My status in the Bartlett community has been redefined. Devastatingly so.
Short version: I’m not nearly as influential as I once thought.
For years I’ve been writing that I am one of the few who were privy to Mayor Keith McDonald’s personal cell phone number. “I could share it with you,” I would say, “but then I’d have to kill you.”
I was only half teasing.
The Mayor and I go way back. We met for the first time at Simply The Best Cleaners. My wife and I built that store on Memphis Arlington way back in January of 2000. Keith — yes, we’re on a first-name basis — was one of my first customers and was a mere insurance guru at the time. He was, and still is, an incredibly nice guy.
He was soon running for an Alderman position and he’d bring in his shirts and we’d talk about that. He was always nervous about losing and I would do my best to convince him that he had no worries whatsoever.
Sure enough, he won.
Then, the first time he threw his hat in the ring for the Mayoral position, he was, again, stressing over the possibility that he might be defeated.
“Pshaw!” I said.
Again, he won. And again. And again.
He was so appreciative of my support and encouragement that he gave me his personal cell phone number.
I figured that I was maybe one of a dozen or so folks in all of Bartlett privileged enough to be included in this entourage of important and oh so special cell contacts.
And I bragged. I did. I’d whip out the phone at parties and show people.
“See that?” I’d say, with an air of importance you have to earn to use correctly. “Yeah, that’s the Mayor of Bartlett’s personal cell phone number. I can call him anytime I want. That’s why he gave it to me. You don’t have it, but I do. Obama doesn’t have it, either. Keith — I can call him Keith — gave it to me some time ago.”
You get used to the looks of envy.
I’d call it now and then, you know, the way friends do. He would answer and I’d say, “What’s up? It’s your buddy, Rick.”
We’d make small talk. I’d have to cut it short because I’m so busy. He’d talk forever if I didn’t. Apparently he has a lot of spare time.
He called me after our house burned. He asked if there was anything he could do. That meant a lot. How many mayors would do that?
We’re also friends on Facebook. Now, I will admit that, apparently, just about anyone and everyone who sends him a friend request will likely be added. It’s incredible. He can post, “Well, I just got up.”
Bam! 788 likes and 146 comments within seconds. I seldom comment to his posts because my phone will chirp constantly for the rest of the day if I do, notifying me of more comments.
Besides, I can just call him if I want to tell him something.
But it was on Facebook where I was so unceremoniously demoted to average citizen.
I don’t even remember what the post was about. Bottom line is this. Keith was commenting back and forth with someone, then wrote, “Look. Just call me. My number is 555-5555.”
Only he didn’t write 555-5555. He wrote his cell number.
I couldn’t open my contacts fast enough. It couldn’t be. No way in Hades.
Sure enough, there it was. It was the same number I had so zealously guarded over the years. Now almost every yahoo in Bartlett had it.
It was like the song, “Jenny.” Only it wasn’t 867-5309.
Oh, the humanity! Say it ain’t so!
But I go back to what I wrote earlier in this column: What mayor does that? Gives out his personal cell phone number on Facebook? I don’t even do that.
Of course, I’m a world famous author and columnist. He’s only a mayor.
He’s only the best mayor this city has ever had or likely ever will have. And I mean no disrespect to past or future mayors.
There is only one Keith McDonald. And I am proud to call him my friend. And my mayor.
I expect he’ll have to change his cell phone number soon, though. He’s probably gotten a million calls since that post. I’ll be anticipating a text. Or an IM.
After all. We are Facebook friends.
Contact Rick Jacobs at firstname.lastname@example.org.