I Yam What I Yam

I do not pretend to be someone I am not, and I make no excuses or apologies for who I am. I even have a t-shirt with the caption, “I Yam What I Yam,” on it to prove my sentiment. The old shirt depicts the loveable Popeye character looking all “gangsta” by wearing a bandana, gold chain, and his trademark anchor tattoos inked on his gigantic forearms. I wouldn’t mind being loved and adored by everyone, but I don’t yearn for that. For many years now my motto has been, “there is no one better than me, and I am better than no one,” and I absolutely mean it. This concept may seem foreign to many since most people, especially in America, tend to place a great emphasis on one’s acquired wealth and social status. Surprisingly, my wife of many, many years didn’t think I whole-heartedly believed my creed until very recently. It’s perfectly alright just being who you are, instead of trying to portray yourself as someone you are not, unless of course you are a complete jerk then I would strongly recommend you not remaining who you are but aspiring to become a better version of yourself.

I know there’s an immense number of people out there who have more money than I do, some who are smarter and stronger than I am, and there may even be someone out there who’s better looking, but that certainly doesn’t mean they’re superior to me. In the same manner, those who apparently have much less than I have are in no way inferior to me. Even as far back as when I was in my early twenties (a long, long time ago) I didn’t buy into the whole notion of social status as so many others do. This was evident when one morning after church my family and I were having breakfast at a local restaurant, and we noticed a nearby significant ruckus going on. Just about the entire staff was scurrying around in the dining room as they prepared an immaculate spot for a particular customer and his family. The whispers could be heard, and the finger pointing could be seen as Daniel J. Krumm, Chairman and C.E.O. of the Maytag Corporation, entered the room. He had as much prestige at that time as anyone possibly could of had in our small town of approximately 15,000 citizens. I understood the importance of having a major manufacturer like Maytag in little old Newton, Iowa, but I didn’t understand why Mr. Krumm deserved better service than someone like myself who was earning a living as a maintenance man at McDonald’s.

Many years later I still believe we all deserve to be treated as equals. I am now at a point in my life where I’m much more sensitive to the hurting and less fortunate people around me, and I attempt to smile and make eye contact with them so they know I’m on their side. Once I was almost beginning to tire from patting myself on the back so often for not snubbing those less fortunate, but then sadly I became aware of my judgmental attitude towards a couple who frequented the same Starbucks where I spend many of my early morning hours. The gentleman is always dressed in business attire during the week, but even his weekend garb is more expensive than any clothing that I own. The lady, presumably his wife, is always wearing cute workout gear of some sort. Nary a hair on her head is ever out of place nor in any instance is her face not perfectly painted on. It appears as if her only job is to remain attractive for her mate. I can’t recall if their vehicles are two Mercedes’, two Lexus’, or one of each.

There is nothing wrong with the previously mentioned situation, yet I do find it difficult not to judge when I factor in the rest of what I have witnessed about the couple. I’ve actually heard the pair snickering, in their little corner of the coffee shop, and making snide remarks about all those coming through the store’s entrance who seemingly are not as well off as them. It is unmistakably clear the Starbucks’ duo consider themselves to be the pinnacle of success, and they apparently believe most others pale in comparison to them. It is for that reason I generally find it’s much easier to refrain from feelings of superiority toward those who obviously have less than to those who have more and visibly relish in that fact. Wouldn’t it be nice if those who felt superior would seek some humility and those who felt inferior would find some confidence? Then maybe one day we could all feel equal to one another as was intended by the U.S. Constitution and by God. Oh, by the way, I’ve caught the Starbuck’s couple gabbing away while staring at me a time or two, so I can only imagine what they’re saying about yours truly as I’m sitting there with my hoop earrings and cheap skater shoes. I would not be a bit surprised if they were criticizing my, “I Yam What I Yam,” t-shirt, but as you know by now I really don’t care.

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One response to “I Yam What I Yam

  • Frank O'Gorman

    Couldn’t agree with you more, Jimmy. I cringe whenever I hear someone refer to “American exceptionalism” (typically of a certain political stripe), as if we are somehow better than the rest of the world. ugh.. disgusting.

    And that Starbucks couple…. I bet they even leave their grocery cart loose in the parking lot instead of walking it over to the corral. ; – /

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