Monday, March 29, 2010

During the first semester of my junior year in college, I was in dire financial straits. I was taking 21 credit hours, and it was hindering my ability to hold a steady job. I worked in the English department as a tutor, but that money was not enough for me to purchase all of the books I needed, while trying to maintain a very minor social life. I had exhausted all of my "Mommy and Daddy can I borrow money" calls, so I really did not know where else to turn.

Enter my main man Dr. Leftridge

Dr. Leftridge is the father of my boy Cliff, and I had always considered him to be a second father to me since I was a 13 year old. He and my father had the same sensibilities, same fraternity, and despite their 10 year age difference, they were basically the same person. If I ever needed to borrow money from my dad I had to lay out an extensive plan as to why I needed the money, how much I needed, and what was my plan to pay him back. Things were no different with Dr. Leftridge, but since I was desperate for money, I had no problems following the rules.

So I called Dr. Leftridge up, told him I needed to borrow $200, and then I told him that I was mailing him my plan for repayment. He didn't ask me why I was asking him and not my father, he didn't question me, he just said, he'd take a look at my proposal and get back to me. I proposed to pay him back at the end of my junior year (which was 6 months away), and that I needed money to comfortably get through what was going to be a rough couple of months. When he got my proposal, he called me and laughed at me. He said, "I know if you're asking for $200, you really need about $500, but I'll give you $350. And you can pay me back when you graduate from college in 2 years, not at the end of this year." Now, I was initially ecstatic that I was getting more than I asked for, and miraculously, I didn't even worry about how I'd pay back the extra $150, and how I'd actually remember that I owed money. I signed the agreement he sent back to me, I took the money, and it helped BIG time. Its amazing how far a little money used to go in college..not so much today.

Fast forward to my graduation dinner in May of 1997 (I finished in December of 1996). My parents were there, my grandparents were there, my brother was there, and I also invited Dr. Leftridge. Dinner was over, and I was opening all of the cards, that contained copious amounts of money for all of my hard work at Hampton. But there was one card that was missing, and that was the one from Dr. Leftridge, but I thought nothing of it. I just figured he would give it to me individually. So towards the end of dinner, I had to use the restroom, and as I came out, I saw Dr. Leftridge. I gave him a hug, he congratulated me, and then I said to him, I have something for you, and I pulled $350 in cash to give to him. I also written a note thanking in great detail, and he said no, no you keep it. I said no Dr. Leftridge, a deal is a deal, and I owe you, and he said no you keep it. Finally I gave him the note and the money and said I wasn't taking it back. He said fine and he kept it, and then he reached inside his coat and gave me my graduation card, that had a check for....$350.

I said Dr. Leftridge, you weren't going to give me this card unless I paid you back right? And he said yes. Then I asked him why he acted like he didn't want my note or my money, and he said he wanted to see how much integrity I had, and I passed the test. We went back to the table and that was that..or so I thought.

Right before I got ready to leave the dinner and hang out with my parents, Dr. Leftridge hugged me, shook my hand, and as I took my hand away, there was the $350 I had given him earlier. I said Dr. Leftridge I can't take this, and he said yes you can, you passed the test and you deserve it. And I was smart enough not to argue with him.

Why do I bring this up? Cliff told me Dr. Leftridge is turning 70 next month, and it just made me realize a) how much time flies, b)how much I love him and c)how much I appreciated little lessons like that.

And now, a selection from my main man Ron Carter, who I will be going to see this Saturday. Ron is a legendary jazz bassist, and he's 72 years old, which means that each and every one of his performances have to be cherished. My man Neil told me to see him last year, but I waited too late, so I'm all over it this year. If Ron comes to your town, and you're a jazz fan, go see him. And if you're not a fan, go learn something from a legend. Also, excuse the typos in the clip. They are annoying but the music is good. The song is Round Midnight and the name is Ron Carter.


£ said...

That is an awesome story. Two enthusiastic thumbs up.

And I love Ron Carter! Truly one of the greats and a definite inspiration. :-)

Chubbs said...

Love this story. We all need a Dr. Leftridge in our lives. Happy B-day to him.

Janelle said...

Wow. Beautiful story. Beautifully written. Great lesson. Happy birthday, Dr. Leftridge.

Now ummm can I borrow some money??? And no I ain't got no stinkin' plan...hahahahahahah

sixfive said...

great story!