|West Philadelphia| Once upon a time, my primary source of income was a makeshift car wash in front of my house on Columbia Ave. alongside my business partner — my younger brother, Christopher. Shoveling snow for the neighbors was seasonal work so we prayed for heavy downfall and long winters. Yes, 1993 was good to us. Very lucrative. Research “Storm of the Century” if you have no idea what I’m talking about.
Aside from washing the cars of our regulars, the Jamaican drug dealers — we were scared to death to even leave a hairline scratch or swirl marks on their Nissan Maximas and Acura Legend Coupes — and longing for the type of winters that came early and stayed late, I spent a lot of time writing as a “youngin.” God put something in me that I couldn’t even control, because the pencil in most cases, moved without my permission. The little bit of monies that I did receive were allocated to what you would expect a 12-year old boy to allocate them to — the skating rink on Elmwood — the large capri suns — hoagies — sneakers — and lest we forget, the copious amount of quarters that fed the Street Fighter Arcade at the Papi Store. I was quite nice with Ryu. But if I picked Dhalsim, you couldn’t beat me. It was quite known in the community.
I used to write on scratch paper and floppy disks at school. This was at a time when the Apple computers were bigger than apple tree trunks, unlike today. I wrote – mostly poetic pieces. At other times, anecdotes and short stories. Though I never really anticipated my writings to culminate to anything as a youth, I oft fantasized about keeping every word that I ever put on paper. My efforts to retain a scratch paper portfolio were futile and floppy disks were ridiculously untrustworthy. It was at this moment in my childhood that I discovered the importance of “The Flip.”
I got a side job: fetching cigarettes for some of the old ladies in the neighborhood. A couple of my gigs were pro bono with promises of some financial generosity the next go’round. Times were hard and I catered to my market. But, the others were good to me. My rate ranged anywhere from 50 cents to my personal favorite, “keep the change”, especially if Mrs. Thomas gave you a ten dollar bill for a pack of benson and hedges gold and a Pepsi — which you knew would only total about $4 back in the early 90’s…at best. Whenever they said “keep the change,” I sped off until I was out of sight, nervous as hell that they would come to their senses and reverse the offer while I was in view.
I used my wages for cigarette runs, and flipped them into my first journal. It was a beauty. I wrote in this thing/raced to fill it up like there was no tomorrow. Of course, I no longer have this book, but the ideas that were created, recorded and inspired were flipped to new ones … and then again … and again.
And once more…several times.
Here we are 20 years later, and I’m a published author of “The Book of G.A.M.E. (Getting a Major Edge)” — a book that was originally founded on various scratch papers doused with soft soap from my little baby car wash in the 90’s. So I guess in a way, the early journals never left me even when I thought they did. I flipped a few coins to finance my dream.
Wherever you are in your life, there’s a momentous flip that awaits you. Take risks and the rewards will take you. If it’s in a business sense, make that flip toward something better. If you’re in a poisonous relationship, remove yourself from it and flip all the heartbreak to a new refinement that will sharpen you like a sword and make you undeniable to new prospects. If you’re an artist like myself, keep creating to the best of your ability and flip yourself to mastery. Why wouldn’t you? Keep flipping toward the better. You deserve it.
That’s all. Evening.
|Comments as always, appreciated|
~Charles Kellam “The Philly Cat!”