The May Dilemma
Rayda showed me a picture in the newspaper this morning, one of those columns which companies use to place blurbs on their folks when they get a promotion. This fellow’s name was Randy May and Rayda asked me if it could have been the Randy May I knew in Junior High. To begin with, the guy in the paper was a systems engineer. That’s a guy who engineers systems that I don’t understand and have to get my secretary to tell me how to turn on even the small portion my office manager lets me touch. The Randy May I knew could no more be a systems engineer than I could be a rocket scientist. Let me say right now, I’m no rocket scientist. They made that clear to me when I graduated from law school. “Porter” they said “under no circumstances are you to use this degree in any way toward working in jet propulsion, with solid state fuel, or in the design, engineering or building of rocketry.”
May was one of those guys whose career peaked around the 9th grade. He was a hero on the football team, a Romeo with the ladies, an all star drummer and was elected the most popular boy in our class. He also wore a Nehru jacket to our final dance which was about as cool as a guy could get in the spring of 1968. But I knew that Randy’s fame would not last. He was not the sharpest tack in the box. Randy sat behind me in Mr. Turner’s History class. I had to carry Randy through that class, despite the fact that it was taught by a guy who had “Assistant Principal in charge of Boy’s discipline” written all over him. Something he attained later in life. Mr. Turner gave the world’s easiest tests. Every week, a multiple choice test with 14 questions. May, however, was not up to them. Now ,despite the fact that I finished high school ranked 310 out of 450, I did know something about history. As much as the teacher and considerably more than Randy May. So May, who sat behind me, asked if I would not mind sitting to my left in my desk when I took the weekly test. May could then copy each answer from me. He would always change one answer so he would not get an A. Randy was a modest cheat. He was mortified the week that I missed a question and he had chosen that as the one to “get wrong” and somehow he guessed right. He got an A, I got a B. That did not sit well with me, but I got over it.
I did not see Randy again until my Freshman year at college ,which may tell you something about the standards of colleges in those years, that they had let a pair of dufuses (dufi ?)like us in. He was in my Astronomy class which had been set up for “non science majors” (they could have substituted the word remedial, the Prof called vectors, “numbers with hats on them” ). May seldom came to class, and on test day he sat over next to me and sort of took up where we had left off. But unfortunately for Randy, Remedial Astronomy was not my best course. Randy figured that out when he saw me struggling through the multiple choice exam. I noticed that he would turn his attention to the answer sheets of other scholars for help. On the way out of one exam he developed what my friends and I thereafter referred to as the May Dilemma when he asked me “What are you supposed to do when the guy on your right says one thing, the guy on your left says something else, and you have got opinions of your own ? “ Unless the picture in the paper this morning was Randy May, that was the last time I saw Randy May in my life.
But the thing is, the picture could be Randy. People can shock you. There were two contemporaries of mine in my old neighborhood. We lived right around the corner from each other and were always in the same grade at school. One’s name was Steve, the other was Mickey. They were bright enough, but they were just two run of the mill normal guys that you see around the neighborhood. Nothing special. I lost track of them and the next time I looked up they had become as successful in their chosen fields as it is possible to become. Mickey, now Mike, became not just a heart surgeon, but a world class heart surgeon. Literally, one of the best in the world. Steve did even better as far as that goes. He was at one time the head of a syndicate that was the largest drug cartel operating in the United States. Newspaper stories said that he had warehouses where cash had to be baled like hay. When they finally got him, he spent all of his time being hidden from Columbian hoods, and moved from one safe place to another so that he could testify against all of his old compadres.FBI agents stated that he was a “genius”. Here are two guys, who lived within yards of each other, and within yards of me, who were nothing special in high school, and look what they accomplished.
I even made a modest showing in this department. A client I worked with found out that an old school chum of mine was his secretary. When he mentioned my name as his lawyer, she is reputed to have said, “No ! that idiot is a lawyer ? ” Well, at least that proved she remembered me. So you just never know how things are going to turn out. I hope that picture was my old buddy Randy. I hope that he still has that Nehru Jacket.