Mission Bay in San Diego is a huge aquatic park. It has many coves, and serves everyone from sailors to Jet Ski riders. As you might imagine, it is chock-full of marinas, which are some of my favorite places.
Recently, my friend Jason and I were walking down a sidewalk on the south side of Quivera Basin in Mission Bay Park. The sidewalk connected a couple of marinas, and other businesses that served the boating public. It was near dusk, and I was enjoying a view that included wood shingled buildings, trees, and lawns.
I noticed a man near the sidewalk who was standing at the base of a flagpole. He appeared to be in his fifties. He wore glasses, navy work clothes, and work boots. In his hands was the end of a huge American flag. He was slowly gathering the material with a look of grave consternation on his face.
I recognized the problem, and approached him. â€œMay we help you with the flag?â€ I offered.
He turned to me and said, â€œThey sent me to do this alone. You need more than one person.â€
â€œYes,â€ I said, â€œItâ€™s a two man job.â€ He allowed me to take hold of the flag.
Jason, a student of the Spanish language, spoke to the man in that language. The manâ€™s face brightened with surprise and delight. He pointed at Jason and said, â€œHabla Espanol?â€
Jason modestly responded, â€œUn poco.â€
I pointed to myself and said, â€œTambien!â€ more out of hope than humility.
The man pointed at me, now truly shocked, and said, â€œHabla Espanol?â€
â€œUn poco, tambien,â€ I responded – somewhat concerned that I might be put to the test.
Jason and the man chatted in Spanish while they worked together disconnecting the flag from the halyard. The conversation ceased when the flag was held out flat with Jason at one end, and I at the other. I did not need to ask him if he knew the drill. With solemn focus, and in silence, we folded the flag in half the long way, then in half again. I was at the end with the stars, so Jason folded the corner across then forward, across then forward, repeating the pattern until our hands met. All three of us tugged at the material to make the job as neat as possible.
The man asked from where we came. Jason explained that I lived in Tucson, while he lived and worked in San Diego. The man asked Jason where he worked. Jason explained that he worked in an expensive bicycle shop. The man asked what the bikes cost.
â€œCinco a dies mil,â€ said Jason.
â€œPor uno!â€ I added.
â€œAy, c—–!â€ the man exclaimed, showing some skepticism.
We three yucked it up a little longer, then I presented the flag to the man, and he accepted it. We bid each other, â€œAdios.â€
I am truly sick of all the â€œdiversityâ€ crap. â€œDiversityâ€ is billed as an enhancement of our cultural experience, but more often is used as a wedge to divide people. It is our commonality that binds us together – our love of country, and our love of each other as individuals.