|Hammer has questions|
The older I get, the more easily I find myself becoming distracted. I'll start on one task, switch to another, get interrupted and then go on to something else entirely different. A while later - might be an hour, might be a week - I'll wonder what happened to that first task I was working on.
It's why I love Saturday mornings at the worldwide HQ of the media empire your little-newspaper-that-could has grown into. Things are quiet. The only interruption is when I am forced to belt out a tune when my playlist hits an oldie but goodie and I just can't stop myself.
In fact, it was exactly one of those blasts from the past that was blaring from my speakers when I had to take a quick bathroom break. Blood, Sweat & Tears' David Clayton Thomas was singing about going down gamblin' as I sashayed my way around the desk, two-stepped to the door and was moving and grooving to the music when -
"Dance much, Timmons?" the mountain of a man John Hammer asked.
"Son of a-"
I'll admit that I've lost some weight and am in better shape now, but hey, a bad heart is a bad heart and one day the staff is going to find me Monday morning on the floor because Hammer literally scared the life out of me.
I don't know how he manages to get into our dark and locked office on a Saturday, but he does. If you've never met him, I've often described him as big as a grizzly bear with a voice James Earl Jones would envy. His face shows the deep lines earned over a life of hard work and he possesses common sense that previous generations were blessed with. How he gets around that quietly is beyond me.
I looked up at the big man and didn't even waste my breath on the usual questions about how he got in. "What can I do for you, John?"
"I got a few questions for you, Timmons."
He pulled a piece of paper from the pocket of his flannel shirt.
"I wrote 'em down because I didn't want to forget any. I think this is important."
He had my attention.
"First, do you remember a national election where we didn't feel like we were choosing the lesser of two evils?"
I was going to answer, but he didn't wait.
"Do people look up to and trust the government?
"Do you think too many people are dependent on government aid who shouldn't be?
"Does anyone feel like the government treats our money with great responsibility?
"Do we as a people have the discipline to spend our money responsibly, or is personal debt spiraling out of control?
"Is our national debt completely out of control with very little way to get it back?
"Is the argument about who can / should use public bathrooms completely nuts?"
I so wanted to respond to that one.
"And last one, Timmons. Do any of these have positive implications for the long-term health of our nation?"
He looked at me.
"Timmons, I don't care how you answer these. There's no individual answer. But I can tell you this. There is a national mood. And right now, because of the answers to these and other questions, that mood's not good. It might be as bad as I've seen since the 1960s. Somehow, someway it's got to get fixed or the outlook for the future is as bleak as it's ever been."
With that the big man walked away.
It always amazes me how much I underestimate John Hammer. He's much deeper and far more thoughtful than I typically give him credit for. He's like a lot of people in our country. He may not say much but he sees and hears a lot . . . He listens mostly and doesn't say much. But when he does, he makes a lot of sense. I hope others are listening.
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