THERE is a breed of man, not at all rare, who goes through life neither at a walk or at a run and yet neither at a trot or a gallop. You know the breed as well as I do. You may be married to one or your father or your brother may be one. You may be related to one. There may be one among your in-laws, so great are their numbers. They move faster than the average man and yet as I say they neither trot, run or gallop. Neither do they walk. They seem to glide, although it is not the word I require. They do not lift their legs very high off the ground and yet these same legs must leave the ground frequently to meet the pace required by their owners.
As a rule, they walk with their coats open and with tails flying behind them. It would seem that there was never enough time to button the coats or on the other hand it may be just a trick to accentuate speed. Whatever it is, I have never seen one with his coat buttoned. On the faces is usually a look of despair as if they were searching for the Holy Grail and knowing they were going in the wrong direction. Do not, however, be deceived by this look. It is not genuine. It is a cultivated look calculated to deceive, calculated to give the impression that its owner is about his lawful business and doing more than most to have done with it.
It is a look carefully bred to conceal a large number of minor deficiencies. So also I might add is the fast movement designed to give the impression that the mover is literally killing himself in his efforts to accomplish whatever it is he is trying to accomplish.
In the English language there is no word to describe this type of individual. I have searched thoroughly and nowhere could I find a word or number of words capable of doing the job. In the Irish language, however, there is a word which is ideal in all respects. It is the word “fustar”, which means, at once, fussiness, rush, confusion, commotion, etc. We will therefore call this type of dodger a fustairer. The true fustairer hides his errors in a cloud of commotion. He is difficult to nail and I have personally known fustairers who have put respectable firms on the brink of bankruptcy.
Whenever there is a little panic they add to it by doing nothing to stop it and by clouding the issue with other issues. They are to be found on the verges of all crowds expostulating and gesticulating for all they are worth, adding fuel to fires and contributing to the general confusion as if they had been employed to do so. They are great exaggerators , although they never have to open their mouths to do so. By flurry and by woebegone expressions they spread uneasiness.
They are the sparks that start the fires of panic. Yet for all this I admire them and respect them and I am of the belief that they are as important to the community as the postman or the doctor. We sit complacently at our firesides and at the corners of our streets unprepared for the day when the sky will fall, unready for earthquakes and tidal waves, heedless of the fact that the earth might disintegrate at any moment.
We are not even conscious of the calamitous time in which we live and we should therefore be grateful for the existence of the fustairer. He is ever alert and ready to create calamity, even where there was no likelihood of calamity before his arrival. He is like Johnny Appleseed of American apple fame. Wherever Johnny went he left a trail of apple trees behind him.
Wherever the fustairer goes he leaves a trail of uncertainty and uneasiness in his wake. His very hurry alone is enough to instil a state of hysteria, although there is no foundation whatsoever for it.
The fustairer is in his element when there is total community effort. Being one of the community he is naturally involved in the effort and has the same status as any other contributor. Given reasonable latitude he will totally wreck any effort before it has a chance of getting off the ground. If he is a known fustairer he will be known for what he is; a dangerous element to be kept under constant surveillance. When he is known he can be not only tolerated but also enjoyed.
Where he is not known he can be truly dangerous. The description of him which I have given, however, should be a help to those whose duty it is to capture him and neutralise him before he can do any damage.
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