Revisiting My Mentors: #4 Joe Mitchell

As I revisit this about a year and a half after I wrote it I think Joe and I have emailed once or twice since then.  My life doesn’t seem much different.  My relationship with him probably prepared me – as much as anyone – for this kind of contingency 🙂

I put in a picture of a blob because Joe and I once crawled into one together to pull out (and then clean) the bladder.  Very hot, very sticky experience.

Joe is an old friend and came alongside me at a rough time in my life.  Almost no part of our relationship reflected the rough patch, but I was thankful for his steadiness.

I learned about hard work power-spraying two tennis courts and a 100 yard track with Joe in the Summer of 1999.

Here is what I remember about Joe (who is, I think, 1 or 2 years old than me). When we worked together he would typically say, “It’ll be alright.” To new ideas mostly. Meaning, ‘I’m tired, let’s think of a better and more efficient way of doing this… and if we don’t I will have rested for five minutes on my rock rake.’ Joe’s answer, “It’ll be alright.” Means: we have man-power behind us, let’s just finish the job. Sometimes he would say, “It’ll probably be alright.” If you ever hear me say this, what I have actually just said is, “the process is actually fine and I think we just need to finish it.” What I learned from Joe here was to just keep working. I still don’t always do this, I wasn’t exactly mentored in a ‘roll up your sleeves’ kind of house; but I am a lot better since working with Joe.

Joe and I aren’t similar. But, for a few years we would talk in March about basketball, and if I called him now and asked about the Lakers (his team), we would have a nice talk. He would then indulge me in regards to the Celtics (my team).

Joe played a bit of point guard when we had some time for bball at camp. We liked playing together. Once, I stepped back and missed a 3 and he said, “You were trying to step back like Reggie (Miller).” A few years later I did it successfully against a league team, and thought of what he said. He is a good player, uses the backboard well and tends to forget that he can score pretty well.

What I remember from playing basketball with him was that if I did something dumb or missed a layup he would get on my case, but not in the irritating way. I knew he just wanted to win, he knew I didn’t want to miss, but he provided that strange kind of man-encouragement that sounds discouraging, but is really just us understanding language backwards or something. Kind of like when I was studying for my ordination exams and Rick kept telling me he would kick my ass if I didn’t pass them. It was encouraging.

But, under Joe I learned about hard work, enjoyed some basketball, and forever adopted a phrase that helps me to keep working at stuff, “probably be alright…”

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