the different personalities here interacting and exchanging ideas and discoveries and just sharing a slice of their life with some other random folks.  I'm very grateful to be a part of it.

Here, have a GIF

thanks mouser :-*

Thanks @mouser.
I consider that we forum members are probably equally lucky in having the First Author/Admonistrator   ;)   that we do, on this forum, and that, for all us oddballs, it's probably another case of "Vive la diffĂ©rence!"

I recall how, when I was first at college, years back, I went to the canteen to grab some lunch, but when I had my tray loaded and paid for, there were no empty seats at any of the tables - except, conspicuously, for 3 seats at a 4-seat table where an old codger - the scruffy-looking janitor - was sat, eating his lunch. Yuck. He cleaned the toilets, wore grubby-looking clothes and a cloth cap, and walked with a shuffling gait. People avoided him. Nobody wanted to sit next to him. So, I went and asked him if he minded my sharing the table, he said it was fine, so I sat opposite him. I forget how we started talking, but something he said sounded like he'd been in the military. I asked him if he'd been in the military, and he said yes, and told me his story. He'd enlisted in the Army towards the end of WW2 as a Private, under-aged, but lied about his age, so they accepted him. He had survived a couple of battles with the Germans and was sent home after being wounded in the leg/hip (thus explaining the shuffling gait).

I was overcome with a sense of humility and saw him in a completely different light. He was one of the hundreds of thousands of ordinary men and women who had left their families to bravely risk their lives to save their country (Britain) from being invaded by the Fascist German National Socialists (Nazis) and to protect and preserve Britain's national sovereignty, freedom, liberty and democracy for later generations. The guy wasn't just a lowly decrepit-looking college janitor, he was a jewel and the salt of the earth and I was lucky enough to be sat opposite him, talking to him. I had him and many others like him to be grateful to for the fact that I could get and enjoy my education and a life of liberty, free from the jackbooted heel of oppression under a Fascist German Federal Socialist State that was presided over by a maniacal dictator and run by his lobotomised unelected bureaucrats.

After that, whenever I met a stranger, I would try to assume nothing and would wait with expectation to see what sort of jewel I might be able to discover. The experience started to teach me the lifelong lesson that we are all self-imprisoned, shackled by chains made from the nonsense that is in our heads. We are so bound up in our own little discrete universes, unable to perceive a "reality" or see Others except through a set of filters which are our paradigms, propaganda, conditioning, bigotry, false assumptions and absurd beliefs - thus making the Other seem almost alien and "I" and "the rightness of I" seem to be all that really matters. If the Other does not conform to this perception, then the Other may even be perceived to be somehow variously bad/evil, deserving of death, etc.

That janitor is often in my mind and he is typically one of the people I think of on Remembrance Day (Poppy Day) - and when I see the national sovereignty, freedom, liberty and democracy of a country at risk of being trammelled by a plebiscite seemingly ignorant of, or despising their hard-won heritage left by their forefathers. I wonder what he would have made of it, or whether he would have given his life for that. I suspect he would.

I never did like Turkey.  :)

But it is fun to chew the fat with the motley denizens of DonationCoder.  :)

@IainB  I worked a temp job at a high school and the janitor there was similar to the fellow you met.  This guy fought in the Pacific Islands campaign during WWII.  He had one leg obviously damaged that he sort of dragged after him as he walked.  When he ran into me during his duties we talked a bit.  Mostly I listened since I was never in the military nor in a battle zone.

But I am sure he felt alienated from the students.  I think with adolescents though it is more of a case of self-preservation.  They don't want to give an enemy/rival ammunition for a put-down.  So they are limited to being seen with "cool" people or those who could be immediately assumed to be such.  Just not knowing about their music,slang, happenings etc.. is usually enough to disqualify you as being worth talking to.  It is a closed society.


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