Saturday, August 2, 2014

Good for the Soul

See some old friends,
Good for the Soul.
-Bob Seger

And indeed it was.  Thursday night I did something that I do so rarely that I cannot recall when prior to Thursday I had last done so.  Instead of heading straight home from work, I headed to New Brunswick to have dinner with two great friends, including one who I have not seen since he headed to the Far East to stir up Big Trouble in Big China several years ago.  I kid of course.  While some who have known him a long time refer to Doc as the "Mad Hungarian", he is a wholly benevolent soul.  Absent creating a ruckus for trying to indoctrinate as many Chinese as possible into the religion known as Notre Dame Football, he shall never be confused for a trouble maker.  Not Doc.  Not ever.

As luck would have it, I caught up with Doc - and Doc alone - as the third member of our group, Gerard, spent his day and evening in the performance of duties far more important than sitting around reminiscing with an old friend or two.  The pitfalls of fatherhood I reckon. 

Doc Rud is one of the finest teachers I ever had and one of the finest people whose company I have ever had the pleasure and the privilege to keep.  Had the decision been mine to make, no reason ever would have existed for him to have sought cause to continue his career of shaping young minds anywhere beyond the four walls and tree-lined campus of Wardlaw-Hartridge.  It was not.  His journey initially kept him fairly close to home as he simply matriculated south to Mercer County and the Pennington School.  These past few years however he has been teaching American History and quite a lot about Life as well to Chinese students at a school in China. 

We spent a couple of hours together on Thursday evening, each consuming an "adult beverage" or two and dinner too, at the same place where I had seen him last, which is the Harvest Moon Brewery in New Brunswick.  He had the same hearty laugh that I have heard for more than three decades.  The same gentle nature too.  Same stiff upper lip too, which he maintained even as he shared with me the story of the way in which the Chinese officials who run the school where he has worked for the past several years screwed him out of his position for the upcoming school year. 

I think the proper term for it - given the company he had been keeping - is "Shanghaied".   Had I not been hearing this recounting of events from an old friend, I would have almost taken comfort in learning that language and cultural differences notwithstanding, mid-level bureaucrats in China are cut from the same low-rent douchebag cloth as their American counterparts.  How refreshing to see that institutional cowardice knows no international boundary line. 

Doc is a good man.  I do not doubt for a moment that he will come through this latest monkey wrench that has been tossed into his day-to-day as he has each one that has preceded it.  His ability to withstand it does not make what he is being forced to withstand any less shitty.  But it did make getting to spend just a couple of hours with him - spending most of our time discussing anything but - such a good thing.  And not just for me.  For him as well. 

It turns out that Jimmy D's Firehouse Red (    goes quite well with soul food.  

Exceptionally well in fact.  


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