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Twisting all the bad things into good

Mar 10, 2012

The Other MJ

"You write about him as you remember him and then if  he came here I will remember him."
"We will see," I said.
   Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

           I walked along the train tracks near my house today.
           The tracks were a reminder.
           It hurts to think about, but I couldn't stop. I didn't even try.
           My thoughts have become something I no longer run from or chase away, no matter how morbid they may be.
           I kept thinking about what it must be like to walk those tracks into an oncoming train.
           This was something I had not thought about in some time.
           It hurts to think about, but I couldn't stop. I didn't even try.
           He deserved a few minutes out of my day.

           His name was Michael Jackson.
           Not that Michael Jackson. He was older.
           That's what he used to tell just about every caller immediately after he introduced himself.
           He was born in 1950.
           The reason I remember that is because every time he mentioned his birth year to a co-worker, he would look down the aisle at me, while he told them he was the same age as "Jimmy Mac's dad", and he would smile.
            He was a good man.
            His jokes were corny.
            His face would turn bright red when he would tell me about how disrespectful the president of our company had been to him.

            In October of 2003, the Florida Marlins were going to the World Series. I lucked out and got through to Ticketmaster and scored 6 tickets to Game 5 of the World Series.
            Michael failed to get through to buy 2 tickets for him and his son.
            I could see in his face how disappointed he was.

            A few days later, I decided that I would rather sell my tickets for 3 times what I paid, and use the money to go to Fantasy Fest in Key West to celebrate my birthday.
            A manager at work was going to give me $200 for each ticket that I had spent $67 on.
            She was going to use them as a prize for a sales contest.
            She came to my cubicle and asked how many tickets I had to sell.
            I looked down the aisle and saw Michael on the phone.
            I told her that I had 4 tickets.
            She brought me back a check for $800.
            When I saw that Michael was off the phone, I wheeled my chair backwards down the aisle to his cubicle.
            "Hey. Jimmy Mac. What's happening?"
            "Not much, buddy. Going to Key West this weekend for my birthday".
            "It's Fantasy Fest too, isn't it?" he asks.
            "Oh, yeah."
            "And you got the game Thursday night, then Fantasy Fest. That's gonna be a hell of a time."
            "Yeah, I'm not gonna go to the game though."
            "What about your tickets?"
            "I sold them to Amy. She gave me $200 bucks each. They're gonna use them for the sales contest. I figured that having my vacation paid for beat one baseball game. You ever find any tickets for you and your son?"
            "No. Any that I did find were like $500 bucks."
            "That sucks. Well, buddy, I only sold her 4. I kept 2 so you could go with your son."
            I wheeled myself backwards to my cubicle as if making his day didn't also make my own.
            "Jimmy Mac", he said with a huge smile.

            A few minutes later, he came over and leaned into my cubicle. He wanted to know if he could get me $200 at lunch and if he could give me the other $200 when we got paid next week.
            "Don't worry about the money until next week. Otherwise, I'd just end up blowing it over the weekend anyway. And you only have to give me what I paid for them, just don't tell anybody."
            He appreciated the offer, but insisted on giving me at least an extra hundred.
            "Mike, seriously. I don't care about making a profit off the company, but I didn't sell those 2 because I wanted you to be able to go with your son. It's one of those things you guys will remember the rest of your lives."
            He went back to his cubicle and immediately called his son. He told him that they were going to Game 5 of The World Series. Loud enough to make sure I heard, he told him that he got the tickets from his friend, Jimmy Mac, with a huge smile.

           I was always glad that I did that for him and his son.
           It made me feel good on that day in 1997 and on this day in 2012.
           A few years ago, I found out that Mike had gotten out of his car while waiting at a Boca Raton rail road crossing. He walked down the tracks into an oncoming train.

           I tried to find the date of his death online today, but all I came across were stories about the "other" MJ.       
           I can still see Mike's face and hear his voice.
           It still breaks my heart to know that he was so sad.
           It still kills me to wonder what was going through his mind that made him get out of his car, step on those tracks, and then never step off.         

            I walked along the tracks today with my headphones drowning out everything but my memories. Even though I was a safe distance from any train that might sneak up behind me, I could barely walk 5 steps without looking back.


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