Old School

Putting gas in the car at the no name discount station I was across from a guy who was a few years older than me. He had a black Hummer sporting 24 inch rims, I had my station wagon sporting mud. All of his gold teeth glittered when he smiled and said “good how you still go Old School”, referring to my backwards Kangol hat. I admired his truck. We cursed the government over the price of fuel, and finished about the same time. I told him I appreciated what he said, about Old School. We awkwardly lingered, each of us willing the other to speak.
His voice was quiet, pitched lower and less jovial when he said “course it depends how you break it down.” Our eyes met and we both started speaking at once. The words came quickly, we knew them by rote.

“Stand up for what’s right”

“Don’t forget who you are”


“Carry others when they fall”

“Be slow to anger”

“Don’t take any shit”

“Forgive completely”

“Give of yourself”

“Let the small stuff go”

“Never back-off when it counts”

“Love honestly and completely”

“Now is the time”

“And never be afraid” “And never be afraid”

He looked away, embarrassed maybe. I gave a little laugh and brought him back. “Keeping it real”, he said “that’s a ministry.” Then the four hundred pound man with the gold teeth and the gold chains hugged me. “Take care” we said. “You too” we said. And as he pulled away I saw his state issued “Clergy” license plate. It was so ironic. My sweater was zipped all the way, he hadn’t seen my collar.

by – Doug Mathewson