The circumstances found me in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. The town I was leaving is known as the city beautiful and it showed. It was a tourist explosion and hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on the flowers whizzing by on I-4. As soon as we descended below the cloud line I felt better. The bitch who’d caused me to miss my original flight, my time in the “problem child” line was pushed out of my mind and there it was.
All I could think of were bad movie references, native band the Roots and those delicious cheese steaks that I’ve been known to have perfected. I wanted a beer, but since funds were lacking it seemed appropriate to buy food that would last me until I landed in my final destination.
In line at Route 66 Joe’s, Joe himself asked me what I wanted. He was eager to get my food cooking before the cashier could even catch up. All I could afford was a hot dog and a fresh lemonade (because somehow fresh lemonade was cheaper than water). The guy in front of me ordered an authentic Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich. I didn’t see them on the menu. They must’ve been on the expensive side.
I asked Joe if he could make me a baby cheese steak and he looked up at me, half offended, “they only come in one size.” The guy in front of me asked if I wanted to share his. I looked over at it and it was the size of a football. “You would do that?” “Yeah,” he said, “I can’t eat all that before my flight. I hope you don’t mind onions and hot peppers.” “That’s exactly how I like it.”
My funds were as safe as they could be. All I had to buy was the lemonade and we found a table not far from each of our terminals.
He was going to LA to work. His name was John and he was married, had two little boys and wanted nothing more than to hear what interesting things a young person like me was thinking about. I told him about the job I was seeking in Seattle. I told him about the jobs I had in Orlando. After hearing my explanations on why college didn’t happen for me he suggested I get an, “M. R. S.” “What’s that?” I asked. “A husband.”
I explained that I’d caught one of those and threw it back. He laughed. He listened. We ate and just as we were finishing he diagnosed.
“You need to own your own business and you need to hang out with people who own their own businesses so you can learn how to do it. That’s all you need. Well, that and confidence. Confidence is very important.”
I told him that it’s one of those things I don’t have much of and he suggested I watch people who seem to have it and emulate them until it comes naturally, that’s all that really counts. “Looking confident is very important, I mean.”
“Thank you,” I said.
Overhead someone called for what must have been his flight so he got up to leave. “You like clouds?” he asked. “Yeah, I love em,” I answered. “This one’s a miracle.”
He pulled out an iPhone and flipped through with a flick of his fingers to show me a picture of a beautiful cloud that looked like a bride overlooking the city.
And he walked away.