The camel’s nose

Barry Goldwater once alluded to an old Arabian proverb: “If the camel once gets his nose in the tent, his body will soon follow.”  I’ve experienced that firsthand.

A few years ago, I got divorced and moved to a depressed part of town.  Across one street (I live on a corner) was subsidized housing.  Across the other street was a convenience store and a dollar store.  So I got a lot of foot-traffic past my yard, which is exposed on two sides.

It’s not uncommon to find me chilling or grilling on my patio in the summertime.  That prompts a lot of passersby to comment: “Hey man, that smells good!” or, “You wouldn’t happen to have 40 cents, would you?  I’m short bus fare” or, “Dude: have you got a cigarette?”

To that last one I typically reply, “Sorry, dude, I smoke a pipe.  But if you’ve got some Zig-Zags, you’re more than welcome to twist up some Prince Albert.”

Some of them are derelicts, some junkies, some drunks, some convicts, some homeless.  But hey: I used to be a church guy, so I know: “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”  Some are in meager circumstances that are not due to personal indiscretion.  Life has seasons.

I don’t usually let panhandlers in my house.  But one day, I was sitting outside poring over the maintenance manual for my 25-year-old furnace when a local derelict stopped and asked, “What’s up?”  When I told him my furnace had given up the ghost, he replied, “Dude – that’s what I do!  I’m an HVAC-guy [HVAC = heating, ventilation, and air conditioning].  If you’ve got a voltage-tester, I can probably fix it for you.”

OK, red flag: HVAC guys make more money than I do.  If he’s a high-demand skilled trades technician, why is he roaming the streets, bumming smokes?  Nevertheless, I couldn’t afford a new furnace, and I did possess a multimeter, so I let him in.

That was the camel’s nose.

He didn’t succeed at diagnosing the problem, but he did succeed at casing the layout of my entire home.  On subsequent visits, the derelict humbly asked if he could use my washing machine or sleep in the basement when it was cold outside, or mooch a cup of coffee.  He was so courteous and humble that I always acquiesced (albeit with misgivings).

Over time, he’d made himself quite at home, scattering his belongings around my basement, raiding my refrigerator, using up all my toilet paper, etc., etc.  It went from “Would you mind if I have a cup of your coffee?” to I would make a half-gallon of coffee, get one cup, and he would drink the rest of it.

He abused my hospitality and destroyed or stole my property (this is not to mention that he was schizoid and given to delirious raving) to the point that eventually I had to say, “Enough!  Get Out!”

It was hard.  I don’t like to play the heavy.  It made me look like the bad guy.  But once he was gone, it was so refreshing.

That’s what just happened in this last election. America is a house that was built or purchased by people who work for a living and pull themselves up by the bootstraps.  But that house sits in a world destitute of knowledge of right and wrong, good and bad, or self-sufficiency.

For decades, hardworking Americans have listened to the desperate cries of the less fortunate and said, “That’s OK; you can use my stuff.  I’m willing to help you out.  I’m willing to have a portion of my wages alloted to subsidize you.  More?  OK.”  But it’s never enough.

The parasites always come across as humble and courteous.

But no matter how generous the American people are, no matter how much we sacrifice to help the less fortunate, they always demand more.  Not only that, but, as demonstrated in Ferguson and other venues, they showed that if you don’t continually acquiesce, they’re eager to start destroying your home and demonstrating their lack of gratitude and appreciation for your proven generosity.

The last election was the nice people – the wage-earners who get up every morning to toil away and sacrifice for others – saying, “Enough!  Get Out!”

It was hard.  The American people don’t want to play the heavy.  It makes us look like the bad guy.

It’s both disturbing and amusing to listen to the delirious schizoid raving of the losers, but OMG, it feels so refreshing to get them out.

Mike VanOuse is a Factoryjack (one who works in a factory) from Indiana.

If you experience technical problems, please write to