We set out on a journey yesterday to visit the Apple Store at the Plaza Galleria in St. Louis, Missouri. I needed a new iPhone and we decided that the best place to procure one was from the company that makes it. After a two hour plus car ride, we arrived. The first thing that we noticed was the long line of customers to check in with the friendly sales associates who were dutifully carrying iPads and logging in the customers in as to their place in the Que.
The store was packed! After a few minutes of browsing we found two vacant seats at a table that was surrounded by people doing Apple business. We had been told that our wait would be fifteen or twenty minutes and that is about how long that we waited.
Soon a young woman began searching through the crowd with a quizzical look on her face. I had speculated how the initial person that logged us in specified on his iPad what to look for when searching for Jay? Could it be that he noted a grey beard and a pot belly? Or would he note: a Tilley Hat and two gaudy rings? Or perhaps he would just place in the comments: OLD!
In any case finally our Apple expert made eye contact with me and I pointed to her and smiled and she responded, ‘Jay?’
We have shopped at Apple stores before and it has always been a pleasure! The staff is highly trained and energetic and customer friendly! Our helper not only helped me determine what iPhone that I wanted but also assisted me in transferring all of my applications and photos that were on my current iPhone to my new iPhone. Why, they even have a machine that expertly places a screen protector on your phone without error!
And so we sat down at the table that our personal shopper asked us to sit at. Among the people that were sitting there, before us, was an older man who asked if he could listen in to the instructions that we were being given as he had the same questions? We assured him that would be fine.
He remarked regarding our similarity in age and that we were just purchasing iPhones to stay in touch with our kids. He identified with and treated us in a friendly and familiar manner.
There was also an Asian man sitting next to me and speaking on his phone regarding the difficulty that he had encountered with an Apple product.
As we were being assisted I was interrupted by loud talking between the man that was listening to the explanation that we were receiving and the Asian man next to me.
The old caucasian man told the Asian man, ‘Could you be quite or go to another table to make your call…you are interrupting my hearing the comments of the Apple employee?’
The Asian man responded, ‘I do not care if you can not hear…I have as much right to be here as you do!’
After each party telling the other, on numerous occasions, that the other was, ‘very rude,’ the Asian gentleman moved to another table and the Caucasian man called out to him, ‘Go eat some fish heads!’
We were shocked as the racist comment that came from the Caucasian man and it was vitriolic! First, the young woman that was waiting on us was not waiting on the Caucasian man. Secondly the Asian man had as much right to be doing his Apple business in the Apple store as the Caucasian man did!
I have reflected much on what I witnessed. Bias and prejudice and racist comments are becoming more and more a part of the open and accepted conversation in the United States and it is a dark road that will lead to destruction and death!
The confusion and pain and hurt that was on the Asian man’s face was real and illustrative of the cruelty of bullying and racism!
I was reflecting on a comment that my friend, Anna, wrote regarding a Facebook post yesterday. I was honored and humbled that she spoke so kindly regarding my meager efforts to encourage my many friends through my postings as well as my blog entries. Her saying that I was, ‘inspirational,’ to others…inspired me!
My friend, Winton, also had gracious comments for me yesterday. Again, I was taken aback…and know that they must be talking about another Jay Brooks!
During my career at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale I was inspired by so many of my colleagues as well as many members of the University Community! I was befriended and mentored and complimented, at times, and I became part of a loving and caring family.
I began my service as a young man of 20 years and had little more than a willingness to work hard and be a professional housekeeper. Through the years so many wonderful people took an interest in me and cared about my welfare that I counted members of SIUC from all parts of the Campus as my friends.
Nothing thrilled me more than to offer the opportunity of employment in Building Services to people that would have not easily accessed the position. When I could help someone who had no political voice or ‘pull’ from within the institution…it was the highpoint of my career!
I remember how it felt not to be the popular kid. I recall what it was like to be lonely. I know the confusion of a leader underselling my abilities and making fun of my efforts.
I so enjoyed being an advocate for my colleagues that I thought seriously about not retiring. There are so many of us that have no voice and desperately need someone to speak for us and take our part and explain what it is like to be us.
I often said, regarding our wonderful staff at Building Services, that we have no idea what burdens they are bearing. We have not a clue the challenges that they are working through on a daily and even an hourly basis. We, as managers and supervisors must be about uplifting our colleagues and not putting our foot on their neck and making their life more difficult!
I watched for years before I became a manager…how devastating and life changing a hurtful word or attitude from the boss could be! With position and with title and with authority comes responsibility! When I had a private constructive criticism meeting with a member of our staff I would begin the meeting with a well deserved compliment regarding their work performance and then the constructive criticism, only about job performance, and conclude the meeting with an additional encouragement and praise for the person’s demonstrated strengths and value to our department.
Irregardless of what people say about a leader…they are watching and listening and deciding if you are fair and if you care about them! Hurtful words hurt employees!
Billy Bump talks about his friends!
Billy Bump was looking for friends. He had watched the dynamic of friendship throughout his life and he understood that to have a friend a person must be a friend! Although the statement seems profound in it’s simplicity…it carries a lot of weight.
Billy, as a youngster became friends with Jeff. Jeff is Jewish and taught Billy many Jewish traditions and introduced him to Kosher foods and was an all around mensch! Billy was honored to speak at one of Jeff’s business meetings a few years ago in the United Kingdom. He enjoyed reminiscing about he and Jeff’s over 40 years friendship and his admiration for all that Jeff has accomplished!
Billy, through his analysis, had found that the best friends are those who like you for yourself and not what you can do for them. Friendship was not conditional nor subject to financial or political or religious affiliations. Friends…
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Each and every resident of the United States of America came from another country accept for the Native Americans.
Recently our president admonished four women of color to go back to where they came from and pronounced that the women hated our country. Three of the four members of Congress were born in the United States and the fourth’s family moved to the U.S. when she was seven years old and is an American citizen and, I say again, an elected member of Congress!
I watched members of Congress and the vice president stare impassively or avert their eyes as they were visiting a detention center near the Mexican border. As the people that were inhumanly caged…without the benefit of soap or tooth paste or water to drink, without first asking permission or being told to drink out of the toilet, called out to them and attempted to plead their case!
So here we are…our president’s family comes from Germany and his mother, ‘Mary Anne MacLeod, came from the Hebridean island of Lewis, off the west coast of Scotland.’ Google
Do you recall when the president referred to African countries and Haiti as, ‘shit hole countries?’
‘First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out-because I was not a socialist.’
‘Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out-because I was not a trade unionist.’
‘Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-because I was not a Jew.’
‘Then they came for me-and there was no one left to speak for me.’ Pastor Martin Niemoller
Note: Cartoons and photos are courtesy of Google.
A great Jonathon Brooks story!
This is my latest flash fiction story.
The ginger ale was my only saving grace during the airplane ride. I had never flown before. Mom and Dad were a few rows in front of me. I could see the backs of their heads. Where do they keep the parachutes on these things in case things go wrong? I checked under my seat and found no parachute. And then I said the Lord’s prayer in silence. I hoped to be delivered from a possible plane crash. I took another sip of ginger ale. It tasted like heavenly peace.
Finally I got the courage to open my window shade. The clouds looked like the stuff poets write about. This is where my head and heart belong, I thought. I felt like Peter Pan flying through the sky. Although I was not a lost boy or on my way to Never Never Land…
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Jonathon and I just finished pressure washing our house. The last time it was pressure washed Aaron did it for me…and I thought that it would last forever! When I checked the north side of the ranch I noticed some ugly mildew and wondered why I had been oblivious to it before this week?
I began my working carer as a 17 year old working at Essex Wire Harness Factory in DuQuoin, Illinois. Essex manufactured the wires harnesses that connected the electrical components for Chrysler trucks. I was working there at this time of year in 1975. I perspired so badly that I sweat the socks off of my feet and had to, on my breaks and lunch, take my shoes off and pull up my socks! I was a bit slow for the carousel that the foreman placed me on, and so I began to drink coffee out of the vending machine in the lunch room during my breaks. Suddenly I became so proficient that the lead lady on the line called the time study office over to observe my speed! He brought out his large stop watch and measured my performance and said that he had never seen a person perform the job that I was doing that fast! The next day they speeded up the carousel!
I vividly recall the assistant superintendent of Building Services and the associate director of the Physical Plant coming to my work site when I was a Building Custodian for Physical Plant, Building Service and their watching me as I scrubbed a spot on the director’s office carpet with a small scrub brush on my hands and knees. I was neither embarrassed nor self conscious as the job required the workmanlike efforts that I was doing and I felt natural in my work.
I was watching the famous author and speaker, Norm Chomsky, last evening as he spoke on the historical fact that manufacturing has become a small part of the economy of the United States while financials and their machinations have become the major component of our county. Just a few short years ago it was readily understood that all work had dignity! Whether you were a janitor or a grounds worker or a plumber or an electrician or a mechanic…your hard work was not only necessary but honorable!
I spent my carer in Housekeeping and I am proud of it! I understood that whatever job that I was performing for Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale was vital to it’s continued success. My colleagues and I understood that we were essential to the recruitment and retention of our students. We knew that our job was as important as the chancellor and the president of the university!
Somewhere along the line we have decided that everyone needs to be involved in the ‘thought’ industry. We have lost the intrinsic vision of the dignity of work and it’s value to society. Academics is important…but someone needs to clean the classrooms so that the classes may be taught!
I have, all to often, seen the value of manual labor measured against office work or white collar jobs. Often these false equivalencies are weighted in favor of the white collar jobs and they find that the blue collar jobs are lesser and not to be desired. The outcome of this mistaken hypothesis is is painfully illustrated in the current economic condition of our nation. Half of one percent holds the majority of wealth in the U.S. Working women and men have been frozen, economically, in place for many years as the primary focus of the elites is to make theirselves richer at the expense of everyone else!
My mother-in-law and my father-in-law both worked carers in factories. My dad was a mechanic and my step-dad was an electrician.
To value one job over another and to deem certain work essential and other non-essential is much of the reason that our land is in the shape that it is in!
I remember a gentleman that worked at the Ben Franklin Dime Store when I was a boy in Eldorado, Illinois. He was a dignified and upstanding person who worked his carer at the Dime Store.
I recall buying many pairs of Red Wing Shoes at Breedings Shoes in Murphysboro, Illinois. There was a man who worked his career as a salesman for Breedings…and he was a professional and admired by the community!
I have personally witnessed many sales people look down their nose at blue collar workers as if somehow by their intelligence and fortitude and karma…they had discovered an elite position in the work force scheme of life. When in reality every position that is working honestly and sincerely and professionally…adds to the richness of life…equally!
My old friend, Jim, had been an over the road semi truck driver. To hear his reminisce about his experiences driving across the country would make you want to become a truck driver!
My mom had been a telephone switch board operator in Chicago and she spoke with such joy about the experience that her remarks are indelible in my memory!
When I was a Building Service Worker I or a Building Custodian I would leave the university each night…proud of my contribution to the success of SIUC!
‘Hurry Jose, it is almost time for our guests,’ said Juanita!
‘I am ready accept for putting on my shoes,’ replied Jose.
‘Jose, when you are finished putting on your shoes please check on the beef tartar and the asparagus, asked Juanita?
‘Raul and Esmerelda, please set the table and open the front and back doors to the great hall so that we will have a good flow of cool air for our dinner, said Jose.’
Juanita thought of how much she liked Pam and Clark. They were both such sweet and kind people! Pam was always helping with school functions and Clark coached the little league baseball team that both Raul and Esmerelda were on. Suddenly there was a knock on the door of the parlor and when Juanita opened it and there was her order of fresh Maine lobster that she had overnighted, at some significant expense, in…
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As Jonathon and I were walking campus this morning I was reflecting on the value that SIUC brings to the Southern Illinois region. Having been employed there for over thirty-two years and retired for nearly nine, I have witnessed countless lives that have been enhanced by the outreach of our school.
I was talking with my friend the other evening and we were reflecting on the former location of the Old Main building prior to it’s burning in 1969.
You see in the above photo Altgeld Hall to the left, Shryock Auditorium in the middle, and the Allyn Building on the right.
It is still not known what caused the devastating fire.
This happened close to the conclusion of the tenure of President Delyte Morris. Dr. Morris came to the University in 1948 and was President for 22 years. When he arrived Southern Illinois University Normal was a small Teacher’s College and when he retired it was a Carnegie II University with a Medical School in Springfield and a Law School on the Carbondale Campus as well as a campus in Edwardsville.
SIUC is situated in the most lovely geographical location in the state. Students attend from around the world to enjoy the peaceful serene settings that are so conducive to reflection and study and thought.
President Morris understood that he was building an oasis of learning in the heart of the desert of Little Egypt! One of his founding precepts was innovation and entrepreneurship! SIUC is the economic engine of Southern Illinois and much of the success of the entire region can be directly attributed to our University!
Having been a direct recipient of the opportunity that SIUC affords I can attest that being associated with the University has been a significant blessing for both myself and my family! When I began on October 10, 1978 I was newly married and driving a 1962 Ford Fairlane automobile. Our grocery budget was $25 per week and I had a holes in my shoes. No one had ever suggested to me that I should take college courses and I was pleased to have a high school education. Soon after beginning my career I enrolled for a class or two per semester, along with my good friend, Steve, and we commenced what many thought we were incapable of!
I really did not know how to react when in 1984 Dr. Carol Burns asked to speak with me after class and whereupon she told me that I had the academic ability to succeed in any field that I chose! I was…what I am not often…speechless!
I was honored to be a member of the Building Services staff…and I have never know a more professional and hard working group of men and women in my life! Building Services is integral in the recruitment and retention of our most precious University citizens…our students! I have known countless students who would have withdrawn from SIUC if it had not been for the caring and mentoring of their civil service colleagues on the custodial crews that they worked on.
When I began my career…I knew few people that did not look like me and come from similar customs. On my first evening work-shift I began to interact with people from around the globe!
My first supervisor was a kind African American gentleman who smoked the most aromatic cigars! He told someone who had been giving me a difficult time that, ‘You understand that Jay is my son…he just won’t call me daddy?’
I have had the opportunity to visit Europe on several occasions and have met the most beautiful and loving people from many different cultures and faiths. The tapestry of our world is much larger than Southern Illinois…and Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale…revealed that truth to me!
Note: The photos of Old Main burning are from ‘A Southern Illinois University Pictorial History,’ by Betty Mitchell
Billy Bump is at it again!
Did I mention that Billy Bump’s dad had a Harley Davidson motorcycle? It was the jumbo model from the early 1960’s! The beast, as Billy called it, was able to comfortably carry dad and mom and Billy, in the middle of them.
Now Billy’s father was not just into his Harley…he had the leather jacket and motorcycle hat and he carried a concealed hand gun, that he did not have a permit for, and he did not seek trouble…but he was on a hair trigger ready for it should it find him!
Billy’s dad enjoyed jazz music. He would listen for hours to Billie Holiday sing…while he had a far-away look in his eyes. Billy’s father had fought in World War II in the Pacific Theatre. He had seen action on Okinawa and refused to speak about what he had witnessed. He had left a wavy haired boy…and had returned…
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It has been said that opposites attract!
‘In olden times, sacrifices were made at the altar, a practice which is still very much practiced.’ Helen Rowland
‘The most important four words for a successful marriage: I’ll do the dishes.’ Anonymous
‘By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.’ Socrates
‘I love being married. It’ so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.’ Rita Rudner
‘Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry meant with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed.’ Albert Einstein
‘All men make mistakes, but married men find out about them sooner.’ Red Skelton
‘The secret of a happy marriage remains a secret.’ Henny Youngman
‘The trouble with some women is that they get all excited about nothing-and then marry him.’ Cher
‘Love is a temporary insanity curable by marriage.’ Ambrose Bierce
‘Before marriage, a girl has to make love to a man to hold him. After marriage, she has to hold him to make love to him.’ Marilyn Monroe
‘Many a man in love with a dimple makes the mistake of marrying the whole girl.’ Stephen Leacock
‘Marriage is an attempt to solve problems together which you didn’t even have when you were on your own.’ Eddie Cantor
And, so, many marriages fail due to unrealistic expectations. A successful partnership is predicted on two equal partners.
The dysfunction in government today is a direct result of having intransigent ideologies that the elected representative and senators and president believe that they must win at all cost…or everyone be dammed!
Our political system was founded on the principle that there are three equal branches of government. Our founding fathers did to want to live under another monarchy…they had fled the one that they had in England!
Also, congress and the senate are specifically designed to ensure that compromise of the political parties is paramount to the success of the legislative process. We live in a nation that has tremendous resources but does not have the will to martial those resources to help the poor and the middle class…but rather is focused on the rich and powerful and those that line the pockets of or political leaders!
The sad state of affairs we are currently experiencing is our elected representatives and senators and president, cater to their base and care little about the rest of the country!
Compromise is the seeking of the middle. People of good will and logic can almost always find a middle ground that both parties can agree on. The truth be know…the United States is not comprised of far left or far right citizens…but rather moderate of middle of the road or people who understand the art of compromise!
Media caters to the most graphic story! Television seeks the headline that will grab the eyeballs of the most viewers! There are entire cable news networks that are dedicated to a political point of view and who basically exclude all other points of view.
Marriage is based on the stellar concept that the successful decision is the decision that is best for both parties. Our political system is predicted on the same concept!