hartley-stevensAdventures In Imagination

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Just The Other Day… Short

 

Just the other day, my friend Jan, who’s known me most of my adult life, startled me with a question: “Did your parents use corporal punishment when you were growing up?”

My dear friend has always been one to tease me at every opportunity. Sometimes I don’t know whether he’s shining me or he really doesn’t remember conversations from our past.

He is a few years older and has been a mentor in many ways, especially in business. I always soak up his words and my serious wheels began to grind. I said, “Of course, I’ve told you a hundred stories.”

I wondered, were we getting into a conversation about corporal punishment? Were we getting into a debate as to whether punishment of any kind was moral? Was he getting ready to ask me my opinion of carrot and stick as it related to employees and staff?

We were standing in a large parking lot, summer in central Florida, the rain was imminent. I was ready. Let me give you a condensed version of my relationship with Jan from years past.

Roll back the clock. He was the manager, I was a first year supervisor for a large, world renowned fitness center. Two-thousand people a day passed through our doors and his mantra was customer service.

Earlier in the day I’d found two pennies, then I found a quarter, then later a dollar bill. All on the floor, all anonymous. I eagerly told him of my found treasure.

He said, “Good luck is where you find it.”

That’s probably not exactly what he said, but, I was Grasshopper, and as far as I understood he was Master Poe.

A day later, the owner of the fitness center took me to New York City for the first professional conference of my life. Me, the country mouse, had truly arrived in the city. On my second day there I went with friends to a night-club; a New York City night club. On the floor, near the restrooms, I found a hundred-dollar bill.

Back home I told Jan of my incredible money luck over the past week. He agreed I was very lucky.

The following week, I found more money. It was shocking. I found money while vacuuming, I found money while cleaning toilets, I found money while sweeping under sweat-soaked matts. It was all change, hard coins, but damn. In a week and a half I’d found a hundred and ten dollars.

If you look, you will find. A wise man finds treasure in the most unusual places. Money attracts wealth. These were all lessons I’d learned from Jan and the boss. I was a believer.

I approached Jan, and told him of my Midas touch. He did a good job for a while, then his features bent. I studied. He burst forth with laughter.

It took moments, but, I finally caught on. “You planted it. Asshole, you planted the money.”

He walked away in a coughing fit of glee.

 

Current time, back in the parking lot. I was obviously cynical…

Jan says, “My son asked me if I’d ever been the victim of corporal punishment.”

I asked, “What did you say?”

“I said, one time I was complaining about yard work my father asked me to do. My father asked, ‘Do you know that Abraham Lincoln, when he was your age, walked two miles in the snow to school and two miles home every day?’

“I said to my father, ‘Do you know that Abraham Lincoln was President of the United States, when he was your age’.

“So yes, I know something about corporal punishment.”

I was riveted. “So, what the hell did your dad do to you?”

There was a long-lasting silence as he raised his chin and looked towards the clouds and the coming rain. He rubbed at his face as if he was remembering a horrible time. I was embarrassed to be witnessing his pain. I too, looked for the rain.

After a moment, a sound, a hic, cough… his shoulders were shaking. I made a move to comfort him.

Then… then, the sorry son-of-a-bitch… turned his face and burst into laughter. I had to think for a moment, then I too busted out laughing.

The rain came, and we still just stood there laughing.

Finally he said, “Adventures in imagination…”

 

The End