Friday, April 26, 2013

existence

I was saddened to read about the story of Richard Cobb; he was executed in the state of Texas for a murder committed during a robbery/rape at a convenience store.  He died at the age of 29 and had committed the crimes when he was 18. In the execution chamber he was quoted to have said, "Life is death, death is life. I hope that someday this absurdity that humanity has come to will come to an end," and later as the drugs were taking effect, "'Wow! That is great. That is awesome! Thank you, warden! Thank you (expletive) warden!"  

How awful to think that he was only a teenager when he behaved so terribly that jurors in Texas agreed that he had forfeited not only his freedom but his right to live. 

I once knew someone who was like Richard Cobb, except that he was (hopefully) less violent and slightly older when I met him but the attitude toward life was the same.  Like Cobb, Joseph was a high school dropout with a criminal record and a history of drug use.  Joseph began working as a doorman for the bar I tended at after completing a prison sentence.  I wouldn't call what we had a friendship but he talked to me more than the other coworkers, probably due to my sometimes stupidly naive inability to be rude to people even if they deserved it.  I don't have that problem anymore.

The more hardened and streetwise coworkers quickly had his number and avoided him but I saw no harm in letting him sit next to me and chat when work was slow. I quickly learned that he was not a good person and in fact, was damn scary. I grew smart fast but it was too late to disengage from him so for several months he would sidle up and menace entertain me with stories of past crimes that he had committed and then ask me to tip him out for 'favors' he was doing for me. He was making off with several hundred dollars from me per week when he suddenly stopped showing up at work. Later, the man who he was staying with showed up at the bar looking for him regarding some business to do with Joseph and his wife.  That was thankfully the last time I ever saw or heard about Joseph.

Years later I was visiting San Antonio and having drinks with friends at a different bar when I recognized the bartender as a former colleague.  He sat down for a few minutes and updated me on some of the old crew (one waitress had married a professional basketball player, one of the bartenders had run off with a biker, etc.).  Then he told me that he had seen on the news that Joseph was dead.  When I expressed sadness he looked at me in shock and informed me that no one else felt that way.  Why was I sad when Joseph had been such a miserable person?  He had been a violent criminal with a long string of crimes committed regardless of whether the victim was good or bad.  He didn't care about anyone, maybe not even himself.  My colleague told me that I was still as naive as before if I could feel sorry for Joseph.  Maybe he is right and maybe I am still dangerously naive but with my happy and safe life I can afford to feel sadness for someone who never learned to value the beauty of the world or experience goodness.  How sad to die so young and empty.

No comments: