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 Category:  Commentary and Philosophy Non-Fiction
  Posted: August 1, 2020      Views: 116

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Once upon a time I was harsh but time has worn me down and taught me; empathy is not a weakness. ~ Jack (Elchupakabra)

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"The Mamba" by elchupakabra

Words are often lost in great loss.

The death of Kobe Bryant affected me personally. It affected millions of people around the world, personally. That was part of the beauty of what Kobe Bryant represented to his fans. The Mamba Mentality. The pride and the work ethic to strive for but also to achieve greatness. True dedication and unwavering determination in all pursuits, emblazoned with passion and love, and matched only by the kindness and the willingness to teach others to raise themselves to being their best selves; that's what Kobe meant and represented to basketball fans around the world. That's what Mamba Mentality means. Working as hard as you can to be your best self at whatever you do and inspiring those around you to want to do the same.

I was filled with a quiet rage the day after news of Kobe's death rocked the world.
 The moment I learned the news I thought it was an internet prank. The stories were not only confirmed, they were more horrendous than I could have ever anticipated. The world suffered not only the death of Kobe, but that of his daughter Gigi, as well as the other passengers aboard the helicopter that crashed in Calabasas, California. It felt senseless. It felt unfair. Tears welled in my eyes as I tried to continue with my normal routine. As I made my way to work that morning, feelings of shock, anger, sadness, despair, regret and more, swirled within my being, fermenting into ultimately one thought; I fear I have wasted my potential.

Having settled into my office chair, I sat there, indignant, typing furiously but not paying much mind to the words filling the body of the email template I had selected for yet another rude and impatient client. Everyone should have to work in customer service at some point in their lives. The world would be a better place, I think. It is astonishing the way people will speak to you when they cannot be seen. For the most part, it is a tedious, monotonous affair, and most people are of a good nature, but every now and again, some cretin will take their day out on you like an abusive spouse.

On this particular day, I took a call from an especially unruly customer. As the customer stormed on with a torrent of hail like insults, upset that he had chosen the wrong model (but with a similar name) and thus was ineligible for the ongoing promotion, my heart raced. My brain fumed and my words choked in my throat, clogged with anger and failed to escape me. I wished so desperately to reply in kind, to put the customer in their place once and for all. I imagined smashing the computer in front of me, bits and bytes flying through the air with each wallop as I gleefully shouted into the receiver how abhorrent this customer and his ilk really were. Grabbing the computer monitor, I'd lean back and chuck it into the trash bin. "Kobe!" I'd shout gloriously, the final sight my bewildered colleagues would endure as I casually strolled out of the office.

Despite what felt at that moment to be an existential dilemma, unwavering, I mustered all of my training and experience to collect myself and use my best "customer speak" to calm the customer down and resolve the issue amicably. As I went home that day, a heavy weight hung in my chest. I turned 30 years old this year, and if I were a professional athlete I would be on the decline. I know it is silly, but it felt like I was having an early mid-life crisis. Had I wasted my potential and settled for a safe office job rather than risking it all for a career in something interesting, perhaps video game creation/design? Something I could be passionate about, allowing me to live out that old cliche of loving your work to the point where it no longer feels like working. As I arrived home, I was ready to type up my resignation letter.

"Hi Dad!" My daughter yelled as I entered the house, running to greet me. I scooped her up into my arms and held her a bit longer than usual. She could sense how I was feeling.

"What's wrong, Dad?" she asked me. Her perception and her empathy may never cease to amaze me.

"Nothing, Zephyr. Nothing at all," I replied, squeezing her tightly.

I would inevitably go back to work the following day, and every day since. Because I remembered that I had made myself a promise 7 years ago;

I'd be the Kobe Bryant of dads. That's how things actually went down.

How Things Actually Went Down contest entry


Author Notes
I don't know that my dream was ever to be a dad, but it's the best one I've had the pleasure to experience.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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