A long time ago I decided that a young man was someone five years older than I was or less. Even as it evolved over time, it still worked for me. Now I just don't know.
In a few weeks I'll be sixty seven. That sounds old, but I don't feel old. I still wear the same size clothes I did in my teens, my weight's pretty much the same - if arranged a little differently. I can't run like I used to, but I tell myself that that's just because I don't run like I used to, the knees just got to hurting too much for that kind of exercise.
A few months back I volunteered for a United Way Days of Caring event and outworked a whole passel of young airmen and women from the local Air Force Base shoveling gravel.
I'm not old, I keep telling myself, I've just been around awhile. And then I read this.
Some damn fool in Georgia went and shot and killed a twenty-two year old Latino man for, as nearly as I can tell, pulling up in his driveway. Or being Latino. Or because he couldn't tell the car was backing away from him. Or something.
Rodrigo Diaz, 22, was driving around with his girlfriend and two friends when he pulled into a driveway, thinking they had arrived at another friend’s house, his brother says. But instead he pulled into the driveway of Phillip Sailors, 69, who thought his home was being robbed, his lawyer says. Sailors then shot Diaz, according to the police report, citing what Sailors told officers at the scene. Diaz later died while in the intensive care unit.Philip Sailors is a Christian man, they say. Like me, a Viet Nam veteran. Only a couple of years older than me. Probably knew some Spanish, as if he needed to speak to Rodrigo Diaz in Spanish.
Sailors’ lawyer says his client is a Vietnam veteran with no prior criminal history and thought he and his wife were about to be victims of a home invasion. “You have to understand this is a 69-year-old man who is a military veteran who has been honorably discharged,” Michael Puglise says. “He dedicated his life to community service, specifically the Christian Lay Ministry in Latin America.”I can get a little confused at times. I put away a lot of drugs and booze between here and the gatepost. Am I fooling myself about having my wits about me? Should I be led away quietly?
Puglise adds that Sailors’ small, quiet, quaint town is now plagued with gang activity and the home next door was vandalized weeks before. He fired a warning shot and then when the car was accelerated to go in reverse he perceived it differently."Each person in the situation perceived things differently. He most certainly did not hear anything." WTF does that mean? I'm service-connected disabled for PTSD and hearing loss, among other things. I used a lot of LSD back in the day when I was trying to get my head on straight. I know a little bit about altered perception, flashbacks, not hearing stuff. But I don't know what that means.
“He’s an elderly man, he perceived the car going towards his house, towards him.”
Asked about the contention that the victim rolled the window down and said sorry and he wasn’t doing anything wrong, Puglise said he wasn’t aware of the statement.
“Each person in the situation perceived things differently,” he says. “He most certainly did not hear anything.”
Is the lawyer saying that late sixty something Viet Nam vets are so decrepit that we can't tell whether a car is backing away or coming toward us? That we can't understand when a young person rolls down the window to say he's sorry? That it's okay to just shoot the driver in the head?
I guess I must old, because I surely don't know what to think about that, except maybe to call "BULLSHIT!"