This edition is simulcast in podcast form.
Specially created for the visually impaired and the
I want to tell you something that was said to me recently. But as with most things, I can't tell you what was said, straight-out. My mind tends to work like thousands of little index cards, all attached to each other by a string. If I want to get to one simple idea, I have to first make my way through twenty or thirty related ideas that are all threaded together. If I pull one card, another comes with it, then another and another and so on, until I'm ensnared in a tangle of cards and string and I've forgotten what the hell I was talking about in the first place.
This is usually what causes my wife's eyes to glaze over.
So in telling this, I'm going to take the long way around so I suggest you sit back and enjoy the ride. Hopefully I'll be able to find my way to the end of the story without getting lost. Probably not though.
Whatever. It's not like you've got anything better to do.
Trojan Jackson used to sit in the back of the room during study hours, doing the oddest thing. Studying. This was the fall of 1986 and we were pledging. The rest of us were far too busy NOT studying, to study. We were doing assignments for the brothers, talking about what had happened the previous night, or worrying about what would happen that coming night. If we were studying, it was the history of the fraternity, chapter history, line history dating back ten years or we were quizzing each other, trying desperately to memorize dozens of poems. Not Troy. While we all flitted around the room in a panic, he sat in the back, large and stoic, with his arms folded, staring at his book. Like a huge, grey stone.
…That is to say, if the stone could read… And then get up and go to the bathroom every once in a while… And if the stone could go to the vending machine for a candy bar.
When we asked why he wasn't in as much of a tizzy as the rest of us, he said simply in a low, grumbly voice, "What for? We gon' get mopped anyway." That was Troy. He was, and still is, a man of few words. When he does speak, his words very often mirror him. They are hefty and without pretense.
Years later, as I was on my way to lunch, I saw Troy sauntering toward me. He wore a festive, brightly colored shirt with light colored slacks and he smiled warmly as he approached. "Shippee!" he said, chuckling in his baritone. We embraced and I immediately started peppering him with questions about his family and his job. He answered my questions calmly. His family was doing well, the children were growing fast and oh by the way, he had quit his job. "Really?!! When?!!" I asked. "Just now." He glanced at his watch, "Well, five minutes ago." "Oh!", I said, "You just gave notice huh? Where is your new job?" "Don't have one." He said matter-of-factly. "You've got to be kidding!!!", I exclaimed.
After much thought, Troy concluded he had suffered sufficient abuse under his current manager. He vowed to himself that if the manager did or said one more thing out-of-pocket, he would quit. He did, so Troy did.
He explained, "I just told him, 'To hell with this. I quit.' I went to my desk and packed up my things." My jaw fell open. I asked if he was worried about getting another job. "Naw." he said coolly, "Something will turn up." "What did your co-workers say?" I asked, still in shock. "Oh they agreed with me, but they were still surprised I did it. They kept asking how I could do something like that. I really don't think it's a big deal if you have no fear." Had it been said by someone else, like me, that last statement might have sounded like bragging, but that's only because I would have been bragging. Coming from Trojan Jackson though, it was simply a statement of fact. Two days later he had a new job.
Recently I had dinner with Troy, Audwin The Black Belt, and Al Davis, another one of my pledge brothers. Everyone was dressed in a ties and suits. Except for me. I wore a green, flowered shirt, with jeans and a sweatshirt. Troy pointed out that I dress like a goddamn, grad student.
Yeah. He got jokes.
We ate and talked about work, life and relationships. Having been married twenty years, Troy was the elder statesman in the group. He was explaining how his wife handled most of the religious duties with their children, as he was not particularly religious anymore. "Really?" I asked. "How does that work?" It simply wasn't all that hard, he explained
"You'd be surprised how things can work if you just let sh*t work."
"I'm writing that down so don't be surprised if it ends up on The Franklin Chronicles!" I said, scribbling on a scrap of paper. He just chuckled in a deep, rumble.
"Oh." I continued, "And don't sue me!"