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Improvise!
O Hayes Odyssey
I have occasionally known people for whom working a job is just a break—a temporary setback. Oliver is one of those men, a born entrepreneur with a scathing disdain for the slave mentality he encounters in everyday life.
“I was born in Kingston Jamaica and came here as a boy. My father was Jamaican and my mother English. My family in England says blacks get treated better over there, but there ain’t shit over there. Jamaica is just crazy. I’m going down there this summer to straighten out something for my grandmother, who some people are not dealing squarely with. I’m not going alone. I have citizenship in all three counties, so I have thought about drifting, picking up and moving as the places fall apart.
“My cousin came to America with me—the same age. His mother got a six-figure job right off the bat. My mother struggled but did well, as did my father, but he’s not all about supporting the family.”
[Oliver has custody of both of his children, mentors his two little sisters, buys his mother a car when she needs one and fixes it when she breaks it, and has just bought his oldest younger sister a car, having assumed a patriarchal role for himself in a society where that is taboo for a man of his race.]
“When you come from Jamaica the schooling here is so bad, so primitive, that it’s actually hard to fit in. My older sister was twelve and tested out at college level. What did they do—put her in her age grade so she could suffer with all of those dummies. I don’t believe in school and refuse to send my children to pre-school. I’m teaching them to read myself. Hopefully I’ll do well enough in business to school them myself and avoid the Stupidity Factory.
“You know, I’ve come to the conclusion that adults who believe that street-fighting is a good idea have something wrong with their minds. But when I was a kid, and I first met a white person, I was shocked to discover that people outside of the black urban environment do not fight all of the time! It was a real wakeup call. Like, ‘Wow, no wonder we don’t have shit!’
“My cousin had everything, grew up with all the best clothes, latest video games, most expensive sneakers under the Christmas tree. Me, I didn’t have shit. When we were thirteen I go to the dollar store with him and he tries to rob it! Tries to stick up the clerk, without a gun, when he doesn’t have a want in the world. It is as if society told him he is supposed to be a jackass and so he does.
“I have this friend who is the opposite—same thing, no father in his life—with a mother that looks like Mike Tyson, who either beats his ass or babies him. We’re in his car and he runs out of gas and wants to call his mother! ‘Are you kiddin’ me, Nigga!’ I said, ‘Motherfucker, improvise! Get out and walk to the gas station.’
“Everybody I know, they step out from their mother and know they can return if it doesn’t work out. For me, that’s unthinkable. I’m a man. I’ll be homeless before I live as a boy again. But most of these motherfuckers don’t care, they just want to be violent boys, who can’t even fight their way clear of a serious situation. It’s a recipe for disaster.
“I was broke with no job and only twenty bucks. I bought an auto part, refurbished it, and sold it for two hundred, then kept trading up until I got a car without a hood, and sold that bitch twice—repossessed it from the one non-paying motherfucker and sold it again. I just don’t see how you submit to being a woman’s bitch.
“I used to believe the axiom “niggers can’t have shit,” even when I was selling cars for these thieves that were ripping people off. I knew I was going to have to quit that business because it was unethical, so invested in this one customer’s real estate business after he bought a vehicle with a bag of money—fifty-grand in a bag. That guy convinced me that I can make it. If I go back into selling cars it will be on my own. I always make 500 percent or more on a car. I want to work up to where I can buy a house on a property big enough to hunt on, and I’m not going to do that blaming the world and doing stupid shit.
“The problem is making money takes up time you need for important stuff like fighting and training and reading and writing. So it’s like a long slow tunnel to the other side. How is it on the other side, James? How did stepping away from earning work out for you?”
[To paraphrase and condense my answer: Great, but was only possible after getting my sons off into the world, and I read over 2,000 books while immersed in the working world, and learned things about people while there, so it was not a wasted effort, even in existential terms.]
“Thanks, James. That really helps. Measuring my means and my aspirations gets tricky sometimes. Hopefully this latest venture gets me the income and the time to support my family and work on what matters. I’m looking forward to reading with my kids, them reading a book while I’m reading a book, and discussing the subject matter.”
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Add Comment
SeanJanuary 12, 2016 1:03 PM UTC

Great read. It's nice to see men do exist on the other side of the aisle.