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Friday, December 08, 2006

“Ooh, yeah!”

I start each day with “Good morning, Mr. John! How are you today?” “Doin’ good. Ready for ‘nother day. Ooh, yeah!” And Mr. John, with a mop in his hand, shows off his magnetic smile.

In the middle of the day Mr. John comes in again, and I ask the kids to say, “Hello, Mr. John!” And he asks them, “Y’all doin’ good?” “Yes, sir!” come their tiny voices “Ooh, yeah!” he says as he gets into the bathroom with his strong disinfectant, so we all cough and sneeze when he steps out.

At the end of the day, Mr. John comes in for the last time with his broom and dustpan. “How’re y’all doin’?” “Been a long day, Mr. John,” I usually say or “All’s well that ends well” “Ooh, yeah! It’ll be all right. It’ll be all right…”

What makes Mr. John really special other than being himself is this “Ooh, yeah!” in his baritone voice which seems to come from deep within like a giant’s burp from a deep well. It’s like having the last drop of your favorite Starbucks coffee in the morning and finally wakes yourself up for another stressful day. It’s like feeling the coldest soda in your throat in the middle of a steamy summer day. It’s like filling yourself up with a hearty meal in your cozy home in a snowy winter night.
It’s like you’ve just had the best of something I probably shouldn’t write here… Ooh, yeah!

Mr. John’s “Ooh, yeah!” is also like a long sigh at the end of a school year when the last child has been dropped off at a mobile home camp by the brawny lady driver who says, “Take care, now, sweetie. Enjoy the break!” And she parks her good old yellow bus and turns off the engine which lets off a hissing sound that seems to say, “Ooh, yeah!” And this same lady has yelled at the kids all year, “Get your butt in your seat or I’ll write you up!” So now she slowly gets up and off the bus and breathes in the cool summer air and probably says, “Ooh, yeah!”

“Ooh, yeah!” what lovely words I think, so hypnotic like the endless sweep of Mr. John’s mop in the hallway. Like the lingering scent of his disinfectant and his tireless voice: “Have a good one. See you in the mornin'” as all locks click and all heavy footsteps die. Ooh, yeah! With Mr. John around, we sure are ready not only for a new day, but also for Ray Charles’s “wonderful world.” Ooh, yeah…

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