one man’s dilemma

by tobias crabtree


(i got good news and bad news)

i’d like to start off with the bad news, if you don’t mind, and since you’re not here to say one or the other, i’ll assume it’s ok. i’m going to present the bad news in the form of an allegory, if i was jesus, you might call this a parable but i surely am not jesus, so we’ll stick with allegory.

*note–an apology to those friends of mine who’ve heard this story already, it’s one of my go-to’s whenever i’m digging for some sympathy. double apology to those who’ve heard it more than once due to either my bad memory and/or one too many glasses of bourbon.

setting :   the veteran affairs office in eureka, california.

characters:   1.) a long haired, semi-discouraged, 40-something fella with a hurt back and an aching tooth (me, of course).

                         2.) security guard.

                         3.) i could be mean here and give a full description of the gov’t employee behind the counter in the room at the top of the stairs, but i will refrain…just this once.

i’m not one to go to the doctor or really get help from someone (health-wise) unless it’s really hurting me, the kind of hurt that is affecting my life. so i looked up the vet office and i went down there. i parked and walked in. just to let you know, i was showered and shaved. i took  two steps through the door and was called down by the security guard. he simply said, “turn around, walk back out and come back in without that pocket-knife.” i had a little 3 inch pocket knife on a clip that stuck up outa my pocket. i was taken back by this guy’s aggressive little greeting but i understood…mostly. i walked back in after dropping my cutter in the truck. i walked through the metal detector and the ugly glare that was casting off ol’ hard ass’ glasses.

come on tobe, i was thinkin’, no bad attitude, all flowers and sunshine so maybe this’ll go well. i walked into a little office at the top of the stairs. it was sometime around 11 a.m. 

the woman that was behind the counter glanced at me out of the corner of her eye and then continued to talk…for 10 minutes with a person i could not see in the back of the room. she finally came to the counter and asked me what she could do for me. i said i was looking for some help to figure out my veterans health benefits. she sighed and said i needed to come back after lunch. “when’s that?” i asked, now obviously irritated. “at 1:30,” she said, and turned away.

i went out the door, past ol’ hard-ass and struggled to keep from letting my temper get a foothold this is just a little runaround, i told myself, no big deal.  i was at the door at 1:30.  the same woman asked me for my DD 214. long story short, i didn’t have proper paper work. now i understand that it makes things easier to have the correct paperwork, but in this woman’s eyes, there was nothing to do for me. nothing. she said i could apply for proof of being in the military but that there was a 6 month wait involved with that.

and in my head, there was this: they sure didn’t need tons of proof of who i was in boot camp. i was another shaved head. and 6 months to prove i was a marine? 6 months! and i was a marine corps sniper and a recon man and i’ll bet if i was popping rounds off in the street they would know who i was and what i was in minutes. i mean minutes.

i asked for the papers to begin the 6 month process. that was 2 years ago and i have never received a damn thing in the mail. my guess…she threw my papers in a pile that is still in that office in eureka, california.

ok, that’s the end of that boring story. i want to say that i’m under no illusions here. i don’t think i’m the only person to have this happen. that pile of papers in that office is made up of men and women some of whom are worse off than me by a long shot. there are moments when it’s wonderful to be a nobody, and sometimes it really sucks.

no thanks to my government, i’m healthy as an ox now. i’m healthy because i’m eating veggies from a land that is tended with love. the meat from the sheep is honored because they were raised here, on the same land. there is another way that is less dependent on the government. we should all be exploring these processes…it’s a matter of survival and simple awareness.

this is where i get to the good news. i believe in a way out from under this foolishness. it involves working in small, strong thinking groups that learn how to depend less on what’s being tendered as “need” by the big shots (hey, this includes pharmaceuticals and  bank accounts)  and depend more on one another. here i’d like to say, i’m not against modern medicine, i’m against it’s abuse by doctors who use it as an easy way out.  it involves open-mindedness. the folks in washington do not have open minds. they do not understand. (if you doubt me, ask yourself this question, do you think any senator or house member would ever be treated like i was at the vet’s office? come on, now…they do not know what it’s like to be a nobody. how poor has the poorest president ever been?)

it’s never easy to begin the process of change. it always requires discomfort. the alternative is what we’ve got, and worse, what it’s moving towards. a goal should be to be aware and to start cutting out our dependency on anyone that simply wants a vote (cash).  we should be aware of where our items come from and be willing to support our friends and neighbors (our tribe).  use technology as a tool against the powerful, aggressive money hoarders. the more we understand our own systems, the less we need the system that seems to exclude us. i believe the common man/woman is way more resourceful (and valuable) than any suit in washington.

let ’em play their games. let’s meet out here on the earth and get strong.

this isn’t me shouting faith, it’s me telling truth.

(also, let me make something clear, i don’t think we need to revert to the dark ages here.  i’m not against modern medicine, i’m against it’s abuse by doctors who use it as an easy way out. i had a great doctor when i was a kid, he encouraged us to eat right and play hard. we need those kind of doctors, not the ones more interested in what combo of drugs will make you feel almost the same as if you weren’t using any.)

(and banks, yeah, they suck. i might carry my cash around in a sock if i had enough to put into one…oh yeah, i don’t have socks.)