Now, although I always thought that we should help our fellow man and woman, it was not always so clear, or open for public display. I have always felt that the average or below average person was not being heard. And being one of the below average, I spent most of my time listening and making my decisions based upon what folks felt first.
Now, when I say below average, I don’t mean intelligence. No, I mean the cards you are dealt with as a child to journey into becoming a thinking and giving citizen of the world. After all, I am sure all of us will agree that we have met some of the smartest, book-smartest people in the world, but what you learned in school has nothing to do with the amount of common sense you have, or your street smarts.
What you learn on the streets is about the everyday experiences you have to go through, and it has nothing to do with how fast you can turn a page and store the information. I call the knowledge gained from your experiences, applied knowledge. If you don’t apply it, you don’t survive it. Whereas book knowledge is some- thing that you can know, but it may never see the light of day.
Please don’t think I am knocking education or the educated people. I am very sure that our country was built on the educated. What percent was learned in a book, I don’t know. Our world leaders have the book smarts to formulate the plan and the rest of us citizens, whether we are book smart, or street smart, or contrib- ute two cents based on what we know, learn, or expe- rience every day. I wish I had had a better education than I’ve had, it would have saved me a lot of pain and trouble in my life. However, if I had to do it all again, the only thing I really would have done over was meet- ing and talking to more people, ’cause people are what it is all about.
Folks ask me all the time what I think would solve the world’s problems. Now I think they ask me because they think I will come up with something witty, and in most cases, I do. But I don’t always hit my mark. Humor is only humor if someone laughs, if they don’t, well, then it is only an opinion and our world has enough of that. I am hard pressed to find real news anymore when I flip on the media. These days even the simplest news slants one-way or the other. It is the age of information, the super highway, but even the super highway has a right lane and a left lane. I try to drive down the middle, but that just gets me honked at most of the time.
Only now in my life do I see the value of a good education, as it applies to my everyday life. If the world was more educated eight or so years ago, then we might be in a better state right now, and not in a state of confusion.
I am going to back up a little and let you folks know that, like I said earlier, I had the thought that we must help each other, but I didn’t let that out until I was, I think, thirteen. Before this magical age, I lived as a kid survivor of a dysfunctional family, which, as you talk to people, you find out that you are not the only one out there. It is a matter of degree of how you will let it affect your future.
At age twelve and below, I would lie, steal, cheat, and eat all my food, ’cause that was about all you could own as member of a poor family, the food you ate. If you left anything, someone else would eat it and you would starve. But I’m sure glad that I kicked those bad habits when I was young. Although in my 30s when I worked in the car business, I almost slipped back into the world of lies. It is hard to surround yourself with storytellers and not start believing them yourself someday.
I once heard this saying and has since said it to myself if I feel weak and start to elaborate on a story—“If you lie too much, one day all you will have is a liebrary.”
So, at age thirteen I said to myself, “No more lying, no matter what. Face the music.” This took practice, but when I got it down it saved me a lot of embarrassment.
I will skip a few years and get to the way and reason I am where I am today. So I had been trying this new- found outlook on life and the way I deal with people for a good ten years. It got to the point that I was stop- ping to help people and giving folks money, and talk-
ing with strangers about whatever they wanted to talk about. I was a regular human being; the only thing I was missing was a scripture to read from. But mine was not a mission of God, more of a mission of the people. People ask me if I believe in God and I say, “yes,” and add an, “And, oh, I believe in good.” I just felt good talking with folks, and talking, most of the time, with the most troubled people first.
See, in my years as a performer, I learned as my skills the things I could do to pay the bills. One of the things I did was balloon art. You know, clown balloons, “Can I make you a dog or a heart, a flower?”
So I was and am pretty good at twisting a balloon or two. I worked at most of the chain restaurants like Applebee’s, and El Torrito’s; and I would stroll around the tables and make folks laugh with a balloon. But I had to have an icebreaker, and that was asking questions.
Now, let me tell you, the first thing they bring to a table at a Mexican restaurant, other than chip and salsa, is booze! So I had to become good at the first ten seconds of my pitch. That let me know if I would be able to remain at the table, or if I would get the brush-off. When you are working for tips, that would be the key component of the size of my parting gift from that table.
I’ll tell you my secret. And I will give you folks this golden secret because you bought my book. I promise I will not have any other item in this book worth a dime. Most of what I say is just my two cents, and in some cases, you might want your change back.
Okay, here it is: When approaching a group of peo- ple, whether it be business or pleasure, always scan the group, pick out the most difficult person to pull out of the crowd, and focus on that one person. Don’t make fun of them, but make fun with them.
I would do this at the tables and I would get guys (most of the time the troublemakers are guys). I would get these gentleman that would do everything they could to avoid me, be rude, drunk, etc. I would start with them and chip away at them with my balloon skills and wit. I am not saying get yourself balloons and start making dogs, however, I will tell you I was pulling in a few hundred dollars in two days and four hours of work.
Have something in your bag of tricks and then make the toughest person laugh. From that moment on, the rest will be a cakewalk. For me, more than any other time of my life, I can say that my failures taught me how to be successful.
Okay, I am now in my 30s and feeling good about my path of least resistance. My purpose in life was to be the best person I could be by having morals and ethics, being honest, and helping others. Then out of nowhere, I started getting family members and friends to notice what I was doing and they began making comments like, “Why do you try to help everyone?” or, “Why would you stop in the rain and help someone fix a tire? Maybe there is something wrong with you.”
Of all the humorous lines I could have written, I never thought the line, “What is wrong with you?” would make me laugh, but it did.
My trying to help folks and be a better person, made the ones I love think I was nuts, or dysfunctional. Here I was thinking I was climbing out of my childhood dysfunction and bam! I was in my 30s, still dirt-poor and the only thing to my name was what I believed in, and it was being questioned.
So, for a good five years, I pondered this thought that maybe what I was doing and why I was doing it, might have been coming from a hidden agenda.
Then it happened. After all of my work and pound- ing of the pavement to get a job in the field I love, I got the dream job I wanted (at that time). After 10 years of trying, the job as the Fox Kids Club host in California was finally mine. That is another story that I will tell you all some other time. All I will say to fill in some space is that all the self-work I did worked out for the best. I was able to apply all my morals and ethics, and helping people to good work.
During this time I was still doing theater, mostly musical theater. I did ‘Singing in the Rain,’ the Donald O’Connor role, “Make ‘em laugh, make ‘em laugh.” If you have not seen that musical and can stand a musical, watch it for that number alone. Anyhow, the next sea- son at this theater was a show called Will Rogers Follies: The Life and Times of Will Rogers. Now I won’t go into too much about the great man, only to say that this show and Will Rogers’ philosophy changed my life. Or, should I say, made what I was doing make sense.