Monday, February 27, 2012
BigBro is one of the smartest people I've ever met. He is level-headed and intelligent--a combination I feel is sadly lacking in society. People love him--from the very old to the very young--because he has a demeanor that makes them instantly comfortable and accepted.
And while all these things paint a picture of the great person he is, they don't show the mixing process it took to develop some of those paint colors, or the painstaking process of creation.
BigBro graduated from high school number five in his class. His level of intelligence guaranteed that everyone above him was genius level, and that theory has proven itself in the fact that number one and number two went on to pursue endeavors with the Navy (at their invitation--something to do with nuclear submarines) and MIT respectively.
BigBro pursued his education at a private university several hours away from home, but some personal life struggles left him wanting, seeking, something that was difficult to determine. (Keep in mind, this story is from my point of view and I won't share some of the more private aspects of this journey.) After a few years, he returned home to attend a local university.
His endeavors there weren't much more successful. Despite his intelligence, BigBro was struggling with the direction of his life, and that made it difficult to make potentially life-altering decisions. Eventually, he left the university sans degree and took a job with Barnes & Noble.
He would ultimately work for the company for 10 years. But the process is likely more important than the time. He developed close friendships, and a deep understanding of the cafe. BigBro was a talented barista, and that isn't a fact acknowledged by me alone. Over time, several customers became his "regulars" and many of them his friends.
Fantastic interpersonal skills aside, BigBro came to understand the overwhelming demands of retail. Holidays, with the exception of Christmas, became UN-holidays, because the general public would hasten to spend their extra time browsing the aisles of books and sipping a fancy drink. And while he may have mentioned frustrations a time or two, he rarely complained.
Some people believed a couple of years with the company would be enough to send BigBro running to the classroom to finish his degree. I'm sure after a frustrating day, he considered it, but he was more dedicated to careful consideration and future possibilities.
One of his regulars made him a member of the "Drop-Out-Club," and while he and Ronnie considered this an inside joke, I found the jest to be fairly insulting. One day, after I had grown tired of a number of people ragging on BigBro to "just finish" his degree, this man's "inside joke" became the straw that broke the camel's back. The ten minute diatribe that followed wasn't my finest hour, but I still believe the things I said.
Ronnie is the most trustworthy person I know. He is admirable for a hundred reasons that don't require a college degree, and I think that's the kicker. Several of the things we learn in college were things Ronnie already understood. And, I believed in him, because I knew that when the path was clear, he would pursue it with ardor.
About 9 years into his tenure at Barnes & Noble, that's exactly what happened. His love of cars and engines developed into a bachelor's degree in engineering. While pursuing his master's, he was head-hunted to apply for a job with a company more than ten hours away. And after an interview, that company (who clearly saw something worthwhile there--smart people) offered him more money than he originally asked for.
Ten years from start to finish. Ten years of frustration, decisions and well-meaning advice givers. Ten years of courage of conviction, honesty and trustworthiness. Ten years for God to clearly direct his path. Ten years for BigBro to get a little recognition for the ability most of us saw very early in his life. But he is, by far, one of the most praiseworthy people I've had the privilege of knowing personally--and more so because He gives God the glory for where he is and where he has been.
There are more struggles to come, I'm sure. More decisions to make. More life to live. But in that process, I can guarantee you that the things that make BigBro praiseworthy are the very things that others will see in the journey to come. When they do, I hope that's what they think on, because I can't think of him without openly acknowledging those traits.
Final Installment of Philippians 4:8