Shortly after my arrival to Nashville, I took a job working third shift at the Nashville International Airport. Good old BNA. It was a rain, sleet or snow job I started in one of the worst winters in the city. Keep in mind this is NIGHT TIME. As in, NO SUN! Also keep in mind that I'm from Louisiana. Southern boy! It was brutal. But, I needed a job. The red eye flights arriving in the early mornings served as a source of encouragement. I'd say to myself, "I'm gonna fly like that one day. A lot!"
I was always one of those people who was curious about the business behind an operation. So, I naturally inquired about how certain things worked. I simultaneously began to realize the less favorable position I had due to the color of my skin. But, I was determined to walk in excellence regardless. Being on time, helping with other people's responsibilities when I was finished with my own and doing the little things no one else wanted to do. After all, they knew I was an aspiring Christian artist, so having a bad a attitude would misrepresent everything I professed. I managed to make a few genuine friends on the job and I was honored to represent African Americans in the many "why do black people...?" conversations. It was a trip.
The department was responsible for an inventory report which was printed out at the end of the night. This simply served to let management know the what profits were for the day. I noticed my supervisor, once a distant man, beginning to warm up to me. I figured he was noticing my desire to do more. I'll never forget the day when he asked, "Mike, you wanna run the inventory report tonight?" I was dumfounded, but I was like, "sure!" This was my ticket out of the freezing cold and hopefully a move up in the ranks. So, for the next month or so I helped him run the inventory reports. It was awesome. He'd literally leave the office for a smoke break or two while I did the paperwork.
After six months a few dynamics changed. People were distant and the conversation circles broke up when I approached them. Something wasn't right. Turns out, there were a few thousand dollars which showed up missing. I couldn't understand who would do something like that. It was such a tight knit core of people. Some of whom had been working there for over 10 years. Good-ol'-boy types. At the some time my DJ gigs and session work around town started to pick up (shouts to Fogg Station & Rocketown). I was finally able to get my own place, bed and space. The couch thing just wasn't feeling fresh anymore. One of my co-workers, Eric BlaBla, knew I had a small studio at the apartment and he asked to come and check it out. I'm like, "cool man, come through!" During his visit we kicked it and had small talk. I showed him a few beats while we devoured a few slices of pizza. Then he was on his way.
The climate on the job began to get really weird. No one was talking and joking around during coffee breaks. I felt like an outcast. Plus, I was slowly taken off of inventory reports. I received a call from a DEA agent requesting to visit my apartment. He said it was protocol when money came up missing. I agreed and let him have full access when he came over. I literally stepped out of his way and let him do his thing. I didn't like this job environment anymore and wanted to leave really bad. But, I knew that leaving would elevate the appearance of guilt. So, I continued to work third shift and do sessions in the day time.
Another co-worker, Ron BlaBla (not related to Eric) started working full-time for another company during the day time. Lockheed Martin developed a data entry arm which processed misdirected mail. He wasn't like the rest of those guys. He was a true fella to the core. In passing he mentioned that Lockheed was hiring. Thankfully he said it in front of a few other co-workers because I was getting really antsy for an honorable exit strategy. THE NEXT DAY I met Ron at Lockheed. He introduced me to the HR rep. I filled out an application, eventually got the job and began training. I had a full time day job, part-time at the airport and doing sessions. Yeah, I was on my hustle.
The theft slowly became a thing of past. I finally let go of the night job once things calmed down. Plus, I felt myself being spread too thin. I actually fell asleep in my car one night after I clocked out. My boss knew I was done.
A year later I returned to Nashville after a brief visit back home in Lafayette (Go Saints). After picking up my car from the airport parking, I went through the terminal to pay for the parking services. One of my old co-workers was at the exit booth collecting money. He recognized me and we began to make small talk. I started to ask him who was still around. One of the names on my list was my old boss. When I mentioned him he said, "You didn't hear what happened?" I said, "Ummm, no!" "Man, that guy is serving time in a federal prison for theft."
My jaw dropped!
He began to fill me in, but I don't remember much of it. In that moment, all I could do is recall the events. It was like a well written movie. I must have driven around the exterior road of the airport 5 times in silence. I stopped by the old DEA office, which was located on the premises. The investigating officer remembered me and the events. He said, "Yeah, that's what happened Mike. But, I want you to know that I knew it was never you. I just had to follow protocol." After some small talk he shook my hand as if to say no hard feelings.
Later that day I called Eric (the guy who came over to check out the studio). He was no longer with the company, but he said he was aware of what happened. He said, "Mike, remember that time I came over to your apartment? Well, they wanted me to come over an take a look around to see if anything looked fishy. That's why it took me so long to come out of the restroom (The restroom was attached to the bedroom). He was snooping around. He said, "Mike, I knew it wasn't you and I told them that I refuse to be a part anything that makes you look guilty. I wasn't sure who stole the money, but I knew it wasn't you." I'm like, WOW! I hung up with Eric and sat on the couch in awe at how naive I was. Man, that DEA agent could have planted something. Eric could've planted something. Plus, I purchased a mattress during that time from my sessions money. How suspicious was that? Sheesh!
That season changed my walk forever. A new allegiance to the Lord developed in ways I've never known. He saved me from prison. But my heart was arrested. The realization of all this caused me to become His prisoner and I accepted the sentence with gladness. I was also reminded of the story of Joseph (which happens to be my middle name). Go check it out! It's a real soap opera.
The top of the 2nd verse of the song Broken starts with a line:
"You told me this, if I should ever find myself thrown under the bus /
that you would be my defense and bless me with the wisdom to discern who I should trust." /
That season at the airport contributed to that line.
Once we're a prisoner of Christ, it means that we are now meant for use in His service and NOTHING can interfere with that. We become His property and it's a good place to be. I hope this serves as a source of encouragement to all my fellow believers. No matter what situation you're in, know that God desires to have your back. There are some people who are smarter and wittier than you'll ever be. But, if you continue to walk in righteousness & integrity He will fight your battles in the blind spots of your life. I'm a living witness.
Lastly, be open to where he'll place you to accomplish his macro-agenda. He's in the business of establishing His Kingdom on earth. This also involves cultural, social and racial diversity within the body. After all, we're going to be together for a very long time - ETERNITY! So it's in our best interest to start practicing now.
Michael "Joseph" Allen a/k/a Maj BlaBla
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