Cook: Let's learn from our mistakes in life
After retiring from the Navy as a chaplain, I worked as a chaplain for a large chicken processing plant in North Carolina. I supervised three other part-time chaplains. My wife said that my title was the "Chief Chicken Chaplain."
The plant had over 600 Latino workers, and I took the opportunity to try to learn conversational Spanish.
On one occasion, as I was walking through the lunch room, I noticed four Latinas eating a dish I had never seen. I asked what it was, and they answered and asked if would I like a plate.
What happened next was embarrassing. I thought I had responded, "No, I am not hungry," in Spanish. But what I said was "No soy un hombre!" (Translated: "No I am not a man!")
Someone next to us spoke up: "Padre, you just told those ladies that you are not a man!"
They all giggled at my response.
The Spanish word for hungry is "hambre." The word for man is "hombre." Hambre, hombre — close! And in the words of Homer Simpson: D'oh!
It is a good thing that I don't take myself very seriously. I can't afford it. I learn from many, many mistakes. Later, whenever I would be walking through the chicken plant and I would see one of the above ladies...I would thump my chest with my fist and mouth the words, "Soy mucho un hombre!" (I am very much a man!) At which they would laugh and wave hello. I learn a lot from my mistakes.
That reminds me of the old cowpuncher that had applied for a new insurance policy. The agent asked the old fella, "Have you ever had any mistakes or accidents?"
"No," said the cowboy, but added, "Wait a minute, a bull kicked in two of my ribs last summer."
"And you don't call those accidents?"
"Naw," replied the cowboy. "It wasn't an accident; the bull did it on purpose!"
May we all learn from our mistakes in life. Now that is something to think about.
Tom Cook is a volunteer chaplain for the Forest Grove Police Department and Forest Grove Fire & Rescue.