Inspired by something I read here. I liked it so much I wanted to add it to my blog. It’s especially poignant for me at this particular time of my life. Aside from the challenges faced by all fathers, it seems a few more are poking their heads up for a look, much like a prairie dog. This afternoon I shared a ride back to the mechanic as a passenger in my own car where I’d taken it yesterday to have some brake work done. A young man named Angelo was my driver (and one of the mechanics) and as we drove by Centennial Mall downtown due north of the state capital he asked me why there were a smattering of tents as well as a large teepee in the clearing. “The teepee is new,” I said. “About half of the tents are gone since the weather hit single digits. I guess they had room for the larger teepee once that happened.”
“But why are they doing this? Is it some sort of contest?” he asked. I briefly explained the Occupy Wall Street movement to him as best I could. How the movement originated, some of its original intents, and the mess it turned into. I walked the straight and narrow, leaving my own opinion out of it as I had no idea where Angelo stood on these matters. When I mentioned the calls by some in the OWS movement to waive and forgive all student loans on the part of the government, he shook his head. “That’s not right at all! I work hard. I make my money. I pay my bills. No one forced them to go to college. Sure if I decide I want to make more money I will have to look at going back to school, but that’s my choice. No one put a gun to their head and told them they had to go to school or take out those loans.”
We talked more. He a mechanic, and me the son of a mechanic; discussing a range of things. “When I get hurt in the shop, I don’t rush to the hospital for a band-aid or aspirin so that someone else can pay for it. I take care of it myself. Kids today are soft. When did that happen?” This led to our discussion in how we’ve both treated deep, clean cuts from the workshop: rubber cement and masking tape. We compared shop/factory-related injuries…both of us having shorn skin off of knuckles when a socket wrench slips under the car hood (though my dad’s instances of this were much more common or severe than my own). But I understood where Angelo was coming from.
We covered more in our twenty minute ride, of doing without when necessary…and making sacrifices, but those were the highlights. We arrived back at the shop where he returned my key and we shook hands, going our separate ways but along the same path. I went back to the office and remembered the Grantland Rice poem I had read a few hours before. My new friend Angelo has little inkling of campus life, or of college coursework or football Saturday (other than what he watches on tv, he said). But I suspect that had he chosen that path in life or had the opportunity, he’d have been a pit bull and “punted out of the rut” successfully.
Strike that. I bet he has.
By Grantland Rice
Bill Jones had been the shining star upon his college team,
His tackling was ferocious and his bucking was a dream;
When husky William tucked the ball beneath his brawny arm
They had a special man to ring the ambulance alarm.
Bill had the speed—Bill had the weight—the nerve to never yield;
From goal to goal he whizzed along while fragments strewed the field;
And there had been a standing bet—which no one tried to call—
That he could gain his distance through a ten-foot granite wall.
When he wound up his college course each student’s heart was sore;
They wept to think that Husky Bill would buck the line no more;
Not so with William—in his dreams he saw the field of fame
Where he would buck to glory in the swirl of life’s big game.
Sweet are the dreams of campus life—the world which lies beyond
Gleams ever on our inmost gaze with visions fair and fond;
We see our fondest hopes achieved and on with striving soul
We buck the line and run the ends until we reach the goal.
So, with his sheepskin tucked beneath his brawny arm one day,
Bill put on steam and dashed into the thickest of the fray;
With eyes ablaze, he sprinted where the laureled highway led—
When Bill woke up his scalp hung loose and knots adorned his head.
He tried to run the ends of life—when lo—with vicious toss
A bill-collector tackled him and threw him for a loss;
And when he switched his course again and crashed into the line,
The massive guard named failure did a two-step on his spine.
Bill tried to punt out of the rut—but ere he turned the trick
Rick-tackle competition tumbled through and blocked the kick;
And when he tackled at success in one long vicious bound,
The full-back, disappointment, steered his features in the ground.
But one day when across the field of fame the goal seemed dim,
The wise old coach, experience, came up and said to him:
“Old boy,” spoke he, “the main point now before you win your bout
Is keep on bucking failure till you’ve worn the lobster out.
“Cut out this work around the ends—go in there, low and hard—
Just put your eye upon the goal and start there, yard by yard;
And more than all—when you are thrown—or tumbled with a crack—
Don’t lie there whining—hustle up—and keep on coming back.
“Keep coming back for all they’ve got and take it with a grin
When disappointment trips you up or failure barks your shin;
Keep coming back—and if at last you lose the game of right
Let those who whipped you know at least they, too, have had a fight,
“You’ll find the bread-line hard to buck and fame’s goal far away,
But hit the line and hit it hard across each rushing play;
For when the One Great Scorer comes to write against your name—
He marks—not that you won or lost—but how you played the game.”
More excellent poetry of this type may be found at The Nomad. Check it out.