SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 297: “His Epitaph – He Was A Good Guy!”

“My advice to the world is for people to just to be real, don’t be fake about what you do in life… but have a mission…! Just be the best person that you can be…! Don’t try to imitate anybody! There’s no time for that!”

And real is just what Andy is. The instant I meet him the energy is on, and there is no pretense about this new friend of ours. But exactly how do I meet Andy?

Well in reality, Andy sort of meets me upon contracting the company he works for to service our aging air conditioning unit.

In a world of shame artists and door-to-door cons, Andy stands out from the crowd as true, upright in energetic in his approach. I won’t say that the service was cheap, quite the opposite. And, even though we had to dig deep into our pocket for the repairs needed (due to a not so scrupulous contractor who originally installed our ducting), there is no other way to view Andy than that of a hard-working man who is doing his best to make an honest living.

Plus, as a self-employed professional myself, I have a soft spot for any person fighting to support themselves in this economy. Not that I am looking to be scammed, but to pay a premium for work that is prompt and of quality, I’ll always lean to do my part in supporting the living of another human.

In a strange and immeasurable way, I have always been blessed by following “the what goes around comes around” theory. So why change now, when things are tough? Perhaps that’s the best time to put the theory to the greatest test. We’ll know for certain when recession ends… I guess.

Andy speaks of his needs, “If you just have enough money to live under a little roof, and have a decent job, to be able to support your family… that’s good enough. Don’t ever let money be a problem to live a happy life.”

In a world plagued with comparisons, envies and segregation, Andy has managed to find stable ground, “I know a lot of people… I’ve been around doctors… I’ve been around politicians… I’ve been around congressmen… I’ve been around dope dealers… I’ve been around gang bangers… I’ve been around missionaries… I’ve been around priests… I’ve been around ministers… I’ve been around professors, Stanford University… I’ve been around the people who make the pills and the drugs for the whole country… Even children… I’ve been around everybody… But I think that we as human beings have to learn… and know…! that we’ve just got to be better people… There is nothing else that I can say… We’ve just got to learn how to be better people. To just go forward… you know… in life. We can do nothing about it… Don’t look back… Don’t look to the side. I mean I could leave right now and maybe a bridge will fall down when I’m on the freeway, waiting!”

Andy has the enthusiasm of an over caffeinated sports fan, yet in his powerful confidence there lays a peaceful subtext. He verbalizes his ethic. “Love is a very special word, that a lot of people know what the definition is, but it’s not engrafted, engraved or crafted into their lives. I think that if all mankind could really know and practice what love really is, this would be a Different City…! County…! State…! And even a Nation!”

Wow! at first impression, Andy is a man’s man. Confident, extroverted, strong of opinion and ready to take the lead in any conversation, the kind of guy that many would call intimidating or aggressive. But as you get to know him, you can see a spark of life in his eyes. A light, that as we chat, Andy comfortably and enthusiastically reveals… he speaks of the greatest motivator, Love.

People are amazing, And to be sitting in my office, unexpectedly having another one of those life changing conversations with an absolute stranger (well vendor) now turned friend; discussing the meaning of love is a very remarkable experience in deed, another confirmer that none of us know what is in the heads of another until we take the time to inquire or at least acknowledge the other.

I ask Andy about the future.

“A lot of people are asked that question… ‘What’s to come…?’” he begins, “…It’s unfortunate that we as human being, you and I, and this beautiful woman that sits in this room with us, which is your precious wife (my wife is on the other side of the room, listening in as she works on a rushed design project), I think that we are fortunate that we can have life. Think about that…!

…Because I have a lot of friends that didn’t have that opportunity… They got stabbed to death… they got shot to death… they’re in prison for the rest of their lives… some of them have gotten killed in prison… you name it.

But we’re fortunate that we have that opportunity to think about the future. And I don’t only think about the future, but I KNOW! that our future is in the creator’s hands. There is no doubt about it… It’s not a Martian… It’s not a UFO… It’s not what Russia thinks about the future… It’s not what the USA thinks about the future… It’s not what man thinks about the future!

The only future that we have, is a divine future… A future that comes from God, the creator of all mankind… That’s where our future stands.”

Turns out that Andy is a man of great faith, and from the case studies that he puts forth, I kind of get the feeling that he has earned his faith by painful trials of life. It is apparent that Andy is on the right side of the track in his life decisions. And to occupy space with him is to spend time with a man of great conviction. He emits the kind of empathy that makes one examine their place on the planet and their outlooks on the world around them. And although seemingly brash and bold, Andy is a man of impactful humility. The kind of man you want next to you in battle. The kind of guy that you want to say, “Watch my back!” Even with the $750 budget hit for vacuuming, duct tape, zip ties and re-routing. Something that I happily accept, after all… a man has to make a living.

Andy reflects on his personal future and encourages us with a popular phrase from the seventies. “Now that we have life in our hands… we just got to keep on trucking…” he smiles.

“How?” You might ask.

Andy answers, “Just love one another.”

“What about you Andy, where do you want to be in the future?” I ask.

“I just got to be a better person.” Like I said, beneath Andy’s shell of ceaseless momentum is a core of the most valuable commodity… Humility.

I ask one last question, “If that bridge does fall on you when you are stuck in traffic, and your time came to leave the planet, what would your epitaph read…?”

We laugh for a while, make a few jesting suggestions and finally settle on one.

Per Andy, “That maybe a lot of the people that I know, might say, ‘He was a good guy!”