Tim Timmons | Crawfordsville, IN

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May 6, 2021

What color was dress? Don't ask Hammer

I was walking through the darkened front office area here at the worldwide headquarters of your favorite Montgomery County newspaper. It was mid-afternoon on a Saturday and for some reason, John Hammer popped in my head. It'd been a few weeks since I talked to him and as I pushed the button for the elevator it dawned on me that I made it through a Saturday without him scaring the bajeebers out of me.
Normally, the big man just shows up unannounced. No idea how he gets in. The doors are locked and we're on the third floor of a building with a bank, for crying out loud. As the doors started to slide open I was just putting some serious thought into how he-
My nose ran straight into a massive hulk.
"Timmons," the Hammer nodded.
"Jumping Jiminy Crickets, John!" I yelled. "Can't you just make a normal entrance like everyone else? Do you have to see how well my heart's working each time you come up here?" (I put my hand on my chest to check. I wasn't sure it was.)
As usual, Hammer didn't let me slow him down.
"D'ya know what Saturday was?"
Hammer's voice would make James Earl Jones jealous.
"National Cardiac Arrest Day?" I snapped.
"C'mon, Timmons. I just read you talking about the Civil Rights Act. What was Saturday?"
Try as I might, I couldn't get past wondering if I had any nitro pills handy.
"It was the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday," the Hammer growled. "Maybe you read the news about it, considering you work at a newspaper and all."
The man who is John Hammer never ceases to surprise me. Jim Croce sang that Big Jim Walker was as big and dumb as a man can come. But I suspected that the Hammer was a lot bigger, a lot stronger and had nothing in common with dumb. He's quoted philosophers, presidents and country preachers equally well. For a guy who looks like he's lived a rough life, he certainly has gotten a bunch out of it.
"Yes, John. If I can get my breathing back to where I can talk, I know about Selma, Alabama and the anniversary of-"
"Think it would happen today?" he interrupted.
"Of course not," I said. "That was about voting and-"
He's always one step ahead of where I'm going.
"I mean the passion, the conviction," Hammer said. "Think we still have it?"
It wasn't an easy question. It'd be tough to compare civil rights issues from a time where there were two water fountains in public places to today's world.
"Know what took up a lot of time on the Internet a week or so ago?" Hammer asked.
"Uh, searches on Bloody Sunday?" I guessed.
"What color a dress was," the Hammer almost spat. "It was a picture of a dress and not everyone saw it in the same color. It even made the news in print and on TV. Tell me something, Timmons, does that sound like a nation that has its priorities straight?"
"Well, I-"
"Of course not," he shot back. "Today, we're all about convenience and being politically correct and not questioning anyone or anything. And if we do question, then we're 'haters' or bad people. The only thing that exceeds being politically correct today is our apathy."
The elevator dinged. John had been standing in the door.
"Timmons, I'll tell you this. If we can't have some honest discussions soon, if our young people don't start worrying more about what their place in the world is more than the color of some dress or a video of a kitten on Facebook, if we as a people don't get back out to the polls, then I'm not sure where we're heading . . . but I am sure it's not very good."
The man called the Hammer stepped back as the elevator doors closed. His points hung around a lot longer.

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