Well, where do I start? I was born in Jackson at the old Baptist Hospital (show my age), went to Jackson Academy 1st through 6th grades, and then transferred to Madison Ridgeland Academy because back then JA didn’t have a high school (show my age again). I graduated MRA in the spring of ’82 (yes, that long ago, when there were no cell phones and music was still… well… real music) and went to Mississippi State University in the fall of that same year where I got a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering, and Minors in Math, Physics, and Philosophy. (Yea… I’m smart like dat…)
I graduated from MSU in the fall of ’86 and worked as a product engineer for a telephone manufacture based in Corinth, Mississippi. But by then the telephone business was beginning to be outsourced and they got bought out by a French company and a lay off there put me back on the job market only a year out of college. Major bummer. I then took a position as a technical sales rep for an industrial automated switchgear retailer out of Memphis. It was ok, but I just didn’t set out to be simply a ‘salesman” after four hard years of engineering school, so I left there on good terms and returned to Jackson to look for digs closer to home and it was there I landed my ‘dream job’ as a Technical Sale Rep at Vickers Aerospace right back in my hometown of Jackson.
Well, time marches on and only a year after joining the team at Vickers Aerospace the bastards at Lockheed decided to discontinue the production phase of the B1 Bomber cutting off a big part of the company’s revenue at the time and falling a full year short of the production phase of the new Boeing airliner. Well, that made Vickers have the first lay off of workers they’d had in over twenty years and, rather than let two secretaries go, they thought, for the same money, they’d drop the last hired engineer… me. Well, needless to say, after that I’d just about had enough of corporate politics and sucking up (just not me), so, I decided if there was any screwing-over to be done I was going to be one doing the screwing…. so I decided to go to law school…
I signed up for law school at Mississippi College in the winter of ’89, but still had six months before classes in the fall, so I went to work waiting tables at Poet’s for six months to pay the bills and acquire a skill doing something for which I would never hurt for a job if push ever came to shove again (at least I think it was six months as working in a bar is not the most sober and constructive use of time… but it pays the bills, and besides… it’s a shitload of fun with the right people) and got to know a lot of good people in the restaurant industry who now tend bar and manage all over the city. But as all such great things, that came to an end when I entered the great Citadel of Mississippi College School of Law in the fall of 1989, and although I was anything but the typical law school type, I did manage to get through it with my soul intact along the way, and as Juris Doctorate degree to boot.
From that point it was simply a matter of passing the bar; no small feat, let me tell ya. That’s the hardest damn test I ever took in my life…. twice… Well, to make the task easier I knew you could transfer the multistate score to the next taking if you fell short on the first go around, but not the other way around with the state portion. So, in typical RTL style, I planned accordingly and took it twice with two 6-week prep sessions with a 6-month vacation in between.
From there I set up a solo law practice back in Jackson (because I hate lawyers, can’t work ‘for’ any and only ‘with’ a very very few (yes, there are some good ones, but it takes twenty years to find them)) and, since it can take years to build a practice, I routinely counted cards playing blackjack in Tunica and Biloxi when business was slow (which in the beginning is, well, always (do the math)). But once the casino started countermeasures that cut down the blackjack proceeds and I switched to Poker. Poker can give some extremely good life lessons and it is a game any smart person should take up for that very reason.
However, one of those valuable lessons is that there are easier ways to make a living than sitting on your ass 14 hours a day in a smoke filled room full of degenerate gamblers and free drinks and friendly cocktail waitresses are inadequate consideration when there are bills back home to pay… but I digress. So once the free hotel rooms and surf ‘n’ turf in Tunica dried up, I continued to slowly build the law practice and decided to head down to USM for a Master’s in Philosophy to straighten out the whole “law and ethics” thing and figure out God, the universe, and everything, and develop yet another possible career angle to add to my accomplishments as a waiter.
While at USM I managed to scrounge up another degree (yea, I seem to have accumulated quite a few in my myriad of educational excursions…) And I figured, why let that go to waste if I can make a buck or two off it, right? So I became a philosophy professor at USM in Philosophy and Business Ethics to try and “mold” a few freshman minds and give a little good advice to upperclassmen. That was a good gig, except for the twice weekly commute, the rent overhead to keep a place in Hattiesburg, and other such and what not that accompnies a single professor in a liberal college town… but I digress again… which simply exceeds the income for a net loss, so I had to give that up (though I did miss, and still do the students, and not just the ones I dated…)
And so, once again, all good things must come to an end and the law practice demands and overly flirtatious coeds seeking low effort A’s made it unworkable for my wallet, ethics, and schedule (all which must coexist, after all). By then the law practice was starting to kick into full gear, so I returned full time to Jackson in 1994 where I have been ever since and where good civil settlements pay the bills as well as fund the occasional Caribbean dive trip.
What’s my best advice from all I’ve seen and learned? Learn to zig when others zag knowing that no one ever got rich, famous, or for that matter, truly happy by simply following the status quo. If you’re pissing a few people off, you’re probably on the right track. Keep pushing; keep dreaming; and if you’re going to dream, might as well dream big. Hell, it ain’t like this life is a dress rehearsal for the next one… And above everything else, Never, Never, Never Settle for Less than You Deserve.