The Day I Met Daniel Berrigan

Captain’s Log   5,860

Most of the time, we view the world through our PERCEPTION of what we think is real or what we assume is the truth.  We all wear filters and use them constantly.


We see shadows, we judge books by their covers, we think we know.

Years ago I was a training helper bee for a management consultant company.  We traveled all over the United States and showed people how to be nice to their employees.  We showed them how to make the most of the oddballs on their staff who seems to march to different drummers, use different filters to see problems and opportunities, etc.   Here is a description from their website:

RapidChange Group was formed when a nun, a brain researcher, and a Fortune 500 executive got together and asked a simple question:

“Why do so few companies and so few corporate initiatives succeed?”

So that’s what we did.  After about a year, they realized that I was the oddball on their own staff who saw the world differently.  So rather than embrace me as they taught their clients to do (for $80,000 a pop), they fired me.  I found it quite amazing.  I was the poster child for what they were teaching.  I no longer perceived these people as professional and loaded with the integrity they pretended to espouse.  I saw them as complete and total opportunists who simply jabbered on about something lofty and then turned around and destroyed people.  I think they are a lot like evangelists who go on and on about purity of heart and then fuck their babysitters or pick up young male hookers on the internet.  I am very glad none of them wanted to fuck me or demanded that I work as a prostitute, but what I endured with them was awful enough.

So one day when I was working like a fool for this company in upstate New York (getting the seminar ready), I came across a rumpled old man standing on the dock in front of a retreat center at Lake George.  It was a beautiful place.  We were the only two people on campus that early Sunday morning.  I had arrived a day ahead of schedule to set up the training.  


The Inn at Silver Bay.  Located on Thomas Paine’s estate.  This building was built in 1902 and is actually a YMCA facility now.

At first I thought he might be a janitor.  I approached him carefully, armed only with a bag of M&M’s I was able to get from the vending machine (since food service didn’t start until dinner that day).   We stood on the dock together.  He was in sleepy pants and a jacket.  I had on real pants and a jacket.  After a pleasant discussion for 15 minutes or so, he told me who he was.  He was Daniel Berrigan, the famous Catholic priest who became one of the most notable war protesters of all time.  Indeed.  There I was eating M&M’s with one of my long-time heroes.  He was leaving that afternoon, so our time was limited.  

We enjoyed the morning time and the candy, and then we went our separate ways.  I will never forget that.  I will also never forget that I perceived him to be someone other than Daniel Berrigan.  

You just never know who is walking your path with you.  You never know where or when.  My point is….assume everyone is Daniel Berrigan in one way or another.  Or Batman.


Filed under Captain Poolie's observations

20 responses to “The Day I Met Daniel Berrigan

  1. We truly never know the person standing beside us, unless maybe that person is a sibling. For every Daniel Berrigan there is a nice guy who’s a serial killer, and for every beautiful person who’s evil there’s someone with a mundane face and a stunningly beautiful heart.

  2. Ter

    I know of that place! Lake George is so beautiful before the tourists come and clog it all up 🙂

  3. Lovely reality. I’ve had moments like that too that have left me perhaps star struck.

    RYN: The shower or the email address change. I tell you, the email change is a far, far worse thing.

  4. Susanna

    Uh, beautifully written!

  5. Susanna

    Beautiful written Paula! Angels unaware.

  6. joanie

    I LOVE that story. It’s such a good reminder to try to not be so judgemental at my first impression.

  7. Valerie

    I really liked this post. I love the way your brain works.

  8. Patty O'

    That was beautifully written…and challenging. I think I will spend some time thinking about the ramifications. My brain is a bit rusty and can use a good workout!

  9. Most of the time anyone who dared think outside the box is feared…and therefore, those superiors find some way to blame you for your integrity and work. My DIL has submitted at least 3 great ideas to the big City where we live which would benefit not only the employees but also the citizens at minimal cost ~ and make our city more like the progressive ones. But, instead the higher ups in the government have chosen to ignore her or to ask her to keep doing research (on her own time) so they can take any credit when and if the time comes. She is quickly becoming “burned out.”..

  10. There is such a thing as being too good at your job. I worked for a company that taught a thinking process — basically, using logic — to managers and executives. To make the process work well, it was supposed to be taught to everyone in the company. If a manager learned it properly, s/he could teach it to her/his subordinates.

    I learned the process — and taught the software to demonstrate it graphically. I was described as “a natural.” Yeah, I was “downsized.” I was better at the process than the president of our division, and you know what that means. Besides, the SoB couldn’t make me cry. That ruined his work method.

    I could have used the great salary, certainly, but I would rather be who I am than the “yes-sir” to a nitwit.

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