The Impermanence of Man

Popeyes Chicken located in Gadsden, AL

I was reading away on the Comey hearing yesterday when a story from my WordPress feed made me stop in my tracks.  In the day to day hustle and bustle of living, we tend to forget how fragile or impermanent life truly is for all of us.  The story in question dealt with an Alabama inmate that was scheduled for execution yesterday.  Additional search revealed that the inmate was indeed executed last night, pronounced dead at 10:27 CST.

This isn’t an essay over whether the death penalty is right or wrong.  This is a reflection upon life itself, and I’ll explain.  Here’s how the story began on April 15, 1994.

GADSDEN, Ala. — Three employees of a fast-food restaurant were herded into a walk-in cooler and shot to death early Saturday, police said. A fourth worker, wounded and left for dead, crawled to a phone and called police.

Less than two hours later, police arrested two people and charged them with capital murder. One of the suspects had been fired Monday from the Popeye’s Famous Fried Chicken restaurant, police Capt. Jimmie Flanagan said.

Cuhuatemoc Peraita, 17, and Robert Bryant Melson, 22, were arrested in an auto that was stopped by police in nearby Rainbow City, Ala. Peraita reportedly had been fired for excessive absenteeism, police said.

Flanagan said robbery was the apparent motive. “Money was taken and recovered,” he said. He did not disclose the amount.

Officials said Peraita was being charged as an adult under a state law signed Thursday by Gov. Jim Folsom, which allows authorities to execute people as young as 16 if they are convicted of a capital offense.

The restaurant was supposed to close at 11:30 p.m. Friday. Authorities said they believe that the shootings occurred sometime after midnight.

Killed were Tamika Collins, 18, Nathaniel Baker, 17, and Darrell Collier, 23, the restaurant manager.

Police who arrived at the fast-food restaurant said they found the bodies of the three employees stacked on top of each other in the narrow, back-room cooler.

Bryant Archer, 17, crawled to a phone and called authorities about 12:30 a.m. He was taken to a hospital with multiple gunshot wounds in the chest and was listed in serious condition Saturday.

I don’t think I’ve posted anything about this here, as I don’t really talk much about this anyway.  The first job I ever worked was working for Popeyes in Rainbow City, AL.  The person that hired me was Darrell Collier.  From March of my junior year of high school in 1990 until the August that I started college in the fall of 1991, I worked there pretty much as a full-time employee.  We were a close-knit group among each other as well as with our sister locations, one of which was the Gadsden restaurant.  We had friendly competitions ranging from sales contests to an annual football game played on Thanksgiving Day that even included a trophy to the winning location.

Anyway, after I went off to college at Alabama State University, I’d sometimes come home and work on the weekends for extra cash and just to hang out with friends.  If I didn’t work, I’d still just pop in to see everyone and get caught up on news.  I would drive the two hours home and my first stop was usually Popeyes, where I would hang out until after closing was finished.  Then, we’d sit in the parking lot or go somewhere to get drinks or food.

April 15, 1994 started off like any other day for me.  It was awards day at ASU, and my mother drove down for the ceremony.  I don’t remember exactly what award I received, but the ceremony was over before noon, and my roommate and I were contemplating the drive home that afternoon.  I had told my mom that I was headed home before we parted company and she drove on to work.  My roommate and I loafed around for a while and eventually decided to wait and drive home early Saturday morning.  I can vividly recall making that decision because a thunderstorm popped up around that time, and that was part of the reason why I didn’t want to drive.  Anyway, the only two people who knew the change of plans were he and I unless he told someone himself.

Sometime early in the morning, I think around 2am, the phone started ringing.  Family and friends were calling to see where I was.  Once they found out I was in the room, they said okay and that was that.  I think it may have been the second or third call when my aunt was on the other end, I can’t remember for sure  Instead of just getting off the phone, she told me that there was a shooting at one of the restaurants at home, and she was checking to see if I had left Montgomery.  She worked at the nearby hospital and could see the flashing lights from all the emergency personnel from her building which was at least 1.5 miles away.

Her daughter worked at a KFC in the same area, and my aunt thought that the shooting happened at KFC.  Once she found out that it wasn’t KFC and was Popeyes, she was worried that I was there as I would have gone to Popeyes to hang out with Darrell.  At first, they had no idea of how many victims were there.  At that point, I understood why people were calling.  They thought that I was one of the victims.  See, not only did I know Darrell and hang out with him when I came home.  The shooter, Robert Melson, was a long-time friend and classmate of mine.

Robert and I went back to elementary school as far as knowing each other.  We played little league baseball on the same team, and attended school from first grade to graduating high school together.  We didn’t run in the same exact social circles, but the town isn’t so big that circles don’t overlap.

I know that, without a doubt, I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for that decision to not drive home that night.  I cried when I got the news as I couldn’t imagine what they went through in those moments that night.  I drove home for the funerals, but I didn’t have the strength to attend.  Just being home was all I could do.

When I came home for that summer, I switched from working in the Rainbow City location to the Gadsden restaurant.  I continued to work at that location until I left Popeyes for good after I graduated college in 1996.  It was surreal to enter the location and see where my friend had lost his life.  Even though they tried to repair everything, you could still see where the bullet holes were in the freezer.  I had recently met Tamika before the robbery, but I did not know her well.  I didn’t know the other two at all.  I still mourned their deaths as though they were family as we were all a tight-knit group.

After reading about Robert’s execution last night, I looked around me.  I have a nice home, a beautiful wife, three amazing kids, and so much more going on.  The political crap that’s going on in this country can take a break.  Sometimes, it is good to just sit back and realize how little time we really have in this world.  I feel like I’ve been living on borrowed time for more than 23 years now.  I don’t know what God has planned for me to accomplish, but I do know that I haven’t achieved that goal yet.  He has made sure that I’m still here, and that is something that I don’t take for granted.  Maybe that is something that more people should think about instead of worrying about who lied and who didn’t.  There’s always tomorrow to deal with the political crap.  Take a break and enjoy your life today.  You never know when it’s your last day to do so, so why wait?

Enough is enough 2016

Is it just me or has the Grim Reaper gone into straight “Honey Badger” mode in 2016?

Within the last three days, we’ve lost singer George Michael, comedian Ricky Harris, and now actress Carrie Fisher.  Let’s not even try to run down the other celebrity deaths over the past year.

It’s not just celebrities either.  There’s the Russian military plane crash, the Bolivian plane crash in Colombia, and other mass casualty events.  Add the number of everyday deaths, and I’m beginning to wonder if the Grim Reaper is trying to set a new high score.

The celebrity deaths stick out because of the news reporting though.  The award shows for next year may very well turn out to be two-hour long memorial tributes with an award or two handed out in between segments.

 

If I were famous, I would be sitting on pins and needles while waiting for 2017 to arrive.  I’d even consider hunkering down in the Cheyenne Mountain fallout shelter.  Then again, that could end up becoming a tomb as well.  Doesn’t appear that the Grim Reaper really cares about when and where he does his business.  Those assistants to the stars are probably all packing aspirin, epi pens, automatic defibrillators, and first aid kits with them at all times just to be safe.  Hurry up and get here 2017 before we lose many more.

It is finished

It’s Friday night, two days before Christmas, and the one phrase that has been going through my mind all week is “It is finished”.  It’s been a long week full of twists and turns, but it’s almost over.  After this one ends, however, another one begins.

Monday, the Electoral College electors met in their appropriate state capitals and cast their votes for the 45th president.  Of course, this was basically an exercise in formality as we already knew who would be voted as the next president.  My first thought on Monday was “it is finished” because I wouldn’t have to hear any more about this damned campaign.  This is my 7th presidential election that I’ve voted although I remember them all the way back to Reagan in 1980.  This is the first one where I have not seen people defend their choice proactively.  Instead, every defense I’ve seen of electing Trump devolves into some rant about Clinton or Democrats.  What does it say about our incoming president when not even his voters can affirmatively defend their choice less than two months after making it?  Buyer’s remorse already?

Tuesday, I took the youngest to the doctor because he was sick.  The test results showed a positive Type-A flu AND positive for strep.  So, for the past few days, I’ve been playing daddy doctor trying to get him back into fighting mode.  We have a date with the TV, snacks, and Alabama Crimson Tide football on New Year’s Eve, so there’s no time to get sick now.  Today was probably the best day as he only went into whine and shut down mode only once.  Well, it doesn’t matter because I’m going back to work tomorrow since mommy is off.  He should be back to full strength for her (bless her soul).  Nah, he’s really a good “big boy” as he calls himself as he’s not a baby anymore.

Then, there was the video making the rounds of the mother and daughter getting arrested in Fort Worth, TX after they called the police to report her 7-year-old son getting choked by a neighbor.  They were charged with resisting arrest, but I’m still scratching my head as to what the initial charge would have been for there to be an arrest to resist.  Maybe I’ll ask my family members who patrol the streets to see if they can help me out with this one.  I always find it hard to grasp getting arrested for resisting arrest when you haven’t done anything to get arrested for in the first place.  Had that been my 7-year-old son, the charge would have probably been aggravated assault or something worse.  Anyone who has the testicular fortitude to put their hands around the neck of any of my children had better be ready to deal with me once I arrive on the scene.  It’s going to be a long and detailed discussion about the who, what, where, when, and why.

Finally, I came across a…  umm…  I don’t know what to call it other than an opinion piece written by Chris Kluwe in regards to his feelings about the incoming president.  If anyone in America honestly feels like they don’t have any f**ks left to give at this point, it’s probably because Mr. Kluwe used them all.  Seriously.  After reading his post, I went to Amazon.com and put an order in for a case of f**ks.  I received an automated response that they were on back order because of Chris Kluwe.  I understand his feelings, but at this point, “it is finished”.  We can’t un-elect Trump.  We can only ensure that our actions help those who need help while trying to make sure those running the country doesn’t screw things up.

For those who follow the life and teachings of Christ, they should remember the last words he spoke before he gave up the ghost on the cross.  In the book of John Chapter 19, the story of the crucifixion is laid out for all to read.  His last words were written in Verse 30, “It is finished”, according to the King James Version.

After going through all I did this week, after seeing and hearing all that came before me, I realized that this is just the end of one phase and the beginning of the next.  I have my anxieties for the future.  I worry about the effects that the potential future changes will have on my friends, colleagues, and even my family.  I won’t allow myself to get discouraged by thinking about the future though.  I’ll just roll up my sleeves to get ready to tackle next week because that one isn’t finished yet.

Thanks for reading as always.  I know there are lots of different blogs to read, but I really appreciate those who take the time to stop by and read my vents and musings.

Have a safe and wonderful:

 

  • Saint Nicholas Day (Christian)
  • Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexican)
  • St. Lucia Day (Swedish)
  • Hanukkah (Jewish)
  • Christmas Day (Christian)
  • Three Kings Day/Epiphany (Christian)
  • Boxing Day (Australian, Canadian, English, Irish)
  • Kwanzaa (African-American)
  • Omisoka (Japanese)
  • Yule (Pagan)
  • Saturnalia (Pagan)

Just want to make sure I don’t forget anyone or leave anyone out.  If you don’t celebrate holidays, then just be safe anyway.  There is far too much crazy going on in this world to not be cautious.

 

I support #BlackLivesMatter

I came across this on a message board that I frequent. I couldn't think of anything better to show the disconnect many display with their sloganeering.

I came across this on a message board that I frequent. I couldn’t think of anything better to show the disconnect many display with their sloganeering.

I’ve debated writing this for a while.  Given the media’s insatiable appetite for sensationalism, I have too much on my mind and heart to not write it now.  So here it goes….

*please bear with me if I get long winded…

First and foremost, I am 100% American.  My ancestors arrived on American soil in the late 1790s.  Yes, I am Black, and my ancestors arrived here from Africa.  I wear Blue as do many of my friends and family members.  I support #BlackLivesMatter.  I support them just as I support any other American individual or group that wants their rights respected and protected.  Also, just as any other American person or group, that support is not unconditional.  I don’t suffer foolishness, intemperance, or criminality.

#BlackLivesMatter is not racist, nor are their motives steeped in racism.  To the politicians, talking heads, and media outlets that only seek to portray them or label them as such, look at that photo at the top.  They are not the racists.  They are simply asking that their rights be respected and protected just as yours are.

I’m sick and tired of the single-sided portrayal of Black people by the media and politicians.  It’s constant jibber jabber of how Black on Black crime is rampant.  It’s how Blacks are prone to being criminals.  You constantly hear about inner-city crime and poverty.  That is not Black America.  We are more than what you hear on TV.

We are doctors, surgeons, nurses, and administrators.  We are lawyers, judges, paralegals, and stenographers.  We are astronauts, scientists, and engineers.  We are professors, principals, teachers, and secretaries.  We are workers, managers, vice presidents, and even CEOs.  We are carpenters, electricians, brick masons, farmers, and other laborers.  We are not simply a page full of crime statistics and poverty.  So, PLEASE quit trying to portray us as a single monolithic crime statistic.

I support #BlackLivesMatter because I listen attentively.  I hear what they’re asking, and I understand why they’re asking it.  Perceptions shape reality in many instances, and the reality is this.  Many Americans in the public and prominent positions to positively or negatively affect others tend to negatively portray Black Americans.  The continuous negative portrayal is ingrained into the daily lives of others to where there arises a bias against Blacks.

I’m not accusing people of being racist, and this is where the disconnect arises.  Some people jump to the assumption that claiming that Black Lives Matter is a racial claim that Black lives are more important than everyone else.  That is not what the movement is claiming or attempting to put forth.  They’re simply saying that Black lives matter TOO.

When we don’t see or address our biases, we react to things without understanding or realizing how our reactions are received by others.  That image above is the perfect example.  If you suggest that all lives matter, then you should have no problem with supporting the statement that Black lives matter because Black lives are indeed a subset of all lives, right?  If you support Blue Lives Matter, would you say that you’re support means that firefighters don’t matter?  I don’t know of a single person who supports law enforcement who would ever agree to that.  Yet, yelling Blue lives matter to someone who suggests Black lives matter is exactly what you’re doing.

Every single American should support #BlackLivesMatter if you sincerely believe the U.S. Constitution is there to protect our rights.  If we don’t protect the rights of a subset of Americans, then the Constitution fails to protect us all.  It’s not a matter of treating someone better than others.  It’s simply treating us all one and the same.

If your response to #BlackLivesMatter is to segue into Black on Black crime, then why not address White on White crime?  To do that is to do what I talked about above, which is to claim that all Blacks are criminal.  #BlackLivesMatter is asking for law enforcement to NOT treat us all as criminal.  How many White people can tell multiple stories about being stopped, patted down, or hand cuffed because they “resemble” a wanted person?  Now ask that same question to Black people.  Both racial groups commit crime.  Both racial groups are arrested for committing crime.  Let the media tell it, we Blacks are disproportionately arrested for criminal activity.  Now, think about the question about being stopped and ask yourself who’s being stopped more?  Why would Black people NOT be disproportionately arrested for criminal activity when they are disproportionately stopped or detained for criminal activity?

I won’t make a claim that there is no crime in inner cities.  It’s there.  The citizens look to the police to protect them from criminal activity, so why people think Black people hate the police is beyond me.  If that were the case, Black people would be more like Charles Bronson and applying vigilante justice in the inner cities instead of asking the police for better protection.

Take Chicago for example as it’s the conservatives favorite whipping post in relation to this topic.  Chicago has a serious issue with violence.  Gang issues are rampant just as the gun violence has people on edge.  Now answer these questions.  Where does the drugs and guns originate?  Where are the marijuana farms, meth labs, or cocaine labs in Chicago that produce the drugs found on the streets?  Where are all the guns being purchased that end up shooting and killing the residents of Chicago?  They don’t originate there, and Chicago pays a heavy price for their importation into the city.  As much as you hear people clamoring about the number of shooting victims in Chicago, you never hear of them offering any suggestions on how to decrease the gun trafficking that leads to the high number of incidents.  When you hear people talk about the drug and gang issues, there are never any ideas given on how to decrease the drug trade or how to improve the economic situation of the inner city to lessen the appeal to sell drugs to make a living.

THIS is why Black lives matter.  It’s all about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  If you only see a criminal when you see me, then you don’t know me.  If you support policies like Stop-and-Frisk because you think it helps, then you don’t value my 4th Amendment right against unlawful search and seizure.  If your knee-jerk reaction is to shoot me because I tell you I’m armed, you don’t respect my 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.  If you advocate for policy or legislation that restricts my right to vote, then you show that you don’t care about my Constitutional rights.

Black America doesn’t want special treatment.  Black America wants to be American.  That’s it.  No more.  No less.  That’s why I support #BlackLivesMatter.  If we allow any single group’s rights to be trampled, then we are not American.  I am 100% American, are you?

Is it time yet?

It’s always claimed after a national tragedy that “it’s too soon” to talk about whatever needs to be discussed.  With 50 dead and 53 injured, is it time to discuss ways on how to minimize the threat to the safety of ALL Americans within the confines of our own country?

After reading the comments of numerous political asshats, I think this is all I’ll post for now.  I do have a job to protect, and I don’t want to say anything out of anger that will jeopardize my employment.

To those affected by the shooting at Pulse in Orlando, please accept my heartfelt condolences, prayers, and wishes for healing.  At this point, I don’t think there’s anyone that was hurt or killed that I personally know, but there were numerous people in the club that were either family or friends to people that I know or talk with online.  This attack feels much more personal because of that.