That NEW Adage

A pressure-relief valve about God, and just about everything else.

F.O.D. Not What You Think… Wait. It MAY Be.


Okay, this one may get a little scatological…

I used to be in the Air Force in one of my other lifetimes. I was a missile technician. Sometimes we would work on the flight line and be around the fighter jets. We were constantly warned about foreign object damage (f.o.d.). Screws, gravel, ink pen caps… all this type stuff, anything on the runway that can be sucked into the jet engine, is considered FOD.

A few years ago, well after my time in the service was completed, I played in this band, Three Nice Guys, that used to do all kinds of stuff;  jazz, pop, country, r&b, everything. An executive at FedEx here in Memphis had an idea of incorporating live music into their monthly (I believe) status meetings. I’m not a corporate guy, so I’m probably not calling it what it was.

We would meet at the front gate of the “Hub” at the unGODly hour of around 7 am, get passes, and drive our vehicles onto the highly restricted and secure flight line to set up for the 9 am meeting. It felt kind of cool to see the stares of the working stiffs who seemed to think, “Who are these guys who get to drive their vehicles onto the highly restricted and secure flight line?”

What was to happen was that we would, in this room that seated about 50 people, play while the corporate types drank coffee and ate and mingled and such. When the main speaker got up, we would do some Johnny Carson-type fanfare stuff. When each new person was introduced, we would play something appropriate from a TV show, a commercial, or anything. For instance, If the person was from Chicago, we would break into “Chicago” as he approached the podium. Breck, the keyboard/keyboard bass player, is a genius and knows a million songs. He has perfect pitch (google it) and almost perfect recall, so we had a library of tunes at our disposal.

Now, what I must mention here is that the band was set up in the front of the room on the stage. Directly next to the podium. Remember that.

This one particular meeting is the point of this post. A lady got up to talk about the status of “foreign object damage” and what improvements there had been in its reduction. She spoke about how important it was to be vigilant in the prevention of foreign object damage and how much money was lost at each incidence of foreign object damage. After a while, she abbreviated the term to F.O.D., and a minute or so later, she just shortened it further to “fod” to save time.

 It is important to note that White folks and Black folks speak differently. This woman was White.

FedEx is a company known and admired for its fairness is diverse hiring practices. at least half the room was Black. The band was all Black.

The speech went something like this:

“I just want ya to know, you’re doing a bang up job in keepin’ yer fod to a minimum. But we can do better. The Memphis hub has had a 30 per cent reduction in fod over tha last quarter, but in tha last month, you had 3 cases of fod. What happened? Why the increase in fod? You managers are gonna have to do whatever it takes to keep the fod down.”

Right here is where I tell you that, phonetically, the word WE use for the Godly act of passing gas sounds UNCANNILY like “fod”. Now, I pride myself in not being inappropriately silly. Certainly, as a musician, I have heard all the stereotypes about how irresponsible we are. I did not, sitting right up front in front of all these corporate executives, want to appear silly. But this woman had “fod” on the brain. And being White, she appeared to have no IDEA that what she was repeatedly saying was like poking us in the side. I’m ticklish right there.

We were cool the first couple of times she used the word, but Lord have mercy, she talked for about thirty minutes!!!

“Fod damage is dangerous and costly, folks. It costs us in lost equipment, but also in lost man hours. I can’t tell you how much looking at the fod numbers leaves a bad taste in my mouth! When a plane has to be repaired. It’s cuzza fod. When guys haveta do extra duty (doody?)? It can usually be traced back ta fod. We GOTTA keep it down folks! Fod is a stench in the nose of a company like FedEx!”

It started with a shiver.

We in the band were set up in somewhat of a circle, facing each other. I could see every attempt they made at trying not to laugh. It only made it funnier.  When something embarrassing happens onstage, I usually try to avert my attention by fumbling with my reed or mouthpiece, or by otherwise occupying myself.

Like the time when Kevin, my best friend, and I were doing this wedding…

The church was set up so that the whole back wall was glass. CLEAR glass. From floor to ceiling. The preacher’s back was to the glass, and the audience was facing it. Kevin sings, and while we were waiting soberly for his turn, we noticed this big flock of birds sitting in a tree outside. A squirrel or something scared the birds and they suddenly flew away in our direction. Now, the preacher was praying, I think, so everyone’s eyes were closed but ours. We were working. Playing soft music.

Most of the birds veered sharply away at the last moment, but one       missed. He didn’t see the glass.

BAM! flutterflutterflutterflutter. Dead. I squeezed my eyes shut!! Tears forming. Shuddering. Bowing, praying now. “Lord! Pleeeeeze help me!” I snorted and snotted a little bit… I fumbled with my reed to busy myself.

But Kevin outright laughed. In the middle of that solemn prayer. For just a nanosecond. But that was all it took for him to get glares from a lot of the people there… So when I have moments like these, I PRAY to the Lord to take the funnyness away.

Breck shivered. He and Herman, the drummer, weren’t saved back then, and they didn’t seem to have the compulsion to be serious. I fumbled around with something or other, praying to the Lordthat this woman wouldn’t say “fod” no more, and I think He was laughing, too! I had to close my eyes. It worked for a few seconds. I thought it was over. “Cool. Okay. I’m cool”

“So, what can we do to prevent fod?”

I know you all have had those moments. In class, or in church. You tell yourself it’ll be funny later, but it suuure ain’t right NOW! Even though it is.

We were all looking at each other pleeeading for something to make it stop! But she just kept on, culturally blind to what she was doing to us! I mean, we were in the front of the room! And I could clearly imagine what would happen if one of us undisciplined musicians lost control.

“What can we do to keep the fod down? Fod fod fodfodfodfodfod.” She would    NOT    STOP!  

Herman, who was crying, let out a squeak that sounded like when someone steps on a dog’s foot. My face was mashed all up as though someone really waspassing gas, and when Herman squeaked, Breck, who was sitting on a swiveling stool, jerked around, away from the audience in this small room.

At that point, the Lord heard my prayer. Someone in the audience, someone Black, probably heard Herman and broke out laughing, and the room erupted! Exploded in laughter! Relieved and thankful, we all did the same! It felt like making it to the bathroom juuuust in time. We spent the next two or three minutes in uncontrolled head-shaking, knee-slapping tripping!

I was just so glad that it wasn’t one of us musicians who broke that particular iceberg. What surprised me was that so many of the rest of the people in that room were trying to fight off the same onslaught. White and Black. The only person clueless was the speaker, who looked up, startled, trying to see what had happened. The head guy, who was Black, came up and whispered it all in her ear. She was mortified!

Those times happened to me a lot. It is proof that God DOES have a sense of humor. He HAD to have been laughing. Flatulence was His invention, although the word for it is probably ours…

It is cool that in spite of all our supposed differences, we of different races find common ground in times of humorous adversity.

God invented laughing. He is all right wit’ me!

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October 27, 2007 - Posted by | God, Humor, Life, Music, Race, Work

8 Comments »

  1. That’s funny.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by wickle | October 27, 2007 | Reply

  2. Hilarious! I got reprimanded by a former choir director, years ago, for “losing it” at a CONCERT. A certain section of the song was noticeably not in key. It sounded absolutely dreadful. I prayed and asked Jesus to help me. I tried not to laugh. I tried to think of something sad.

    I failed. I chuckled, on stage. The song was over, for me, at that point. I’ll never forget that.

    Comment by anappygirl | October 29, 2007 | Reply

  3. Oh boy, my neck and side muscles ache, and my eyes are all teary! Good to have something lighthearted for a change.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Yomi Adegboye | October 31, 2007 | Reply

  4. Thanks, man! I hoped it would be as funny as I thought it was. I have a few more pieces like this on the blog, and a BUNCH more stories. I guess it would be cool to post more of them. I’m not all fire and brimstone. Not even MOSTLY so.

    Comment by maxdaddy | October 31, 2007 | Reply

  5. Thanks MaxDaddy!

    I needed a good laugh today!!!!

    Comment by Phil Naessens | November 3, 2007 | Reply

  6. No problem!

    Comment by maxdaddy | November 3, 2007 | Reply

  7. You know you had me cryin’. I’m at work and all the corporate types are around me. I could see where you were going.

    Toooooooooo funny.

    Comment by Suntu | November 8, 2007 | Reply

  8. Funny story, and your blog excelent!) Especialy flickr photos)

    Comment by ituner | December 25, 2007 | Reply


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