Ever heard of groundhog day?
“You’re so fucked!” This was the 47th day in a row I had been awoken by this statement and the glare of the fluorescent light that came along with it. I begrudgingly sat up in bed as the 6’5” giant that was standing in my doorway came into focus. He had the same expression plastered on his face every morning; something between a grin of satisfaction and a silent chuckle of amusement.
“Big Wayne,” as he was commonly referred to, was not only my 3 AM alarm clock for work but also the man in charge of the motivational quote for the day.
At the time, I thought he was just doing it to fuck with me, which he probably was, but I later realized that it was also his unique way of saying that I had no idea how behind the 8 ball I was.
Let me give you a little back story on how I’d arrived here.
A couple months prior, I had just turned 18. While most people my age were on their way to college, I had a full-time job being a helpless degenerate who lacked life skills, enjoyed punk rock, and held the delusion that I was a “tough guy” destined for infamy. To illustrate my point, the day before my 18th birthday I had taken a few too many Xanax and was getting dangerously close to falling out too early.
I needed to snap out of it an knew exactly what would do the trick; cocaine…logically.
However, because I was unemployable and liked it that way, I didn’t have the necessary funds available. But no money, no problem! They probably won’t give it to me, so I’ll just take it by force …logically.
Without hesitation, probably due to my inebriated state, I “borrowed” a pistol from a source that will remain unnamed and, in true Jesse James fashion, demanded that this one would be on the house.
I had been careful to conceal my identity, so it all went smoothly.
As I drove away, I reached for my phone to call a friend and announce my graduation to criminal mastermind. My enthusiasm quickly dissipated when I realized that I had misplaced it, at the scene of the crime!
A few hours later, my father and girlfriend both received a phone call from the vendor. He was unamused and had no qualms about letting them know that I was a dead man.
After a nasty confrontation with law enforcement 24 hours later, I was on the I-10 freeway heading towards Arizona.
I would like to add that I lost that confrontation and, yes, it hurt, and deservedly so. I could feel the regret every time I hit the brakes. At my father’s suggestion, I was going to be living with a man named “Big Wayne,” until this robbery fiasco blew over. Little did I know that he would be implementing his own unique brand of “Boot Camp for Fuck Ups.”
Just for Clarification: Both of my parents loved me, provided for me, and did the absolute best they could with what they were working with.
Unfortunately, they were at a disadvantage because they loved me; and because they loved me, they cared about the way I felt. Enter: “Big Wayne.” Simply put, “Big Wayne” did not give a fuck about how I felt.
“Wow! Aren’t you a fuckin’ beauty?”
He smirked as he looked me up and down. I was standing in his doorway, shaved head, wife beater, pants sagging, and smoking a cigarette. My first impression was that “Big Wayne” had a commanding presence and also, undoubtedly, was not someone to be trifled with.
As I went to put my cigarette out on his porch I was startled by an assertive, “Hey!” I looked up, confused, to see a face with the same exact expression of confusion on it.
“What the fuck is wrong with you,” he asked.
“This isn’t your house, this is my house. Put your cigarette out in an ashtray!”
Given his enormous size, I did what he said. However, make no mistake about it, this concept, along with several others, were completely foreign to me. However, “Big Wayne” was going to have NO problem informing me of this every chance he got. As I discarded the butt, he said those magic 3 words that will live in infamy: “You’re so Fucked!”
This is when I realized things were going to change, by force, if necessary.
I didn’t and couldn’t realize it at the time, but “Big Wayne” was doing me a great service. He would have, perhaps, one of the most profound impacts on my life. He used his favorite phrase to remind me, at least once a day upon awakening, that I was in deep shit.
While I didn’t understand what he meant at first, I later realized he was referring to the way I perceived life, situations, relationships, commitments, and priorities.
See, “Big Wayne” used to be just as reckless and selfish as I was.
Actually, on a scale of recklessness, even the most hopeless of people I’ve met paled in comparison to him. He was the poster boy for a life that was going to end badly and he had zero skills to change the inevitable outcome; but somehow he managed to listen and follow direction long enough to build an incredible life for himself.
Someone had gone above and beyond to help him, and he was paying it forward to me.
He never told me that, thankfully, because at the time I would have told him to shove it up his…well…definitely not out loud.
What he did was micromanage almost every action I took and openly, frequently harshly, criticized it. Fortunately, his patience outlasted my stubbornness and, very slowly, progress was made. He questioned and critiqued my every action in hopes that if my actions changed, even if only out of fear of another lecture on acting like a human being, my thinking would evolve, eventually.
It started with basic things most humans should know.
He was, literally, at every turn telling me, promptly, how backwards my actions were. He taught me valuable lessons like: it’s your job to do your own dishes, make your bed, and clean up after yourself.
He convinced me that I wasn’t Jesse James after all and that shaving my head, wearing a wife beater, and sagging my pants wasn’t going to get me anywhere in life.
He questioned my thought process on not using ashtrays, no showing for work, and parking my car on the wrong side of the street.
He suggested that a girl willing to sleep with me on the first date (or at all at that point) was probably not girlfriend material.
He demonstrated this point, clearly, one morning when I awoke to him sitting on the edge of my bed staring back and forth between me and the girl I had brought home…and directly asking me, in front of her, if I had slept with her on the first date.
On a side note, I decided not to heed this warning, and within 48 hours, she was my girlfriend. A few days later, “Big Wayne” was all but pleased to illustrate his point by showing me a porn video he had found of her by simply Googling her name.
He was right, time and time again. I hated it but began to listen.
At first, the only reason I listened was because I attached significant value to not getting verbally assaulted by “Big Wayne.” Later, when I started behaving less like a barbarian, I discovered the true importance of what he had done.
He had, albeit by intimidation, imposed a level of accountability in my actions so rigid that, ultimately, it lead to a complete overhaul in my character and thought process.
Once this happened, opportunities began to open up for me.
I stopped making excuses and became reliable. I could suit up and show up on time wearing pants that fit my waist. I could think critically, for the most part.
I learned that adults keep their hands to themselves and to communicate, effectively, with others. I learned that people don’t like being manipulated and could accept that things didn’t always have to go my way. Just to name a few.
I can say, with complete assurance, that had I not crossed paths with “Big Wayne,” that I would, surely, not be the person I am today.
Some people need a little more of “Big Wayne” and a little less of “It’s going to be OK, you poor thing.”
What an interesting time we live in. Feelings are interpreted as facts and merit is assigned for simply participating. There’s more apprehension about offending someone or telling them something they might not like than genuine concern over the absence of reality. There seems to be a world full of people who are unable or unwilling to accept responsibility for their circumstances and misfortunes because blaming someone or something else is not only convenient, but trending.
I feel fortunate that “Big Wayne” entered my life when he did.
He had absolutely zero concern with the way I felt because he knew that if something didn’t change I would end up in a place where I felt I was completely outmatched by life without sufficient tools to deal with it. He taught me that the way I felt about a given situation or circumstance was inconsequential to the reality of it, and all I was called on to do was put my best foot forward. He taught me the value of not shrinking to adversity or accepting a participation trophy as “good enough.”
He took a mirror and held it up to me; relentlessly pointing out flaws in my makeup until I could see them clearly, regardless of my resistance.
Thankfully, “Big Wayne’s” patience outlasted my stubbornness.
Some people are far too concerned with how the truth might make someone feel instead of how its harsh reality might change or benefit the advancement of their life. In a world where feelings are becoming facts and victimization is at an all-time high, those that can take responsibility for the way they feel or act and respond in a principled way to the things outside of their control experience the most abundance and freedom.