Jay Bell, my good friend from “Bradenton-Fun-in-the-Sun-Baby, Florida,” called with something on his mind.
“Hello from paradise,” he said.
“What’s up?” I said.
“Not much. Just wondering why the Jaybird hasn’t been in the paper lately,” he said. “Explain yourself, Morris.”
“I… well… I… was,” I said.
“You lost the ability to put three words together? Your writing career’s in the toilet? And you’re working odd jobs to afford to pay your speech pathologist?”
“No,” I said. “I was waiting until you had good news to report.”
“That’s what I thought,” he said.
If you don’t know his story, here’s the short version: Jay sold mortgages in Florida, the economy tanked, he moved home to Missouri, it’s cold in Missouri, so he moved back to Florida.
Since his return, he hasn’t been job hunting as aggressively as his friends and family would like.
I’m one of the few people who don’t call Jay Bell and ask if he’s got a job. The way I figure it, he needs somebody who doesn’t care about that kind of stuff. Rather, he needs somebody who pretends not to care.
“Is there a rule against putting bad news in the paper?” he said. “Everybody’s sad because of Michael Jackson’s dying, and you don’t want to depress my fans any further? Is that it?”
“Something like that.”
“Don’t worry, Morris. I’ve got good news,” he said. “I’m driving home from a job interview. I had another one yesterday, and one last week. The resumes are flying out. That’s my day job now. It’s just a matter of time until something hits.”
At night, he delivers pizza for a national chain. He makes $7 an hour plus tips. On Sunday, he drove 86 miles and made about $50 in tips, but those results aren’t typical.
“I’d rather be driving than standing around holding a pizza sign and smiling at people as they go by in 93 degree heat,” he said. “I was standing out there the other day and thought, this won’t do.”
His job search also was spurred by a comment from a friend who took a recent ride in Jay’s red Toyota.
“She said it smelled like pizza and we didn’t have any,” he said. “I took a big whiff and said, ‘How did I miss this?’”
One of the jobs he interviewed for would’ve had him stuck at a computer trying to stop money launderers.
“Why would you want me at a keyboard all day,” he said, “when I’ve got all this charm and charisma?”
He’s got a line on a job selling security alarms to businesses, which sounds like a growth industry in a down economy.
“That could work for the Jaybird,” he said. “We’ll see.”
There’s still plenty of uncertainty, but I was comforted by the call. Once you get Jay committed to a course of action, things start to happen.
“It’s still paradise,” he said. “I’m still happy, so I don’t care what you write. Just write something.”
M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal entertainment writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal