The Souls of Mobile
“Growing up, I loved working on cars and became the neighborhood mechanic in Toulminville. I played football at Shaw and had the trophies but was put out for violence. I could have written my own ticket playing ball but hooked up with the wrong folks. I delivered pizzas for Hungry Howie’s and worked for a bus station and a nursery.
I won’t lie. I did 18 months for dealing drugs and have been out since 2005. I made thousands of dollars a week dealing, but I haven’t looked back. In prison, I did carpentry and went to school. I went to Montgomery for work release and worked in the carpentry shop and did work in the governor’s mansion. After I got out, remodeling houses became my trade until the market crashed in 2008, and my business got slow. Publix gave me the chance I needed and I have been here for eleven years. I started at Fairhope then helped open the stores in Daphne and on Hillcrest in Mobile. Publix and its customers have been so good to me.
I almost died several times during my life. Three years ago I didn’t know anything was wrong. My head started hurting so I took two aspirin. The pain went away and I kept working. The next day, the same thing. At home, my 15-year-old granddaughter said it looked like something was wrong with me. To satisfy my family, I let them take me to the hospital. Sitting in the wheelchair, I fell over. I went into a coma from swelling of my brain caused by an infection. The doctors told my family I was brain dead and it was time to pull the plug. My wife told them no. I came out of the coma and started to fight because there were needles here and there and things down my chest. All of a sudden the swelling was gone. They couldn’t explain it. I was 56 then. I had insurance but co-workers, friends, and customers raised more than $7,000 through GoFundMe to help my wife and me pay our bills while I couldn’t work. It was wonderful. Customers checked on me every day.
I like to see people smile and I try to lift their spirits. You don’t know what happens to a person before they walk into the store. I tell customers ‘let it do what it going to do because it ain’t nothing but a blessing.’ Accept it and receive it. Take the good with the bad. I pray for people while we are talking and ask the Lord to lift them up. God does not make mistakes. He knows what you need so stand up and be strong in what He has planned for you. Customers ask for hugs. They say I made their day by just speaking to them. When I ask how are you doing and they don’t say anything, I tell them to have a blessed day anyway. They are fighting against something within themselves. But I keep speaking to them, loving on them, and offering to help. I treat them the way I want to be treated and they will come around.
When I go to bed at night, I pray the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm. There ain’t no I in us. Let us be blessed all around the world. I pray Lord let me see another day. Our first blessing comes in the morning when we open our eyes. I say thank you Jesus for today’s journey. Life ain’t nothin’ but a blessing each and every day.”
(This is the third story in the series “The Souls of Mobile,” with people nominated because of the good they do for the city. Their faces will also be a part of the mural “The Souls of Mobile” that Ginger Woechan is now painting on Hayleys Bar. This mural is a collaboration with the Mobile Arts Council. An Unveiling: Celebrating the Souls of Mobile by Ginger Woechan and block party celebration Is Sunday, December 8th from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. with music by the Excelsior Band and Harrison McInnis.)