Leadership is broken because leaders are unbroken
I heard him before I saw him–the Boy-Man hustling to get on the #4 train.
The Yankee game had just ended, and Kyle and I were headed to Times Square so he could buy the newest Metallica CD at the Virgin Record store.
I couldn’t help but hear the Boy-Man as he and his buddy rushed for the train with us because he used the kind of language Boys use in a crowd when they want you to think they’re Men. The two Boy-Men ended up standing next to me, but I didn’t pay any notice to them when we first pulled out of the 161st Street station because my attention was attracted to a couple sitting in front of me. They were probably in their fifties and obviously in love in a quiet, gentle, understated way. He had thinning, wavy hair and a mustache, and was wearing a traditional blue blazer with a classy blue checked shirt that I really liked. She was dark-haired and dressed in black and smiled shyly at me when she saw I had noticed them. He had his arm around her shoulder and at one point she reached up and patted his hand as they exchanged a few words just for them. There didn’t seem to be any Boy-Man in him at all.
While I was enjoying this quiet reverie amidst the noisy clickety-clack of the #4 train, the Boy-Man swung into action. Literally. He began to do pull-ups on the overhead bar there for passengers to hold on to. Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down. Boy-Man had a hunky build and could really deliver pull-ups. Next, his buddy tried to match him, but couldn’t do quite as well. So Boy-Man cheered him on, shouting, “You can do it! You can do it!” like they were working out at 24 Hour Fitness.
This exhibition continued for several minutes and then Boy-Man turned and spoke to me. “Jimmy Carter,” he said. “What?” I replied. “You look like Jimmy Carter,” he responded. “Now that’s a new one,” I declared, “but I did eat a lot of peanuts at the game today.” Just about that time the gentle lovers got off the train. He smiled and quietly said something to Boy-Man, perhaps a word of encouragement, I’m not sure, but he was gracious and pleasant and I liked him even more.
Since standing is not my favorite activity, I exercised my senior rights and sat down in the recently vacated seats, much to the disappointment of Boy-Man and his buddy. They wanted those seats. C’est la vie! But then Boy-Man did something very surprising. He spotted a young woman standing a short distance away and he actually escorted her to the empty seat next to me. It was like he was an usher at a wedding. Amazing! Boy-Man was a gentleman. He must have a mother who taught him good manners.
But Boy-Man and Buddy weren’t through with me. Buddy challenged me. “How many pull-ups can you do? Bet you a dollar you can’t do any.”
How I wished at that moment I could have stepped into my personal phone booth and come out wearing a red cape with LFI emblazoned on my chest. Then I would have done100 pull-ups. Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh! Take that, Boy-Man! And Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh! Take that Buddy! Super LFI doing pull-ups on the #4 train.
But alas, there is no phone booth, and no red cape, and no LFI emblazoned on my chest, and no pull-up, and no whooshes. I just offered them the dollar up front, but they were kind enough not to take me up on the deal.
Just then Boy-Man hit me with another surprise. He held out his hand and said, “I’m Dave.” Huh! Boy-Man not only has a mother who taught him manners; he must also have a father who has taught him how to meet people. Amazing! “Hello, Dave,” I answered, “I’m Bill Lawrence.”