Like A Machine

3 01 2011

In the beginning, the campaign was tough. Very tough.

I was a political novice, taking on the establishment. In those early days, I would often remark than I was, ‘going against the machine.’ It was a nice play at words and a poke at Florida’s machine vote-counting method.

Yes, I was opposing the very political machinery running Panama City. A true underdog in every sense. My opponent was a popular incumbent, whose family had a rich tradition in the restaurant business.

He was elected by a 40 percent margin and no one dared throw their hat in when re-election time came. Four years later, with the economy in shambles and having been chewed up and spit out by some of New York’s finest, I figured, quite simply, I had nothing to lose.

“Some of the best politicians are never elected, John,” Jim noted as we motored out of Monroe on a warm Thanksgiving morning.

Like the year before, we stopped at a Holiday Inn in Shreveport for the Turkey Day buffet. It was a blue haired crowd — the average age had to be hovering around 80. Some had canes, others walkers and this made navigating the buffet somewhat challenging.

Jim didn’t care too much for his peers. Most of his associates were younger. He preferred it that way. I was probably the oldest chap to make his vacation cut, for a second time no less.

And I was much wiser this go around. Knowing what to expect helps. Ever the engineer, Jim was resistant to change. We stopped in Dallas again on the second night, at the same high-rise hotel on the westside of Downtown, near Love Field. The Cowboys were playing in Arlington that day and as we checked in, the last shuttle from the hotel was departing with eager fans dressed in their best blue and white gear.

It had been a rough year for the Dallas Cowboys. Mounting losses had led to the head coach’s dismissal at midseason. There would be no playoffs this year for America’s Team. We watched the game in the room and I listened closely to Troy Aikman’s commentary. He was trying to be fair, despite his strong ties to Dallas. I admired that.

The Cowboys played well before eventually bowing to the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints. I’m often asked about my sports writing days and I usually remark about how those were the best days and nights of my life, little did I know it at the time.

I was a young ambitious reporter then. Not content with making 20 grand a year in a small Alabama town. The bright lights and ‘live and let live’ allure of the big city was too distracting. In Texas, it would eventually consume me.

Back in the Lone Star State, eight years later, I was ready to confront those bright lights again. So Jim and I headed down the Cedar Springs highway for a visit to the “Gayborhood.” Naturally, Jim had our evening itinerary already planned out, from the parking to dining and drinking.

Like a machine, that Jim.

And I was just a cog.





One response

4 01 2011
Don Harris

Note: not all engineers are resistant to change.

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