There were guys I grew up with who were just plain cool.
Here are four of those qualities:
1. They had the spirit of good ole fashion American rebelliousness.
There was this guy I knew while we were Mormon missionaries in Argentina. He was a leader in the mission, but he had an attitude. If we were expected to address each other by our last names, he would address me by my first name. We weren’t to cuss. He let off with some damns, hells, etc. Yet, he was the top baptizer in our mission.
One time the mission president asked me who I thought was the best missionary in the mission. Without hesitating, I said this missionary was. He responded, “But he’s kind of wild.” I said, “Yeah, that’s why I love the guy.” Next week the mission president made him the assistant to the mission president in charge of all the missionaries.
Confession: My wife and I were fairly strict Mormon parents. But, honestly, I admired it when my children showed some pluck.
2. They made the little guy feel important:
There was this guy who was three years older than me. His name was Mike. He was the toughest guy in our local high school. I was in ninth grade at a junior high school. For some reason, when I passed him at the mall or at a get together, he was very cordial to me, always calling me by my first name.
My buddies would ask me if I knew him. No I would say. I’ve never met him.
Then there was this one night I was walking home and Mike drove up in his 48 decked out, lowered Chevy, and asked me if I need a ride home. I looked inside the car and one of the people, whose name was Tom, was sitting shotgun. He had been hassling me for some time in my neighborhood. I looked at Tom and begged off.
Mike, noticing I was skittish about Tom, said, “Tom make room for Roger. Get in in the back seat. Roger, no problem, get in.” I got in on the shotgun side. Tom never hassled me again.
Mike was a hard guy, but a genuinely nice guy. They exist. How can you not admire someone like that?
3. They balanced the scales.
Once I was asked to write a report as a management consultant. I was asked by the CEO to do it, and to work with this other consultant whom I had never met. We worked together for about three months and delivered the report to the CEO. While copies of the report were handed out in a meeting with all the top executives, the title sheet only had the name of the other consultant on it. The other consultant had omitted my name. I was shocked, but couldn’t say anything about it while the meeting was going on.
At the time, the CEO didn’t say a word about the title page, nor did he ask me if I had done any work on it.
About a year passed and another report was to be written. It was an extremely expensive report. The CEO called me up and asked me to take the project. I was the only one he asked. He never said a word to me about the first report, nor did he include the other consultant in any other major projects.
He had a sense of fairness, and eventually balanced the scales.
There are those kind of individuals who take notice of wrong acts at the moment they occur, but act passively at the moment, but eventually tip the scales to make them fair. Those are the kind of people I learned to trust.
4. They age well.
I had been consulting for this guy (Jack) for close to two decades. After that period we went our separate ways after he retired.
As is almost always the case in life you spend a season or two with a person as you’re growing up, but once that season is over, you go on and rarely ever hear from that person again.
But, this particular guy stayed in contact with me. He even planned new activities to keep us in contact. Those activities were planned by him; and his first order was to create them so that my interests would be met.
A guy like that is unique among all the guys I’ve known.
He was good then but he’s even better now. He’s aged well.