Monday, January 4, 2010

Sometimes Life Hands You a Sack of Potatoes

This week I learned that sometimes things are not always what they at first seem.

This is a story that my friend John Mark Benton told on his Facebook page. It was just too good to not share.

John Mark lives down in San Augustine, Florida. You couldn’t ask for a nicer guy – very laid back and very likable. I met John Mark when he attended my School of Screenprinting in Austin two years ago. He wanted to learn how to print T-shirts to supplement his income from his landscaping company. After three days in Austin, John Mark decided that he really liked screenprinting – more than landscaping. He also realized the income he could derive from printing T-shirts was a lot more than toiling in the baking sun pushing a lawn mower around the expanses of yards. The number of grass blades far outnumbered the hours that he was willing to invest.

John Mark went back to San Augustine to convince his wife that they should sell the landscaping equipment and go into screenprinting full time. The problem was that they are just starting their life together and had two small children. But, somehow he convinced his wife that they should go for it. Now, two years later they have more business than they expected and are doing quite well, even with the economy taking a nose dive in the middle of their growth.

Now, don’t get me wrong, John Mark works hard for his success and every now and then needs a day off. His in-laws have a lake house over in Putnam County and every once in while, John Mark likes to relax down there. This last Saturday, about midnight, with the kids in bed, John Mark decided to stroll down to the dock to finish his beer and check out the solitude of the lake. The lake was quiet – the only sound coming from a bass that hit something on top of the water every now and then. Ah, peace and quiet, a cold beer and a moonlit night. What could be better?

About then John Mark heard a couple of people talking on another dock about 500 yards down the shoreline from him. He turned and notice that one guy was looking at something in the water, pointing and the other guy was … right in mid thought it hit him – BLAM!

Something racked him hard. It felt like someone had swung a sack of potatoes on a rope at the side of his head. A brilliant flash of white went off inside his head, blinding him for a few minutes.

If John Mark had not been sitting in the deck chair, he would have fallen in the water. As it were, he ended up slumped over the side of the chair in an awkward position. He yelled at nothing. There was nothing or nobody to yell at. His thoughts ran from a shotgun blast to a potato gun. He sat up and moved his hand to his head, half expecting part of it to be missing. He felt blood, but luckily all of the parts present before the hit were still there and intact. The side of his head and especially his ear were hot with blood and began swelling immediately.

With what had just happened, John Mark had let his emotions of anger and confusion take over. His attention moved to the only other people on the lake, the guys down the shoreline, to which he began yelling, “You mother...!!! They looked in his direction and run off of their dock, obviously scared out of their wits.

He thought about taking a boat down the shoreline to confront the boys down on the next dock, but the only boat available was one of those pedal boats and he quickly realized how ridiculous he would look pedaling up the shoreline and screaming at them.

He tossed the beer bottle and walked back to the house, where he cleaned himself up and went to bed – still angry.

The next morning in the mirror he surveyed his head. There were two scratches that started on his cheek and temple and proceeded back past his ear. On the back of the ear were several more scratches that began as puncture wounds. Obviously, this wasn’t a sack of potatoes that hit him. The general consensus from the family was that an owl had swooped down and tried to grab his ear. Ouch!

The mother-in-law did provide her own source of empathy in stating, “Well, you shouldn’t have been out there in the first place.”