Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Last Blog Post - "Don't Be Safe"

This is a tough one to write, for emotional, physical, and coordination reasons....
A few months ago, I started having problems driving, walking, and accomplishing basic tasks.  After a quick trip to the ER,I was diagnosed with some nasty brain tumors.
So this is it, folks.....
Starting this website has been one of the best decisions I've ever made.  I't's gotten me politically involved, and has earned me friends and readers all over the world.
Im' gonna try really hard not go get too maudlin or sentimental here....

For the last 20 years or so, I've been responsible for running my company's morning Production Meeting.  I never figured out why I was the one to do it.   Perhaps it's because I'm the guy who hates meetings the most, and I was always able to keep the thing moving along at a decent pace.

Several years ago, some of our owners went to a trade show that featured some presenters from Disney.
The Disney people said that their #1 priority was to "Be Safe".
Well, that's bullshit.
Their #1 priority is to bring happiness to families everywhere" (you can look it up -- it's in their mission statement).
You don't dress a teenager up like Tinkerbell and zipline her from Cindederella's Castle to the top of The Matterhorn every night if your #1 priority is to be safe.
That's what you do if you want to be awesome.
Anyway,because of the report on the Disney speakers,  I got into a rut of saying "Be Safe" at the end of every meeting  It was our Amen,our dismissal, and our Benediction.  .  If I could take a "Do Over" on anything I've done at work in the last few years, it would be to come up with another closing line to use at the end of that meeting.

People once told my father that if he ever started growing and irrigating rice on his farm, it would poison the land.  Because of his decision to go ahead with a new rice  crop instead of cotton and sobybeans, I got to see The Colisseum in Rome.  I got to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.
Because Darrell Cooper Sr decided to have some "Entrepreneurial Seizures", I've had the glorious privilege of seeing the sun come up twice on the same day while flying over the Great Wall Of China.
So what should I have said for the last 20 years?
How about "Be Wise?"  "Be Cautious"?
I dunno.
But I'm now working with a very short clock, so to speak.  If I fit into the statistical norms, I've got anywhere from 15 to 18 months to be around.   I know that the first time I sat down with my daughter at a Blackjack table and saw her split 10's against a dealer Ace, that she would do just fine.  She was going to be ok.  She was going to terrify me, but she wasn't going to be held back by anything or anybody.
She will never (in TS Eliot
's phrase)  measure out her life with coffee spoons.  She's going to live it up to 11 every chance she gets.
So please don't ever, ever waste another minute of your wonderful life with "being safe"Take risks.
 Destroy your perrectly laid-out shop and put in a Specialty Department. (Hello Ray!!) Get involved in politics and put Mary Kelleher to work disrupting the most corrupt institution in Fort Worth  .Raise Hell.  Find some activists to associate with, and bang some pots and pans together in the street.  WIN the Fort Worth Gay Pride parade  and then wake up the nest morning to staff your booth at a gun rights show.  I promise you that if you ever get brain tumors everyone of of those beautiful people you meet will come see you in the hospital.
And yes, I'm very much aware that I'm one of the few people I know who has had to use a helicopter pilot as a designated driver.
That's part of the package.  (Yeah, there probably is some middle ground between getting drunk enough to see dead people and "Being safe".)
I'm writing this post with a head full of creepy-crawlies, and sorry for the lack of spelling, grammar, and coherence.
But folk, please don't ever, ever, ever waste your time in being too safe.
You know that idea you have of a better way to fix broken windshields?  Do it.  Start that business.  That book you've always wanted to write?  Those earrings you want to start designing to sell online?
Do it now.  Yeah, people might laugh.  Who cares?  There will always be people willing to wait in line to laugh at your ambitions.  Let them be the ones to be safe.
Whether you know it or not, you too, are working with a short clock.
If you can to one thing right now for me or for yourself, don't be safe.
It's been real.
Don't be safe.


Buffalo Pete said...

God damn it. And God bless you. And thank you for everything.

Thank you for your "Cats are Democrats, dogs are Republicans" post.

Thank you for your gift of taking mundane, everyday objects and events and making us squint at them until the hidden picture came out. Honest to God, dude, it's you more than anybody else who's nurtured that talent in me, I try to do that every day now. I have, on various occasions, been astonished at the miracle that is the stick-on handles in the Target checkout line, or infuriated at the needless socialist failure of a traffic jam. Because of you, I once read an entire book on the history of shipping containers.

Thank you for never being ashamed to heckle pompous, self-righteous douchebags.

God damn it. I'm fucking crying over here. Thank you for everything. Thank you for being a role model of fucking ballsiness. You've changed my life. You've changed the way I look at the world and conduct myself within it.

I swear to you I will not be safe. And in return, I ask this of you:

Give them hell. Get up early, stay up late, and give them hell. Give them as much hell as you can for as long as you can. Keep giving them hell until you can't anymore. Don't get fucking cheated.

And I won't either. Thank you.


JT said...

"Statistical norms"? What makes you think you should/will fit the norm? While I have the utmost respect for whatever decisions you have made about your treatment, there is a voice in my head screaming for you to fight. That hell you talk about raising? Raise that hell with the cancer in your head.

I am not family. I am not among your closest friends. I do, however, have a Dachshund of the Patterson line curled up at my feet, a constant reminder of you, your generosity (and chicanery). And I do, most of all, want more days for you. You are much loved, my friend.

Unknown said...

Allen...that was as fine an internet post as I have ever read. I will make sure that my children read it and I intend to spread it far and wide. I do not know which one of us will leave this planet first but I do know that we will see each other again one fine day. Keep the faith and fight like hell. The Lord will use your experience for I can tell, He has already started the process.

Jason said...

Hey... So sorry to hear your bad news. Enjoy your time, and thank you for everything. You have produced an amazing blog which has influenced a lot of people.

You are a brave man. Many thanks again, and all the best.

zbethwalker said...

Elizabeth said --

Have not seen you much of late. I still count you as one of my closest friends.
Remember that statistics are only statistics.

Simon Cooke said...

Shit that's both a hard read and a good one. Thanks for the blogging and shame I never got to Texas. Yet.

Simon Cooke said...

Shit that's both a hard read and a good one. Thanks for the blogging and shame I never got to Texas. Yet.

Lisa Bills Terrell said...

Two quotes that came to mind as I read:
There are three types of lies -- lies, damn lies, and statistics. ― Benjamin Disraeli
Statistics, likelihoods, and probabilities mean everything to men, nothing to God.
― Richelle E. Goodrich

Thanks for not being safe. Your brain is amazing, tumors be damned. Your heart is even more amazing. I pray you prove both of these quotes to be absolute TRUTH.

A SImple Man said...

Statistics are like nipples, they are there to be manipulated.

A SImple Man said...

Statistics are like nipples, they are there to be manipulated.

and one more thing said...

I found your blog today during a google search re: the star spangled banner. I've only read a couple of your posts, but I have enjoyed them. I then clicked to your most recent post and was sad to see that it would be your last gift of writing to your readers. I wish you well and I promise that I will step out of my comfort zone. No more being safe.

NickM said...

I am sorry to hear this news Allen but I take some heart that you are not going gentle in to that last goodnight.

Best of luck. You will be in my thoughts.

I'm about to start an OU (an excellent UK distance learning thing) which will formalise my ability in computing with an MSc. I will specialize in security.

Maybe my plans for the future are not what you want to hear now but I have dragged my feet for ages on this and I finally a couple of weeks ago decided to Go For It. To take a punt.

I mention this only because it seems apposite to your post.

Thanks for all your posts. I shall miss them. My thoughts are with you and your family.

Live free and die hard!

My very best wishes, Nick.

PS. I'm not going to gamble with your daughter!