Monthly Archives: July, 2019

Roots

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Soon will be the beginning of another school year at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale.  All that I hear sounds promising with our recruiters working overtime and our campus community placing the last minute touches on our preparations for our wonderful students!

Civil Service staff such as the Grounds workers have been lovingly caring for the resplendent outdoors of SIUC.

IMG_9297As I walk the Campus on a daily basis I see Plant and Service Operations workers busily at their tasks of maintaining and enriching and beautifying the place that they are so dedicated to!

IMG_7143Accountants and clerks and Building Service Workers and Plumbers and Electricians and Carpenters and Locksmiths and Customer Service Representatives and Food Service staff are anxiously awaiting the return of our students and the coming of our new class!

IMG_5776 2Many civil service staff are working two and three and more jobs created by vacancies that have occurred do to budget constraints.  They not only deserve their colleagues respect, they merit recognition by university administration and acknowledgment that without their efforts…there would not be a Campus for our students to come back to!

There are many well thought out theorys regarding how a university looses students and how they retain and gain them.  Modalities have changed and the young people of today are not looking for the same college experience that their parents were.  It has been postulated that our students are looking for a ‘turn key’ university experience and the bells and whistles of modern life are a requirement and a must have for the recruitment and retention of them.

All of these components have value and have their place…but they are not the answer at the soul of the question.  At the heart of the matter students are looking for two primary needs in a comprehensive university experience.  One would be excellent disciplines and professors to teach those courses in a caring and cutting edge manner.  Second would be a university community and a regional community that cares about them and that welcomes them and that makes them feel at home!

IMG_5846We humans are social animals…we crave love and family and acceptance!  Many of our students have left homes that provided them with less than what they needed of all of the above elements!

My friends can tell me anything…my enemies can keep their opinions to theirselves!

‘Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.’    Proverbs 27:6   KJV

 

Television On Three Channels!

A Jazzman blog for your enjoyment!

The Jazz Man

Billy Bump enjoyed TV!  He began most of his mornings in the Chicago Heights watching Bozo the Clown which was a live production from Chicago.  Billy considered Bozo the funniest clown that he had ever seen!  Bozo had giant feet and a red nose and his face was white with clown makeup.  Bozo was such a regular in Billy’s suburban home that he thought that all kids must be enjoying Bozo at the same time that he was.

Billy sat upon a sectional couch that had four separate sections.  It was black and white and was the epitome of early 1960’s sheik!  He enjoyed his oatmeal while wearing his pajamas with feet in them.  Billy assumed that all PJ’s had feet in them and he enjoyed the warmth of them…especially in the winter.  In fact Jane, Billy’s mom, required that he wear his socks to bed, if he did not…

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My Buddy And Brother…Ron!

It is my buddy’s birthday!  Happy Birthday, Ron!

Ron has been much more than my brother-in-law for the past over 41 years…he has been my brother!

From the evening of March 24, 1978 when I met Ron…I liked him and felt an affinity for him!  If you would like to meet a good hearted and kind person…you should meet Ron!

I have spoken with my buddy for countless hours about the vagaries of life and the mystery of our existence.  We have commiserated over politics and religion and family and the roller coaster ride of life.

We have traveled together and have been privileged to stay with him and his lovely wife Ira…on several occasions.  These are always pleasant and memorable experiences with both of our hosts going extremely out of their way to make Mary Jane and I and Aaron and Jonathon welcome and comfortable and maximizing our vacation pleasure!

This fine man loves his family and it is a bedrock of his existence!  He knows how to have fun better than I did when I was in my twenty’s!

Ron has made my retirement extremely enjoyable and complete!  We have set plans to travel with he and Ira Kaye for the next two years and I could not be happier!

Ron is a man that even when we disagree he respects my opinion!  I would call him a blue collar scholar only because he is adept in all of the manual arts and yet is extremely well read and educated and can talk on any subject that he is presented with!

We visited Jamaica just after I  retired and he suggested our traversing a waterfall called Dunn’ s River Falls.  I struggled for every step and foot hold and relied constantly on the kind Jamaican people to help me up the dangerously moss covered and, ice, slick falls!  While fearing for Mary Jane and my life…I watched Ron run up the falls and prance about like an antelope!

Ron joined Mary Jane and I on a Caribbean Cruise in January, 2012.  He was so enthusiastic and in to the gifts of a cruise that he renewed my love for cruising!  His comment for most of the meals was, ‘this is to die for!’

Ron is fun!  He is in the moment and he is interested in enjoying every minute of life that God has bestowed upon him!  He is an inspiration to me and I wish him Happy Birthday and another 50 more!

Billy & Steve…’Down By The School Yard’

Billy and Steve Down By The Schoo Yard!

The Jazz Man

Billy and Steve were in the Christmas spirit!  Billy had graduated high school and had not a real plan as to what to do with his life going forward.  He actually was so involved with church work and his regular 8am – noon job at the furniture store…that there was little time for thought and planning.  Billy had struck out on his own without a job and with little visible means of financial support.  In fact for the ‘Board’ portion of ‘Room and Board’ he was sleeping in the church.

brown and blue house on mountain Photo by Matt Hardy on Pexels.com

Steve had left home and hearth as well and seeking gainful employment.  He was a good natured person with a constant mischievous smile on his face!  Billy had hailed from El Dorado, Illinois and had invited his buddy to spend the Christmas holiday with him at his mom and step-dad’s home.  They were both…

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Happiness And Hate @ The Apple Store

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!

 

Encourage!

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!

 

 

Friends

Billy Bump talks about his friends!

The Jazz Man

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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Silence

Each and every resident of the United States of America came from another country accept for the Native Americans.

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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!

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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!

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Mike Pence+Migrant+Concentration Camp+McAllen+Texas+Body Language+Body Language Expert+Emotional Intelligence+Nonverbal+Speaker+Keynote+Consultant+Los Angeles+Las Vegas+California+NYC+14aSo 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

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Note: Cartoons and photos are courtesy of Google.

Eight Ginger Ales

A great Jonathon Brooks story!

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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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The Dignity of Work!

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.

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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!