According to his father, Jackson Jr. is a normal boy. I have known Jackson since his family moved in from another town several years ago; I am three years his senior. In our neighborhood, no one knows the Jacksons’ story.
The Jacksons are a modest family comprising of a father, two daughters and a son. Mr. Jackson and his two daughters are fairly reserved while Jackson Jr. is a carefree person. Mr. Jackson is a driver with a touring company. No one has ever seen Mrs. Jackson and since Mr. Jackson is always away on duty, nobody had a chance to ask him about it. Jackson Jr. is the last born; his two sisters are in High School.
At school Jackson is an average student, but in his end of term report, his class mistress always urges him to be serious with life since he is a bright boy. The situation is no different at home as he often gets into trouble with his sisters. Being perfectionists, his sisters think that he is an indisciplined and an uncultured boy because of his carefree attitude. However, Jackson Jr. is a realistic young man who has learned to appreciate life as it is.
I met Jackson Jr. for the first time one cold morning as I hurried to school, worried that I would be late. As I hastily negotiated a corner, I noticed a tall boy walking leisurely to school. That did not strike me as odd until I got near him. Without warning, Jackson Jr. patted me gaily on my back
“What is the hurry for? Take your time” Jackson said to me.
I was taken aback. I did not want to slow down since I was running late for class. Being late meant that I had to sit outside the class for a whole lesson and later explain to my class master the reason for my lateness. I was one of the boys the class master was grooming as role models, so my behavior was always scrutinized. Thus, I did not want such carelessness to blemish my reputation.
“I am Jackson, and I know you are Clive. I am your neighbor, from three blocks away,” Jackson said with a big smile on his face. That caught me totally off guard. Before I could even reply, Jackson Jr. continued, “Hey, how is your weekend? I would like to have company.” As I was about to protest, he told me that he wanted me to do.
I never saw Jackson Jr. again until three weeks later. I had gone to consult my science teacher about the class science project. Jackson stood outside the science department offices. On his face, he wore a carefree expression. He smiled and moved in stride with me asking whether I had free time the coming weekend. The following Saturday morning Jackson Jr. was on our door before the sun was up. I had planed to finish my science project that day.
His visit was therefore an unwelcome intrusion. He spent the day watching movies from my decoder. As result I could not finish my project in time and had was heavily penalized. I failed my project as a result. This trend followed for long, and his intrusion was affecting my grade. I seemed helpless before Jackson Jr. He was a nice person, a person whose company could not ignored. He always had some thing interesting to do, other than studies.
Jackson Jr. appeared and disappeared from my life at will and usually got what he wanted without much effort. His carefree attitude always overpowered me totally and made me defenseless against him.
I also came to learn that his carefree personality had got him into trouble in school and with his parents because despite him being an above average student his grades were always remarked as needs improvement. While I loved his company, I started seeing him as a stumbling block in my academic success. His attitude was also slowly infecting me. This was a cause of concern to my parents.
During the summer of last year, something happened that made me change my attitude towards Jackson Jr. I was coming from the library when I met with Jackson Jr. near our home. As usual he gaily greeted me and told me that there was something he wanted to show me. He pointed towards our home and said that one of my neighbors was vacating. I informed him that it was not necessary for me to know that, but he felt otherwise.
He told me that one of his neighbors was looking for a bigger house and that we could act like as agents and earn a commission. Our work was to convince the departing neighbor not to announce that his house was vacant and that we could find a tenant. I scolded him and reminded that coming from a Hispanic family, I was being prepared to attain the highest honors in education and that such kind of trade was for the uneducated. Jackson Jr. junior laughed out aloud and then commented:
“The best education is the one that you get on the streets. That is why you never see me bother with my grades in school.”
Jackson Jr. made a good commission out of that deal and many others that were to come his way. He seemed to know who wanted sell things in school and always got a buyer. Initially, his carefree attitude seemed to destine him to failure. But upon careful consideration I come to realize that he was a useful person to our community. Jackson Jr. is now a very special person to me since he always helps me to overcome small challenges.