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Ralph Bruksos' Blog

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"WHERE WE LIVE?"

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Like many of my peers, I am at a loss to form an opinion of the hundreds; some say thousands, of homeless people in our city.

I spend a lot of time with owners and managers of small companies in and around our city. When the question arises, “What is your number one problem in business today?” There is one answer, “finding enough people to do the work we are asked to do for our customers.”

“Too much work, not enough people to do the work.”

An interesting comment, “We have more work than workers sometimes.”

In the gym, where I work out, they have attendants and other men and women, a high percentage are Filipino. The starting pay is about $15 per hour, with paid vacation, sick pay, health care, 401-k and free lunches.

I ask, making conversation, any plan for the weekend? “No, I am working at my other job.” “Where is that?” “Johnson’s Restaurant” or “City Hospital” or “I drive Uber.” Amazing how many have one and a half, some, two jobs.

Some have a child in private school; one a janitor older man from China had two enrolled in a local University. Both graduated.

Another man; has for years, one and a half full-time jobs, finished his own degree and a daughter graduating from nurses school. Had her in a private school from age 5.

When I was fishing, my fishing buddy also hunted with his favorite partner, when they arrived made camp, after dinner he would go outside and sleep, even though they had two bunks in the VW Van.

When we were running, met many men who would sleep outside rather than on a mat with a hundred others in a public facility. Some just plain liked to be out of doors.

One woman, from Africa, supporting her mother and assisting with a younger brother works two full time jobs.

Seems the one common denominator was the amount of time and effort devoted to work.

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"You've Got To Be Carefully Taught"

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When I get to my locker in the club where I work out every weekday, I open my locker, and first thing, I take out a 3x5 card and write the five things I am grateful for that morning.

When I finish the fifth thing, I draw two lines and then I write, “And today I will be non-judgmental.”

One day I saw a sports figure displaying his socks on International TV depicting our police as pigs, complete with a picture of a pig wearing a police cap.

A famous sports apparel company, made him one of their spokesmen, because the age and political views of most of their customers are in sync with their new ad campaign.

Many persons took offence at their making him a spokesman for their line. When I was reminded to stop being judgmental. We are not included in their market. Even if we were, they have the right to determine their campaign.

Based on the incredible worldwide success of the company I would conclude that they know more, about reaching their market than I will ever know. It is none of my business.

I love that song, my title for this piece, from the show South Pacific. “You’ve got to be carefully taught before it is too late. You’ve got to be carefully taught before you are 6, or 7, or 8. You’ve got to be carefully taught to hate all the people your relatives hate. Whose eyes are oddly made, it’s not born in you, people whose skin is a different shade.”

If that is not enough, the news will give us a strong, daily boost in who to hate.

I have a choice, just for today, to hate the police officer who died last night, protecting the dance hall patrons in another senseless massacre in California - wear the socks, or honor and revere his memory, my choice.

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"SOMEONE WILL HELP YOU"

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Once you decide to do something, chances are that there is someone, usually near you, that will help you.

Once I decided to do a marathon, experienced runners came forward to help with suggestions.

I was 42 years old, fifty pounds overweight, started smoking at age 10, was thinking of quitting smoking again. I did it for good.

Someone suggested a training manual published by the track coach at Seattle Pacific University. I ordered the manual.

I started running in earnest indoors on a twenty revolution per mile track. I could barely make one full, once around, one twentieth of a mile.

There was a small group of men, usually about six. One by one they started running outside. When I was the last one running alone on the beautiful composition track, banked, I decided to go outside.

The first time I tried it, I stepped off a curb, mid-block that I didn’t see, fell and scraped my knees and hands and regretted running outside.

After a few days, I was outside again.

Had been running outside for months when I realized how nice it was.

One week, Sunday to Sunday, 8 days, I ran 100 miles in training. It was a grand experience.

It was almost a year to the day from when I started training. The marathon was “here”, 38 degrees, 20 knot winds, raining. The newspaper opened with “The Worst Weather in Seattle Marathon History.”

Many had varying levels of hypothermia.

Did it in 4 hours and 5 minutes. The next 54 marathons and three triathlons were easier.

I ran my last marathon to celebrate my 80th birthday. That was enough for me.

I realized, for me, get a training schedule, follow it. A winner is the person who does what they say they will do. I lost 50 pounds. The best part, now that I finished, was that “I did what I said I would do.”

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