A necessary evil
I saw a friend from Florida up north recently in her apartment where she talked about her younger weightlifting, physically hard working type boyfriend who never came to visit her in the city. He did however call twice a day which she said no one else did and this showed some care.
I told her about a fellow worker at a job I had years ago, in his sixties, who also weight lifted and carefully played the woman he was sleeping with. Somehow he had relayed this to me after a talk on how it was impossible for him to save any money because something always came up. What was left was to maintain himself, meet his needs, and just continue and “come what may.” At the worse his son might have to pick up the pieces. Sleeping with this woman he had met at the laundromat was one of those needs. He told me he carefully played her, would not reveal too much, but enough to keep her interested. He entered and withdrew from her life, staying a mystery. In his words 'he was getting what he wants.' I told the lady friend I was speaking to he was a 'clever bastard.'
I then recalled to her what I had read about the charming ambitious muscular Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the gym, talking to fellow lifters, he would size up the weaknesses and vulnerabilities and attitudes of the women he ran across. Using hand gestures he molded a strategy for what it would take to have his way with each of them. Presently my friend said her boyfriend was 'attentive to her' and filled some of her needs. Upon hearing these vignettes she said 'so my R is a clever bastard, huh.'
I remember working for a boss from Eastern Europe who while being likeable on one level, lied, cheated, manipulated and sucked up to get what he wanted on other levels. If he had gone to my elementary or high school and exhibited this behavior he would have been isolated and reprimanded if not expelled. He was brought up in the Communist block where you placated the powers that be while scheming and lying your way through daily life. The kids I knew who had gone to Catholic school exhibited some of those traits.
They say the Russian mafia is more dangerous and harder to eliminate than the Italian mafia because each member is a complete force unto themselves. The hit men are not dumb oafs while the Godfather wise and all knowing. Rather, each member is a survivor and opportunist in their own right, fully capable and just waiting for the next move. This was G, a total operator. The only thing is he didn't even know it. To him it was just normal behavior and he basically thought he was a good person. He often said he tried to be the 'nice guy.' He would set up people to get fired then manipulate the facts so it looked as if they messed up. When it was time for them to move on he would give them horrible references. He would promise raises and deliver pay cuts, playing to each person's weaknesses. As he effected and even hurt and damaged various lives, he remained likeable and appeared almost innocent. Is a rattle snake guilty of being a rattle snake? Some said where he was from they suck up to power and squash all those beneath them. Coffee runs for the management while having employees stand for 8 hours straight was par for him.
Years later I was speaking to a clothing salesman in the property G supervised who had been a victim of G. Walking with a limp, he now had to park his car blocks from where he worked because of an arbitrary ruling G had enforced. When I alluded to the unfairness of G's actions, the salesman exhibited a bigger understanding and said 'well, he's a necessary evil.'
How liberating I found that. You mean, I don't have to topple, eradicate, sentence, or hurt him to get even in some way? Or for that matter feel bad for not doing so? Or even feel guilty about achieving some protected status as one of his henchmen? Or even petition the government against certain immigration policies that let the likes of him in this country? No, all no. He was part of the scenery. He was part of the universe that was presented to me. He fit in somehow in his own way and principle be dammed. He was 'a necessary evil.'
My friend up north softly and reflectively said 'oh, my R is also a necessary evil' as we continued to walk and talk.