A friend made a comment the other day, and I’ve decided to post based on his comment.
He told me that he’s been judged by his appearance and despite his long list of credentials and awards he hasn’t always been afforded the courtesies from some that those credentials might merit. I’ve been mulling this over for the last couple of days and I ran into The Mayor of Arrowhead Boulevard this morning and this essay of sorts was born.
The Mayor of Arrowhead Boulevard in Jonesboro, Ga. was never elected to his post. Some in the area may be unaware of his role in the community. Others rely on The Mayor to always be around – as that never changing background to their lives.
The Mayor always seems to be in the area when I need him. He’s willing to carry a package from the store to a car and happy to help to bring your laundry into the laundromat- he just might remind you to use bleach on your whites. He doesn’t help to earn a tip or a gift. He sees a need and offers his hands or back to help.
I’ve seen The Mayor flying his kite on a windy day, grinning like a kid. I’ve seen the mayor flying his kite on days when there wasn’t even a little breeze to inspire his kite to fly, yet he would persist, running as fast as he could, through the gas station parking lot and up the hill towards the strip mall looking back hopefully each time, believing that maybe this time the kite would take flight. I’ve see The Mayor running with the kite string trailing behind him with no kite attached, smiling it seemed, at the simple joy of running fast.
I usually see The Mayor on foot but sometimes he rides in style on his bike which he’s decorated in his unique fashion. He’ll park the bike then gladhand his constituancy, crossing and re-crossing Arrowhead Boulevard in order to greet everyone.
When I first moved to the neighborhood, I thought he was just another “slinger” working on the corner and because of my negative attitude, I didn’t really look at The Mayor. I dismissed him as a thug and barely spoke when our paths crossed.
This changed one Sunday morning when I arranged to meet a date on the corner (I don’t give up my address very easily) and while I waited, I watched The Mayor make his way across the street to where I stood.
Annoyed, I sighed audibly and The Mayor asked me what could be wrong with me on such a beautiful Sunday morning. He was so charming and complimentary that I just had to smile, and a friendship of sorts was begun.
We fell into an easy conversation and he held forth on the state of the economy, the political primaries, the state of Black America, and the neighborhood in general. He showed me photos of the woman who had his baby as well as a few of his child. He explained that a one night stand resulted in his little girl and he promised to “wrap it up” in the future.
I don’t know The Mayor’s whole story. I have an idea where he might live, but I’m not really sure. He’s always very clean and takes time in grooming his mustacheo, sideburns and beard. He dresses in his own style – sort of a hip-hop-hippie, a throwback to the flower children, with a Dirty South twist to make it interesting.
The little kids in the area give him respect and the older guys make a point to chat for a moment or at least stop and give The Mayor daps and a “whassup” to hold him down.
I’ve learned my lesson with The Mayor of Arrowhead Boulevard. No one should be judged before being given the opportunity to present themselves. There’s a beautiful soul under the hippie-thug I met and I would have missed out on the blessing of knowing the Mayor.