Welcome to Jamal Washington: CEO

Episode 2 (The Big Day)


Later that day… after lunch at Subway’s, Jamal heads back to the train station… back to school. He has two more classes before his day is done. One being his Marketing class, where he is to present his business plan for a class project. He has it all mapped out. This is his day and he can feel it. But first, he needs a place to go over his note cards.


As Jamal waits for his train back to school, he pulls out his note cards, and just to his left, he sees a commotion coming from the far side of the attendant booth near the turnstile. A tall, thin, dark-complexioned teenager jumps the turnstile in one leap and is now running Jamal’s way. The booth attendant, an older guy, couldn’t get out of the booth fast enough. Caught by surprise, he starts yelling on his radio to another attendant at the other end that they have a ‘code red,’ yelling out code numbers only they can understand. The boy, not caring who was in his way, knocks over a mother and her son, barely missing the stroller with a baby in it.


“This punk is crazy,” Jamal thinks just as the boy hurdles over the trashcan, which was mounted on stilts at least 3 feet high. Then he dives towards Jamal as if purposely tackling him, knocking Jamal, his cards, book bag and all its contents to the ground. The boy jumps up, limping a little as he tries to stand straight. He turns towards Jamal, and helping him up, he says, “Sorry man,” and flees. The subway police are just rounding the corner as the boy jumps on a train on the other side of the tracks, about to leave the station.


“PUNK!” Jamal says aloud to no one in particular. He looks down at his clothes. The front of his khaki pants and shirt are wrinkled, but still presentable. The back of his pants, however, are a different story. He has foot grime and dirt all over the back of his butt. As he wipes the back of himself off as best he can, he blows out a mouth-winded sigh and looks at his cards, everywhere and now out-of-order, on the ground. “Dang,” and the train’s coming. Jamal starts picking up the cards quickly, as the train approaches. He could take another train since trains in New York run every few seconds, but he really wants to get back to get prepared. “This is supposed to be my big day,” he thinks again. But with craziness going on like this to throw your day off kilter, makes you wonder what the rest of the day will bring. But Jamal is an optimistic man, and he’s not going to let some teenage punk determine his future. He smiles to himself as he boards the crowded train.


It’s 12:25 p.m. and the train is always crowded with people. Jamal hates the train this time of day. It’s always filled with distractions and ringing cell phones, but what Jamal hates most are the screaming kids and babies. There was always one, especially this time of day when stay-at-home mothers and nannies are out with the kids at the parks and touring the museums. So around this time they are on their way home and it must be feeding and nap time because the kids are wired, swinging from the train poles, jumping up and down whining about this and that. And then there’s the favorite tag line: “Stop it Michael, right now or you won’t get any McDonald’s when we get back to the car,” the mother says, just a little too loud for the crowded train.


“What?” Jamal thinks to himself, “Whateva!” My momma would’ve popped me one good time, and given me that stare black mommas give that meant “try me” and it would’ve been over. No more jumping up and down for me. I would have stood there with an embarrassed pout on my face. Did she actually think that line would work over and over again? Soon the kid would just become immune to her threats and never listen.
Jamal rolls his eyes and proceeds to mind his own business, thinking of the rest of his day.


Jamal arrives at the college at quarter to 1 p. m. His next class, Business Writing, which is under the English curriculum, begins at 1:15 p.m. The class is reviewing for an upcoming midterm, so Jamal decides to take this time to put his note cards back in order. Jamal is good in this class. He’s had A’s and high B’s on his class assignments and quizzes, so he feels confident enough to half-listen to Professor Goldberg and his southern drawl, while preparing for the real reason he woke up this morning.


It’s sunny and slightly breezy and Jamal is glad he didn’t overdress. Not anticipating that he was gonna get knocked over and get his clothes messed up, he couldn’t worry about that now. He was here now and intended to get this day over with.


The campus is crowded as Jamal crosses the lawn to Madison Hall, the main building on the campus. Jamal’s Business Writing class is in this building. The best part about this 3-story building is the 20′ Atrium. From about 12′ feet up the wall, windows begin, going up to the ceiling, covered in diamond-shaped glass which resemble colored crystals.


Jamal heads for the stairs, taking them two at a time until he reaches the top. He walks to the left, mindlessly toward the snack area. He needs a drink, but a soda will do for now. A few of his classmates were already sitting at a table. “Hey, what’s up,” Jamal says to Jose, a Spanish and black mixed brother from his high school, and David, a ‘wanna-be black’, white guy, and Shelli, a cute-faced caramel-colored sistah, who Jamal really didn’t know too well. But knowing these two dudes, one of them was probably pursuing her.


Jamal reaches in his pocket for change and realizes his wallet is not in his back pocket. Panic-stricken, he tries to recall the earlier events. “Was I pick-pocketed, by that punk?” he thinks back. “Dag! I hope not,” he says aloud.


“What you say, Jamal?” says David, getting up from the booth walking towards him.


“Man, I’ve had a bad afternoon, and I think I was pick-pocketed in the train station,” Jamal says as he grabs his book bag to start looking through it. He goes to the closest table and starts pouring his books.


“When this happen?” David asks.


“Just about a half-hour ago. I went uptown for lunch, and on my way back waiting for the train, this dude jumps the turnstile and knocks me and other people over trying to get away.” David shakes his head in disgust.


When the last book falls onto the table, Jamal breathes a sigh of relief. The wallet was laying between a binder and notebook. He picks it up and kisses it. “Whew! Thank Goodness. It must’ve fallen out when that dude knocked me down, and I just shoved everything back in the bag and didn’t notice,” Jamal said to David. “I’m just glad now I don’t have to put a stop on my bank card and the other stuff I have it my wallet. Do you know how hard it is getting a new ID at the Motor Vehicles?”


“I know,” David says. “I have to go in a few months to renew mine too. So what’s been going on man?” David says in his ‘black-boy’ slang voice.


“Nothing man, just working hard, and trying to finish up this semester above water,” Jamal says, jamming his books back into his book bag. He has to get to class. “I took too many classes this semester, and it has got me beat. All I’ve been doing is working and studying. I haven’t been spending time with my girl, Lela, either man. She’s gonna kick me to the curb if I don’t straighten up,” he ends up saying half jokingly, but he knows it isn’t a joke at all. He hasn’t called Lela in over a week. She called his cell and left him messages on his private phone line at home, but he hasn’t returned any of her six phone calls — three via message and three hang-ups, which the caller ID still picked up.


“You wouldn’t have this problem if you were a playa like Jo (pronounced Ho) and me,” David says. Jamal looks over at Jose and Shelli at the table and it is obvious now whose girl Shelli is. She is now sitting between Jose’s legs, half leaning back laughing at something he is saying in her ear.


Jamal looks at David and says, “I see he’s got game. So where’s your girl at? Three’s a crowd, or haven’t you heard?” Jamal says snidely.


“Forget you, Jamal,” David says. “Me and my girl are taking a break right now,” he says looking at the floor robotically, like he’s thinking of the break-up.


“Uh, I gotta go, man, my class begins in 10 minutes,” Jamal says, breaking David from his trance. He and David slap each other five. “We can finish this up later if you’d like,” Jamal says empathetically.


“Naw, I’m cool,” David says. “No biggie. I can find another girl, right?”


“Right… Yo, Jo, I’ll holla at cha tomorrow in class”, Jamal says waving to Jose.


“Where you going? You just got here,” Jose says. “I want you to meet my girl. C’mere.”


“No, can’t. I just came to grab a soda,” Jamal says holding it up. “I’ll hit you on your cell later,” Jamal says as he leaves the snack area, not really planning to call Jose. They were cool to kick it with on campus but not on an after class level.


Jamal makes it to his Business Writing class with a minute to spare, but lucky for him, the previous class has run over and Professor Goldberg is still lecturing. Jamal leans his left shoulder onto the locker and never sees Lela coming up behind him, because he’s looking down in his book bag.


Lela sneaks quietly behind him, reaching up on her tip-toes, stretching upward to reach his 6′ frame and covering his eyes.


“Oh no, not now,” Jamal thinks and closes his eyes.


“Guess who?” Lela says in a sweet voice.


“Hey, baby,” Jamal turns around slowly. “How you been?” He asks, reaching down to peck her sweetly on the lips.


“I’m okay, I guess. I’ve been doing a lot of studying. We have finals in a few weeks. What about you?” she says……..




(Next episode October 2, 2005)