Tow Professional - Volume: 11 Issue: 2

Page 18






Mental Health Part Deux


think that the main reason that mental health issues are so “taboo” and no one talks about them is that most people have absolutely no training or understanding of the subject. We can’t be expected to unless you’ve been in a position where your primary occupation was looking out for the signs and symptoms of mental health issues. It’s time we gave ourselves a collective break and realized there IS a happy medium, so to speak, between ignoring and hiding mental health issues and being a licensed therapist. That happy medium exists where you’re able to acknowledge that issues may exist, and that just talking to the person may help them immensely – and also knowing our limitations and when it’s time to refer someone for professional counseling or other help. I’ll be skipping around a bit, and that’s ok, since I’m hardcore ADHD. (See how easy it was to admit and recognize an issue in myself?) Let’s get something out of the way – it’s ok to cry. Yes, even as a big tough man who recovers tractor-trailer rollovers for a living. It’s also ok to be mad – really mad. It’s not ok to hit our spouse or significant other, it’s not ok to curse out an employee, and it’s not ok to take out all your frustrations on the employee at the Burger King drive-thru when there’s a mistake on your order. Just establishing the ground rules. As I was talking to our magazine’s owner about this article, and the precursor I wrote last month, we talked about men crying. A memory came to mind. Did anyone see the movie “Pumpkinhead”? It’s a late ‘80s B-rate horror flick starring Lance Hendrickson, the guy who played “Bishop” in the Aliens series. It was 1991, I was in the Air Force, and I was stationed on a remote tour in Kunsan, Korea. “Remote” means a lot of things – unaccompanied (no family), way out in the middle of nowhere, and no direct support bases. I’d made two really good friends upon arrival who are still friends to this day. Brian and Dale. All three of us were staff sergeants, had young children, were married, and leaned on each other for company during this remote. One year away from it all. Every Sunday, we’d gather in one of our rooms – the “host” usually rented the VHS tapes and provided snacks – sometimes beer and chips, sometimes milk and cookies. The host got to pick the movie. I picked “Pumpkinhead” on this particular Sunday, hoping that a campy horror flick would break up the monotonous work of doing our time at Kunsan. We settled into the movie, seated with our beer and chips, 16

TOW PROFESSIONAL | Volume 11 • Issue 2


and as the movie developed, Lance Hendrickson played the father to a young blonde boy. All three of us staff sergeants had young children. My boys were four and five at the time and had blonde hair. Brian had a four-year-old; Dale had a three-yearold. In the beginning stages of the movie, we see that Lance’s character owns a fruit and vegetable stand on the side of the highway. The boy’s mother, Lance’s wife, died from cancer a few years before, so it’s just father and son. Lance has to head into town for a minute so he tells his son to stay put in the house, play with his toys, and watch TV. Just after dad left, a group of people in their late teens rolled up to the store and one of them unloaded a dirt bike to play with on the nearby sand dunes. His companions tried to get the young guy to leave the bike alone, but his ego wouldn’t have it. The guy was revving the bike, and then took off, jumping the small hills. The little boy heard the bike running and busted outside, looking to see what all the noise was about. He ran out onto the dunes to get a better look just as the teen on the bike was jumping a hill – and he landed square on the boy with his motorcycle. The dad came back, and all the kids were crying and freaking out while apologizing. The dad screamed at them to leave. He carried his son, now barely alive, into the house and laid him on the kitchen counter. He washed the boy’s face, straightened the boy’s wire-framed eyeglasses, cleaned the lenses, and placed them on his son’s face. The boy opened his eyes for a second, said “Daddy”, and died.

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