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The Dashing Life and Exuberant Times of Brian Harrison....And Other Rare Anecdotes

Thursday, March 30, 2006


My life in Middle Tennesee revolved around a bright, shiny, blue dump truck. Fresh out of college and needing to earn a few bucks, I immediately jumped into the anxious-stepping work force of this spinning, mad world. The company 1-800-GOT-JUNK? opened its maternal arms towards me and like a natural babe, I bore my finiancial hungry face to its sheltering breast. (I love talking in such a way). And I planned on being kept in this embrace until I could walk on my own. So with Wal-Mart work boots, a pair of blue dickies, and a uniformed 1-800-GOT-JUNK shirt and cap I hit the highways, intersections, and suburban gravel of the Nashville area maning a bright, shiny, blue dump truck.

We were a junk removal service and would be happy to pick up anything for an astronomical fee. If you needed an attic, a basement, a yard, etc. cleaned out, we were the proud few who could tackle the clutter, the trash, the undesireable stuff that accumulates and expands in every space, we Americans occupy. It's certainly a sign of wasted affluence in our times when folks will pay up to $438 to cart away the possessions that are just laying around in the way. We all have too much junk in our lives amassed through years of pointless grappling. You turn your head around a corner in you life and its there blocking up the doorways, concealing all the windows, chasing away any visitors all because we obsess to possess. Americans have a great desire for space, not so they can feel the grandness of that space but because we want to tame, bound, and leash that space and call it our own.
We grab on to anything tangible, however trivial, however fleeting and we dare to attach our identity towards these, deeming them a part of ourselves. Let us let go of the object, the subject, the insult, the pain, the trivialities, the superficialities and all this worrisome stuff that chokes the space from our homes, offices, relationships, and free-beating hearts.

Pardon, I digress into philosophic discourse. Back to my story. So I had this job. A nifty idea for a business, for we were not just your typical Sanford and Son. Oh no, we were a uniformed group of friendly marketeable young future entrepeneurs who were all striving to get rid of the great amount of junk in this world so that we could accumulate our own. Our team was a good, wholesome group. Our fearless leader and bossman was a nice, rather large man who believed in Joseph Smith. During our weekly meetings at Krispy Kreme, with Velcro shoes and company paraphenalia, he would inject business enthusiasm into our lethargic veins like a plastic-gloved doctor with a needle. And off we would go to suburbia America to see how many truck loads we could fill up of discarded objects. If we saw anything we liked, it was ours; we just had to call dibs before anyone else.

Under our Mormon boss, Mckay, was his right hand man Tom. Tom had served in Iraq. Had tried to get into the Christian music scene in Nashville and had almost made it. -But the agent who was to sign his band the deal died in a freak accident almost the day before. So Tom was working at 1-800-GOT JUNK. He was a professional in all aspects. Next was Caleb, a stout, young man who had bounced around from random job to random job during these obscure college years and now had found the perfect college job. Then there was my partner, Alex. Alex was from Puerto Rico, was 29, married, and had a baby on the way. I was appointed as driver and he was appointed as navigator, when he was a better driver, and I could read a map blindfolded better than he. But for some reason the roles fell as they did. So naturally tempers flared back and forth. But for the most part we got along wonderfully well. I've never been in many situations where you blow up about something but then after only 30 minutes of complete silence in the truck, you are talking and joking again. Such were my times at 1-800-GOT-JUNK.

Our clients were mostly well to do, the type of people who were more than happy to pay $88 to haul off one couch. -That was our price. That's why we considered ourselves not just your ordinary junk removal service. Yes indeed, we were the elite of all trash collectors. Glorified garbage men, we were, that actually walked inside the house, and with a salesman smile, and a delightful twinkle of the eye, disposed of all unwanted possessions. Unless, of course, we were never called. Which was not all that seldom. Many hours passed where we were hardly called to move even a recliner or a TV. Our duties were then shifted into the marketing realm.

Marketing, at first, seemed to be just riding around in our bright shiny blue dump truck. As a novice in the concept of marketing, I failed to see how just "riding around" was vital. Other marketing strategies ranged from terrorizing ritzy neighborhoods with copious doorhangers to attacking the loaded parking lots of Home Depots and Targets with sticky notes (I got so well and sneaky at this that I could place a sticky note on their car while they were inside sleeping or while they were around the pack placing their bags in the trunk.) Then there was our signature marketing ploy. We called them "waves". We would drive to a busy street, make sure our beloved trucks were parked in an easy-to-spot space, then stand beside the trucks holding signs with our company's name on them while wearing blue wigs and smiling and waving at all the mostly apathetic drivers that zoomed by.
This was my job that I was attached to for the past couple of months. And I have to admit that my favorite part of the whole job was when we had to "break" furniture in order to cram them into an already full truck. From bookshelves to office desks to dining chairs, I could tear them apart into wooden splinters. Perhaps, not even such random barbaric acts could not keep still my wild spirit...nevertheless I indulged in them at the time, but now...I decided to leave behind that bright, shiny blue dump truck and leave behind Nashville and anything that's associated with it (except the occassional sad country song) and go west towards change, towards growth, towards other things that I believe God has in store for me.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Well I just slung my cowboy hat back on the shelf and placed my boots back in the closet. I turned my song and script book back in and as a result sometimes upon placing my head upon my pillow at night a low soft murmuring will resonate and out of my mouth will pour forth those wild, melodious, and beloved words, "Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain!..." Yes, I just played the part in one prairie-staged play of rambling starstruck cowboys and musically-trained farm women. My character's name was Mike, I think. Not a big part, put nevertheless one cactus-hurdlin', stirrup-kickin', yippy-ty-yi-yayyin', rootin-tootin' son of a rambling jack cowhand this side of the Mississippi (which is the wrong side, actually...The show taking place out in the hills of Tennessee.)

Though, still...I was part of one rifle-pack posse no matter how far east we actually performed. My lines, were simple...though complex and believe it or not, vital. I think the sum total of them numbered 5. I even got to sing one of them. I think it wasn't until the last week of rehearsals that I finally had them memorized. That's not to discredit my ability...but to credit my lines which had to be delivered delicately and with utmost precision. Take for instance my longest line and, ..."Yeah, that's right (a necessary pause is needed here accompanied with a slight look of curiousity with concealed mischeviousness) Hey Ado Annie, (all the while one must grip one's belt like a confidant cowboy) you got that same sweet-petater pie (one must say "pie" as though you indulge in the idea of it) like last yer?" (the word "year" must be pronounced like was written and the actor must grin really big as though he is showing off his tobacco). You see how techical this all can be? It took me weeks before I could find the correct expression for "Yeah, that's right". Okay, so maybe I wasn't a big talker. But my presence was felt. I danced. Probably more awkwardly than most thespians do, though probably a bit better than a real cowboy would dance if one should do so. But my favorite was this real cool fight scene. That was my key motivation through out all the rehearsals upon rehearsals.

However, my main theme in writing is not to write about the play. But to write about what went on behind the scenes. For it is the drama within a drama that makes people clap and applaud at the end of the show amazed that this whole assembly of people could even sing 3 lines together. I must bring it to your attention that the show was cursed from the begining, but we all didn't notice this until almost nearly the end. The first disaster that was thrown at us was the lead actress who played Laurie dropped out. She was a married young woman and had no qualms about the kissing scene with Curly to begin with. But then as the kissing scene was developed more...to get a whoop and a holler from the audience...this particular Laurie decided that she was tired of the spotlights. Maybe pressured from her husband..Maybe she felt really bad, but nevertheless, a new Laurie, who was less reserved about her lips, was found within a week before the opening night.

Then after the opening night our beloved Aunt Eller, a talented woman of over 70, began to have very minor heart problems. She wanted to proceed in the following performances but her doctor strictly forbade it. Our new Aunt Eller came in the form of our director. She was the only woman that knew those lines and had even dreamed about playing them one day...though didn't realize that that day would come so soon. Both her and the new Laurie caught on amazingly.

There were a few other disturbances...the main choreographer's baby got a very high fever and had to be hospitilized one night, our villian Jud would occassionally bruise himself in his death scene, I accidentally knocked over a row of corn when exiting the stage, and then there was the cowboy that was kicked out of the other choreographer's apartment one night. Tempers flared and lines were severed. Never to be repaired. But oh well...what did they expect? Now the cowboy rides west, and the choreographer...heck, if I know or if I care.

The whole theme throughout the play Oklahoma is the belief in the positive. At the very begining of the musical, the main character Curly enters the stage singing "Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day...I've got a beautiful feeling...Everything's going my way." The play ends with the entire cast singing those same words. Everything in between is the conflict between this positive outlook with its negative opposite. Symbolically, the protagonist Curly and the villian Jud are both one and the same person. They are both characters that represent the battle within man for that man to be able to hold his head up and be called a man. The loathsome Jud is all within us that is unloveable, despising, and vengeful. Therefore he lives in a dark shed "a-festerin' in a hole". We attempt to hide Jud but he doesn't want to be hid. He comes around stalking those grounds and areas in our lives that we see as most beautiful and good which is represented by Laurie. Then we have Curly, our happy-go-lucky side that attempts to believe in ideal possibilities and dreams that may not even exist just yet like "surreys with fringes on top" and "snow-white horses". The fight breaks out between which will overtake this huge ground of love and self-development and which force will basically run our lives. So all the huge setbacks that were present throughout our performances displayed marvellously this struggle. The play ran wonderfully well. But it doesn't end there. Throughout the first and last song of our lives, it may be that we suffer from poor health, it may be that a change occurs that we are not used to, it may even be that very ones we loved and trusted turned out to be not what they seemed, but the show goes on and one must choose between focusing on the hurt, the anger, the blame, the pride, the hatred even and every dark thing that hides within our corruptible flesh, or we can choose to focus on the light, found within the soft beams of forgiveness, the striving for what's right, the greatness of God's creation, the traces of faithfulness from those who give a kind word in a distressed time so that we may look off at the horizon and think what other unnamed and unfathomable blessings God has in store for each of us and sing back to Him, "Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day...I've got a beautiful feeling...Everything's going my way."