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Good Advice Part 1


After being stabbed in the gut, the onsite counselor said to me,


“Just got offered a teaching job in Korea…South Korea. Let’s go!”


“You and me, South Korea?”


“Yeah, we’ll ask everyone too. We’ve all finished our year contracts here in the Everglades. You could live where there is running water, hot water not cooked by fires, lights, bathrooms that flush…not the kind you have to dig up, put in a wheelbarrow and go dig another hole to put it in.”




“My advice to you is go to Korea. Go teach and not get stabbed.”


She did not know that my Grandpa & Uncle have pictures of South Korea from 2 different WARS. Found the city my Grandpa was stationed in, and took the first job that came up in that little town. And after 2 years of living there, I finally went back and saw my family. When showing pictures of it to my Grandpa, he starts off by saying,


“What the hell is a CGV?”


“It’s the biggest movie chain in Korea Grandpa.”


“That used to be rice fields there by the river. I used to kill people there.”


What do you say to that, really? It’s like questioning an elephant in the jungle about it’s knowledge of the forest it’s from. There are certain things you shouldn’t ask about until spoken aloud by said speaker. In these modern times it feels like people aren’t holding up tradition anymore, or the old ways…But I love to pick in choose which one’s I uphold as a modern man.


“Well Grandpa, I can watch movies about you there.” Now, dealing with this kind of humor with a war vet is tricky…BUT




Always the surprising thing about advice…when it’s your own advice or someone’s you borrowed, you can’t blame the result if it’s bad on the advice given. Now the counselor who encouraged me to go to Korea, who I already signed “Room mate” paperwork with, backs out. She fell in love, and chose that. I went on without her. Waited 13 hours at the airport in Incheon, with some A4 paper taped to my coat: “Paju English Village.” It helped me sleep and no one seemed to bother me. Eventually, some middle-aged man, violently shaking and yelling my name arrived. Having just come from working with prisoned teen-agers in the Everglades, I immediately put the man down to the ground, hands behind his back firmly so he cannot harm me. When working with teenagers who have killed people, you must be trained how to do “GOV’T take-downs” funded in rehabilitation centers. Then was blind-sided by airport security. After all the dust had settled, I was amazingly focused on one, and only one thing…


“Why and the hell did I listen to her advice?” A Gov’t official came to the airport & explained everything, especially the part about my last job and the physicality differences as opposed to a normal classroom full of Korean middle-school students. Her advice, “not get stabbed.” Well, I did not get stabbed, but I died for a couple minutes in a hospital bed. And for the first time, we had something to talk about as men. We both have seen pain & death on foreign soil. This forever changed the relationship with my namesake. James II, the James that didn’t go to the military like his father, uncle and Grandpa could now share their own personal war stories from Korea. He told me about how he watched all of his friends die in front of him every day. And in his most clever way of talking, he said,


“James, I watched most of my friends die. Your friends watched you die, and then come back to life. I think I got the better end of the deal.”


It was someone else’s advice that led to something initially demoralizing at the Korean airport…to saving a relationship with which I owe my name. The picture you see of “JAMES HOLT” is his sliding name card from his hospital room where he died last year.


“Excuse me, Nurse…Can I take this name card when he dies and give it to my son?” My father asks.


“I’m sure that’s not a problem. Why do you want to give to your grandson? She asks my Grandpa.


“Because it’s not mine anymore, it’s his. I gave it to him 37 years ago, but now it’s finally his.”

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