Oct

10

Lately, I've been contemplating the lessons that I've learned in my life, with special emphasis on the things that I learned, believed, and found out later were wrong.

I wonder what I don't know now that is hurting me as a father, businessman, husband, etc.

For instance, I never bothered with counting. I relied solely on technical analysis and my ability (or what I perceived as my ability) to recognize patterns and tendencies. If this list has taught me anything (besides the necessity of counting), it is to test my premises and try to falsify.

Let me give you an example of something that happened to me over the 4th of July weekend.

My family went down to our lake house for the week. We went over to the Current River to sit on the shore and let the kids swim.

I absolutely hate doing that. I hate the intense heat coupled with the bugs. I hate sitting on a gravel beach. I hate getting grit in my swim trunks (it always seems to find its way into uncomfortable areas).

But what I hate most are the types of people that are there. Now before you judge me for what I'm about to say, please hear my confession to the end and my followup request for forgiveness.

I didn't like the people that frequent those gravel beaches. I don't like the way they act, the things they do and they way they behave. I don't like their lifestyle. I simply don't like much about them. Basically, they were the epitome of white trash.

I was sitting on the gravel beach, next to my dad, step mom, and 4 year old. My wife and older 3 kids went downstream about 200 yards to play on a rope swing (swing out from shore over the river and let go…lots of fun, if you're a kid).

The people on the upstream side of me were listening to some country music that I didn't like, were guzzling beer, and chain smoking (I hate the smell of smoke). The people on the down stream side of me were smoking and guzzling beer, and listening to some weird bluesy thing that I didn't like (please note, all these people drive their cars right to the shore line and turn on their stereos). The people on the sandbar behind me were listening to Lynrd Skynrd which I do enjoy, but couldn't hear too well because of the other idiots' loud music…but that didn't matter because the Skynrd crew was directly upwind of me, so I got to smell their smoke.

The conversations that were occurring around me were enough to make me want to jump and strangle them all. "My stupid boss was b!+ching at me again, for being late. But I was only 1 minute late, so I wanted to tell him to #$%#^$$ off" Basically I was surrounded by the inane conversations of low IQ, low personal drive, low self esteem, lazy, under educated, union mentality, entitlement mentality, tattoo adorned, chain smoking, alcoholic wife beaters, who's lifetime highlight was when they were on COPS! Yes, typical white trash.

At least that's what I was thinking. I know that's harsh. But it's what I was thinking.

I guess I'll confess right here that I have a hard spot in my heart for white trash because I grew up with them, played with them, fought with them (read: got my butt whupped), got stabbed by them 3 times, and was bored with their inane idiotic low IQ conversations.

Anyway, back to the story.

I decided to walk down stream to watch the kids swing.

As I got within 100 yards of the rope, I watched my 7 year old son, Hunter, take his turn for a swing. He walked way up the hill with the rope, ran down, kicked his legs up and started his swing out over the river. Unfortunately, he held the rope to low, so when the rope snapped taut, Hunter went crashing into the water right at the edge of the shore.

I watched him climb out of the water with a pained look on his face and could see him mouthing the words, "ouch, ouch", and holding his leg.

My 11 year old son David walked over to Hunter to see what was wrong. David's eye's got real big and he started screaming to his mom, "Mom, get over here, Hunter is hurt". At first Gwen didn't know what was going on, but when David yelled, "Mom, Hunter is cut bad, I can see his bone", Gwen sprang into action. She turned to yell for me to come over and help as she was running out in the water to get to the other side of the river (the rope swing was on the opposite from where we were).

I turned to one of the one of the people that I had classified as white trash and handed them my hat and sunglasses and asked them to "hold this". They did so without hesitation. As I ran out into the river, I was contemplating how to get Hunter back across. I saw a "white trash lady" with an inner tube. I was going to ask her for the inner tube, but I didn't have a chance to ask as, she was already running towards me with the tube saying, "Take this across to get the boy".

As I was swimming across, I noticed another man was ahead of me almost to the other side already. He ran up on the other shore where my wife, Gwen was already with Hunter. He ran up and said, "I'm an off duty police officer, let me help".

Now as a rule of thumb, when someone is hurt, you're supposed to stay calm and let them know everything is going to be ok. This "white trash off duty police officer" took one look at Hunter's leg, and dropped the F- Bomb, "Holy F###". But even with that faux pas, he took charge. He grabbed Hunter's leg, and applied pressure, got a wrap around it.

I finally made it to the shore, and saw that things were as under control as they could be with Hunter, so I started to strategize how to get him across the river.

At that moment, a group of "white trash canoeists" were coming across the river. A whole group of them!!!

The first one to make said, "Put him in here, put him in here, we'll get him across". So I picked up Hunter, cradling him in my arms, with the "white trash off duty cop" still applying pressure to his leg and waded out into the current.

When I got to the canoe, the "white trash lady" in the front jumped out and said, "get in here", helped us in, got Hunter and me situated so I could apply pressure to his leg, and her husband started paddling us across. I have no idea what happened to her, except that I could hear her yelling at her husband, "Paddle faster, paddle faster".

It was then that I noticed, as I'm paddling with my right hand, and holding Hunter's leg with my left hand what was happening in front of me, upstream.

A whole group of canoeist were coming downstream, but in front of them, blocking the way, was a whole bunch of "white trash people". They were directing them to the shore and out of our way. I heard several other "white trash people" yelling upstream to another group of WTP to bring down their power boat to get us upstream (actually it was the group of WTP that was smoking, beer guzzling, and listening to some weird bluesy music right next to where I was just sitting 5 minutes ago) that had the powerboat. They started coming down stream to help.

By this time, we were in shallow water (maybe thigh deep). All of a sudden, WTP started running out into the water, getting on both sides of the canoe, grabbing it, and pushing it up stream.

I was yelling up to my father, "Bring the Ranger down, Dad, unhook the dogs and bring the Ranger down" (we had my Polaris Ranger with us at the Gravel Beach). Unfortunately, my dad didn't hear me. However, that didn't matter. Some WTP ran up to him, told him what was happening while another WTP was unhooking the dogs from the Ranger.

My dad jumped into the Ranger and started coming towards us. As he's driving down the gravel beach, WTP are moving their chairs and coolers out of the way so he could get by.

When I saw him coming, I told everyone pushing the canoe upstream to get us to the shore, which they did. I jumped out and grabbed Hunter and started running up the gravel beach.

Just as my dad and I met, and I was putting Hunter into the Ranger, handing him to his mother (I have no idea how she got there), a WTP ran up to me and said, "Here you go buddy, good luck with the boy, the nearest hospital is in Ellington". The reason he said "here you go" was because he was running toward me to give me back my hat and glasses.

I have no idea what happened to that inner tube that fine lady shared with me. I have no idea what happened to that canoe, that off duty cop, the person who gave me my hat back, the people who pushed the canoe, the people who directed the canoe's toward the shore, the guy in the power boat who tried to get to us…I have no idea whatsoever. I don't think I would recognize any of those people if they walked up to me and said hello.

All I know is that the same people that I was just looking down upon as white trash with just short of disdain were the ones who had, without question, jumped up and helped me rescue my son from his precarious situation. They had given of themselves and helped me and my family!

I wonder, how many more blind spots do I have in my life? How could I have let myself get so blind so as to not see the goodness within people? How many other areas of my life am I missing out on opportunity because of preconceived erroneous notions?

How does this effect my trading? Where am I lacking wisdom, or worse yet, where am I ignorant and don't know that I'm ignorant?

I am on a mission to find those blind spots. I want to then falsify and remove them from my life.

In the meantime, I owe all those wonderful human beings on that gravel beach an apology.

Craig Mee replies:

I offer that, being in situations you are used to, (ie WTP having probably most holidays and weekend breaks in the same areas ) breeds familiarity and confidence and thus a solid framework, for moving into top gear and showing a professional evaluation of the circumstances when needed. Though bring others in with no knowledge of local condition ie, depths, drop offs, road access, and the like, and they will fail miserably , no matter how good the intentions. > > Maybe the old adage of , trade markets you know, and in a crisis where, most downside will be, you will surprise yourself, by how well you dealt with it.

The President of the Old Speculators' Club responds:

A friend of mine who reads this column asked me why I was writing a three-part series about "rednecks" when there are so many other things going on right now that are worth writing about. It's a worthy question. And there are many reasons why I consider the discussion of "redneck" America timely. Here are just a few:

1. The slow transition of our economy from one fundamentally based on domestic manufacturing and production to one based on technology and services — that imports its hard goods from other countries. This has implications for the future of such typical "redneck" (and largely unionized) vocations as factory work, trucking, mining, auto assembly, etc.

2. The cultural shift that's challenging (some would say marginalizing) such historically mainstream American institutions as the practice of religion, heteros-xuality, opposite-s-x marriage, military service, citizenship, firearm ownership, private property rights — and scholastic, athletic, or workplace achievement through competition. Many of these things are staples of "redneck" life.

3. The fact that America is currently at war (or at least militarily engaged) on multiple foreign fronts. As you've just learned, this has major "redneck" ramifications.

Basically, my overarching point in devoting so much ink to "redneck" America is to show just how integral to the American fabric (and economy) these people are — no matter how distasteful that fact may be to many who are now front and center in the mainstream media. And indeed, many Whiskey & Gunpowder readers who rendered feedback on the first two parts of this series wrote in with their own positive anecdotes and affirmations about the shunned, yet vital majority these pundits call "rednecks." But a few criticized me for not painting the whole picture of this huge segment of Americana.


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