So…..A black man and a white man get on a plane…..Where’s the punch line? Oooops. No joke….so it must be controversy. Political incorrectness. Did he say BLACK MAN? What’s up with HONKY? Maybe he should have said CRACKER.
Last week I flew back from an event in San Diego. The event…if you will…was put on by Steve Scanlon, through his company, ReWire Inc. ReWire is a company that helps you ReWire the way you think. Basically, ReWire, Inc., helps people in a myriad of ways. But one super sexy way is to get people (i.e. me) in a position to walk away from bad habits by replacing them with something awesome. Sounds cheesy actually. Actually for me it’s a really stupid thought. Let me think….I’m going to give up a bad habit, or addition, and replace it with something good? Might as well tell me that I’ll lose 50 pounds in 30 days. Nice thought, but it ain’t gonna happen.
I’ve known Steve for years and I totally admire him. But I have to be honest…I’ve heard him ad nauseam. A great man, but I know his routine. I know his M.O. I know his complete sincerity, but the problem is I KNOW HIM….and I get bored with repeat performances. Been there….done that.
HOWEVER, in my true quest to become all that God wants me to be, I went to the ReWire event with a completely open heart. Long story short….it rocked me. It rocked my heart. “AUTHENTIC, SUSTAINABLE CHANGE.” Not 5 easy steps to $1,000,000 (yeah right). I wanted change. But it had to be real change. I mean…”Good to Great” change. I’ll fill you in on ReWire, Inc on my next post, but I have to tell you that I left a changed man….not just the head…but the heart, or in my case, the rudder of my life.
On my way back, I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was be left alone on Southwest Airlines (you are now free to move around the country). I was tired. I attended ReWire and worked out with the NAVY SEALS (seriously…those guys). As I sat there on the plane, I was wedged between a woman with a service dog and an elderly 80 year old black man. Damn…I was the guy in the middle.
Though I wanted to be alone, I felt this little nudge that said “talk to him.” Honestly, I didn’t want to. Not because of him, but because I was spent and just wanted to pass out for a bit. “Leave me alone” I thought to myself in the silent nudging by God. But after 45 minutes into this 4 hour flight, it wouldn’t leave me. “Nat,” my black neighbor, ordered a gin and cranberry. I found out that he was ex military from his conversations with the flight attendants. So, I thought I’d buy him a drink just to appease God’s gentle nudge. However, I ended up ordering a drink for myself as well. I haven’t drank on a plane since my honeymoon almost 20 years ago. But here I was drinking with Nat.
To judge on skin color is ridiculous as Nat and I so well know.
We bonded through the booze. He was 30 years older than me, but he was my brother. We spoke seriously at first. Family histories, work histories, experiences all came out….and then the ultimate man bonding….the harassment.
PARTS OF THE CONVERSATION:
ME: Dude….what’s the deal with those nails? Are they painted?
NAT: Yes…I get them done every 3 weeks
ME: WHAT? A MANI? DUDE….YOU GIVE THE STEWARDESSES YOUR GUY CARD WHEN YOU BOARDED?
NAT: It’s not politically correct to call them stewardesses. They’re flight attendants
STEWARDESSES: I don’t care what you two call us….we’re not politically correct and you’re both hilarious
NAT: I do them and my feet every 3 weeks.
ME: MANI / PEDIS? DUDE….YOU FOR SURE GAVE THEM YOUR MAN CARD.
NAT: No one has every questioned my manhood.
Later on in getting to names, I said I have two black names….Jerome…and Lawrence. He says “those are black names?” I said “no, they’re German, but you guys stole them and now I’m a white guy with two black names.” He said, “really? They’re black?” Our “African American” flight attendant said…”Nat…they are black” and we all laughed.
Nat proceeded to tell me that his favorite place on earth is Germany and that he enjoyed his time in Germany more than any other place in the world. I told him that my father was in the service for part of the same time. We compared notes and got back and forth between family, travel and humor.
He told me that we’d be great friends if we didn’t live 2 hours away from each other. He told me that he was supposed to have cataract surgery, but although he was a man’s man, he was afraid of surgery on his eyes. I told him that my father is an anesthesiologist and has done over 50,000 of them and that he needed to get them done. He said that his closest of his 3 remaining kids lived in Atlanta. I told him that I’d take him to the hospital and spend the night with him. He again said we’d get into a lot of trouble together.
We exchanged telephone numbers and took a selfie and I bugged him about his “man purse” as I unloaded the bin above him as we deplaned. The 5 rows behind him and the FLIGHT ATTENDANTS cracked up. He was quick to tell me that MAN is the first word of Man Purse. I deplaned. We shook hands, and I promised that I’d call.
We’ve spoken since then. I’ve invited him to Thanksgiving. I told him that I’d drive to where he lives and pick him up. I told him that he could spend the night with my wife, my siblings, their families and my own 5 crazy kids. It’d be about 50 people in all and I’d have a lot of gin and cranberry just for him. He again said that we’d get in trouble if we hung out.
Yesterday one of my best friends lost his father who had just turned 89. He lives 5 miles from Nat. I told him that I’d like to come to his father’s services. But in truth….I’m secretly excited to spend time with Nat.
Steve Scanlon….a Rewiring can be a great thing for us all. It was for Nat…and it for sure is for myself. Just think if I hadn’t gone to ReWire or opened myself up to something new. I would never have met or known Nat. Now I get to see him again this next week…..and we’re both better for it.
THANK YOU STEVE
THANK YOU ReWIRE
THANK YOU NAT
Sidebar. I did ask the flight attendants and everyone who walked by us who they liked more…a strapping young great looking white guy or this 80 year old black man. Of course they all picked Nat! Nat said that everyone always picks him and he would have been surprised if anyone would have picked me…. A friendship has been born!