My late friend, Odhis, was the best stand-up comic that never was. He would crack us up with funny stories. We didn’t know where he got his crazy scenarios and terms. We would just be chilling, and he would let out a comment, which would send us to the ER to get surgical stabilisation for cracked ribs.
“What are you doing walking all over the ‘hood at night?” I once asked Odhis when he knocked on our door late at night.
“Man, I can’t sleep,” Odhis said.
“The bandits are taking over the town,” Odhis replied, without batting an eyelid. “And the deputy sheriff is not around.”
“I’m looking for a deputy sheriff,” Odhis replied. “Do you know where I can get a deputy sheriff?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I replied. “Stop smoking those things from Kajojo, the peddie. One day you’ll lose your mind.”
“Don’t be like that,” Odhis complained. “I know you have a deputy sheriff to share.”
Then Odhis explained what he meant. Bandits were Odhis’ name for mosquitoes. A deputy sheriff was a mosquito coil, which is used to repel mosquitoes. Odhis was a reggae fanatic. The reggae song, “Bandits Taking Over”, by Wailing Souls, was where Odhis got the apt moniker to describe these pesky insects.
Henceforth, we started referring to mosquitoes as bandits and a mosquito coil as a deputy sheriff.
One afternoon, while hanging out at the ‘base’, Odhis came over and asked: “Has anyone seen Scooter?”
That’s the spur-of-the-moment nickname Odhis gave a one-eyed pal. Needless to say, to this poor pal’s chagrin, the nickname stuck. Odhis christened him Scooter because these modes of transport have one headlight.
Odhis had those raw and untapped comic genes that come once in a lifetime. Some of the humour he dispensed about sex and sex organs - which I can’t share in this family paper - are enough to make the late great, Bernie Mac, look like an altar boy.
Where am I going with this? Sometimes hustling does not mean being the best, but finding the best in others and helping them reach their fullest potential. My favourite quote, which I try as best as I can to live by, is by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Part of this long quote extols me, “to find the best in others”.
There are people in the ‘hood who do not even know they are geniuses. They don’t know they have talents others would kill to have a mere morsel of. If you have the gift of finding the best in others and can unselfishly help folks harness their gifts, you can create opportunities. These opportunities can cause multigenerational ripple effects.
Also Read: The burden of manhood
Don’t be like yours truly. I realised too late after Odhis exited the stage - before he even stepped on the one he was born to boss - that what he possessed was our one-way ticket out of the ‘hood.
Grinding is like a movie. There are lead actors and supporting cast. The entire cast - even the ones with bit parts - advance the story. It does not reduce my stature and gifting when I let my peers shine, as I stand in the shadows, taking care of their business.
Finding the best in others also means, at times, turning a blind eye to our peers’ inconsequential human frailties and concentrating on their redeeming qualities. We all have our quirks. We all have rough edges. If these are the only things we concentrate on, we may miss the diamond embedded inside the rough rock.