Doc Arnett always has something positive to say, and he says it very, very well. He likes to write and talk about the things and people for which and for whom he is grateful. I want to take a paragraph or two and let you know how much I appreciate Doc. I’ve been acquainted with him for over a decade. I know him to be a guileless guy with no hidden agendas. Doc Arnett is the Real Deal.
I remember in particular the time Doc and I attended a conference in Las Vegas. At breakfast on the first morning, I was moaning and bellyaching because I was sore and scuffed up from riding the mechanical bull in the hotel bar. I explained that I had no choice about riding the mechanical bull because I was the only person present from the Lone Star State and it was my patriotic duty to show them how it’s done.
I’ll never forget what Doc told me. He said, “Tom, they don’t have a mechanical bull in the bar.” He went on to further inform me that we were at a conference in Los Angeles, not Las Vegas.
Coming from anyone else, I would have interpreted this as impertinence or base sarcasm.
“Okay,” sez I, “If we’re not in Las Vegas, what’s that machine I’ve been poking all those quarters in?”
Doc said, “Hmmm…” His eyes looked up and to the right. (See, that’s why he has a Ph.D. while I only have a Certificate of Attendance: He thinks before he speaks.) “Was your bed by any chance vibrating all night?”
“Sure, but I just thought it was an earthquake or something.”
Doc, ever the gentleman, did not press me for what I meant by “or something.”
After the conference, when checking out of the hotel, I saw a man and a woman carrying battered and obviously heavy bags. The suitcases had, no doubt, rolled at one time—one of them still had part of a wheel, bent at an odd angle, hanging from it.
I understood. These conferences are often held at hotels we could not afford if we had to pay for it from our own pockets. Not all of us can afford fancy clothes or portmanteaus. It is not at all uncommon to be standing behind someone at the ATM who must first check his or her balance before withdrawing five bucks to tip the doorman. Some even try to make excuses, pretending they like those cattle-class flights that arrive at midnight because you get to rub elbows—and knees and shoulders—with real people or that they prefer the taste of their own canned chili to that of a $12.00 room service hotdog.
I was not exactly eavesdropping, but I did hear the man with the tatty bags explaining to a colleague: “Our room wasn’t quite ready when we arrived, so we had to wait in the bar. Some maniac from Texas wrecked our luggage!”
I hid behind Doc and eased on out to the bus stop.