Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Go to Work Every Day

a Brother Simmons story

Brother Simmons is a good friend of mine.  I met him in Michigan our first year there.  I can’t say I’m sure why, but he and his family really connected with mine and me—took us under their collective wing, which, on a number of occasions we really needed.  The best part of their generosity and love, is they never held it under our noses or expected anything or even acknowledged what they assumed they must have meant for us.  We were just a part of their family.  Brother Simmons, his wife, and his seven (at the time, there are more now) children, are remarkably down-to-earth people, with that Wisdom so particular to people who’ve learned the hard way, stuck with it, and come out the other end okay.  Strong and together.  I’ve got a dozen stories that would tell you how great this family is, but I want this entry, for a change, to be short.

We were at their new home in Utah, having made the drive in honor of the wedding of their oldest son, and were all hanging out in the kitchen afterward.  As usual, Brother Simmons (and, yes, I’m leaving out his name—though it’s plenty awkward to call him anything else) and I were sitting together, joking (he’s got the greatest jokes—and seems, for better or worse, to reserve the dirty ones for our little sit downs), when suddenly he got serious a moment and asked how we were doing.  I told him the story about our move to Utah and the uncertainty of it all, and he told me this story:

He and his wife married very young.  I mean VERY young.  Most of their friends and relatives were not happy about the union, at least at the time, and as the newlyweds were indeed, essentially, still kids, all these “friends” and family felt very free to tell them so.  There were all the questions: How’re ya gonna pay for everything; How’re ya gonna accomplish anything; Y’ain’t even goin’ta college; You know what happens to kids like you who think they’re ready for this?  And on and on.  And this is AT THE RECEPTION!

In addition to the demeaning rhetoric of the questions was the condescension always present with bad advice.  But the couple bore up well, confident and in love, and stuck it out.

Toward the end, one man in particular came through the line.  As Brother Simmons said, “a little Mexican who helped out with the shop class at my high school.”  He went on to describe him as a hard worker, but with kids who all turned out losers and either in jail or on their way.  “But,” he said, “this man gave me the only good advice I got that night.  I don’t remember another word from all those people, but what this man said has stayed with me all my life.”

The man said something like this: “All these people, they don’t know you.  They can’t tell you anything.  They say you’re going to lose.  Don’t listen.  Listen to me.  If you want to make it in this world, go to work everyday.”  Then the little man patted my friend on the shoulder and walked off.

Go to work every day.


And he did it, my friend, Brother Simmons.  He went to work every day.  Period.

Back in the kitchen, Brother Simmons looked at me and said, “Joe, it doesn’t matter what you do—substitute teaching, manufacturing, teaching, whatever.  Just do it.  Every day.  Then come home and love your family.  Things will be okay.”

Then he told me another dirty joke.  That was two years ago.

Well, I went to work today.  I’ve been “working” since I left the school, but working at finding a job!  Today, I had a job.  Tomorrow I have a job.  I’ve got an interview too!  The next day I’ve got a job.  Will it pay the bills?  Heck no.  But I’m going, and here’s my pledge, to me and my family:


No comments:

Post a Comment