And, so, like I predicted, they were running late by the time they swung themselves out of bed and into the day. They washed, prayed a quick prayer together, kissed goodbye, and were each off to work. Jacob worked as an assistant manager at Griffin’s, a large chain music store, which, if he had thought about it before working there, would have sounded great. Discounts were a nice perk, but it was retail. The hours weren’t great, and the pay was mid-level, at best.
He had nursed a dream (maybe a delusion, he had started to think) of doing something creative and meaningful. Bigger dreams displaced that, though – dreams of Anna and a family, of being a protector and provider, a man, a husband and father. So, there he was, working his way up, trying to make and save enough so they could have a family when they were ready.
The surface streets of San Jose were crowded at about 8:30, when Jacob and Anna were getting on the road. Anna worked as an administrator at a local private school, but didn’t have to be in until about 8:45 on Thursdays. She would be there a handful of minutes late, as usual. Jacob’s store didn’t open until 10:00 a.m., but Jacob had some administrative work to finish. As usual, he would get there early.
Jacob enjoyed being at the store before everyone else, drinking his coffee and finishing up paper work. He usually would stream a sermon on-line, busying himself with less-than-rocket-science tasks. Lately, his thoughts often returned to the dream he had been having. Thinking about it worsened the issue, because people tend to dream about what they think about. Jacob knew that. But trying not to think about something is the surest way to keep it in your mind. So Jacob put his mind toward the sermon for that morning, or tried to. He prayed for strength for the day as he moved up from his desk at about a quarter to ten.
Weekday mornings weren’t usually the busiest time for a music shop, and Jacob enjoyed the slow morning pace, playing the instruments and chatting with co-workers and the few customers who meandered in. Jacob was putting up a cherry finish Les Paul when he saw a scraggily character through the window. Dreadlock Jimmy everyone called him. Probably because his dark hair was matted in various and scattered clumps on his scalp, reaching to the middle of his back. And in fact some people would have paid a lot of money for clumps of hair like Jimmy had, but his were free, because that was the only type of hairstyle he could afford.
Jimmy would push everything he owned around town in an old shopping cart that he had taken from somewhere at some point. Packed into the rickety steel frame were usually a large black trash bag full of Jimmy’s wardrobe (two worn button up shirts, a red rain jacket, old Nikes and a pair of worn jeans), a boom-box that didn’t have a plug and that Jimmy couldn’t afford to provide with batteries, two old and itchy blankets, a battered steel-stringed guitar in a flimsy cardboard case, and, most importantly, a dented and rusty red toolbox which contained Jimmy’s necessities, a bong, some rolling papers, and, when he had some, pot.
Jacob tolerated Jimmy coming around the store in the mornings because it wasn’t busy and he added a bit of character to a music store like Griffin’s. He had occasionally had to ask Jimmy to leave, but, mostly, Jimmy knew when he should head out. The late 60’s had forged Jimmy into a hippie war veteran, a combination of Hendrix, Bob Marley, and Lt. Dan, spending most of his days now wandering the streets, pushing that cart around, trying to score weed.
“Man,” Jimmy said, after he walked through the door, “It’s a friggin’ wonder.”