Nearly three weeks later and the protests kicked off by the murder of George Floyd are still sweeping across the country. People are protesting police brutality, people who are tired of not being heard. Coupled with a worldwide pandemic times sure do seem bleak; but are they?

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Ahead of his fortieth birthday later this summer, Cody Jinks shared a powerful message of hard work, acceptance, and love. There's a lot to unpack with this one. Buckle up, when Jinksy shares a long post you know it's going to be good one.

I am looking forward to my fortieth birthday here in a couple of months. Forty is a big one; it’s a milestone, a mark. Forty says I’m not young anymore, but I’m not old. I’m still in my prime for a while, yet. I’m simply looking forward to it—the beginning of another Chapter.

I was born Meredith Cody Jinks on a hot Arlington, Texas afternoon, on the eighteenth of August in the summer of 1980. I was born the first son to a very proud, and very young, Steve and Gayla Jinks. My Dad poured concrete during the day and worked the meat freezers for Krogers distribution center at night so that mom didn’t have to work while she was pregnant, or for a while after I was born. She later went back to work. We were most likely in the category of the lower middle class. We grew up like most of the kids we knew. We had what we needed and most of what we wanted but sometimes couldn’t afford to do the extra stuff.

I grew up just north of Ft. Worth and left home at the age of eighteen. My family had come on some hard times, and my parents and twelve-year-old sister moved to East Texas because that’s where my folks found work. I stayed where I’m from because I was eighteen and had my girl (who is now my wife), had a band, and plans to start at my local Junior college. The college thing didn’t really work with the schedule of having a job, a girlfriend, and a band, so the college had to go. I had been working freight docks for years. Blue-collar work. It was like my Dad. It was me. It was hard, but it was my higher education, and I would never change a thing.

The job I had during my senior year and after graduation was at a steel shearing plant. It was hands down the hottest – and hardest – job I have ever had. In the warehouse, it was me, one other white dude, and probably fifty or sixty Mexican dudes. I was the minority, and it was great. It was great after I proved to the other men that I could hack it, and I earned their respect as a hard worker.

I still remember the first day they invited me to eat with them. I’d usually just go get some fast food or eat alone in my truck, but one day they invited me to eat with them. They sat down and ate family-style sharing with each other; it was like a buffet of homemade Mexican food every day, and it was amazing. I’ll never forget the day they welcomed me to their giant table for some of the finest authentic Mexican food I’ve ever had. I was excited. I was honored. But, it came with a catch – the invitation, that is. I obviously had nothing to offer or trade, but I sat down. It was kind of quiet, and the guys were looking at me, I was a bit intimidated, and then one of the men held out a dish with some tiny, what I assumed, was a type of pepper. Now, being an eighteen-year-old young man (and a guest), I obliged and took one of the peppers and put it in my mouth. After all, my parents taught me to be gracious and thankful for any meal, especially when you are a guest. I did not know, however, they were quiet because they gave me a habanero and were waiting for the reaction. They didn’t have to wait long before my eyes watered, face reddened, and I said a bad word. I got it down, had too, all finished laughing, and my tears stopped. We ate. After that, I ate with them on most days. I couldn’t understand a damn thing they were saying, but I was there, and I mattered, and they were kind.

Through the years of freight docks, plants, restaurants, bars, retail chains, and whatever else I did to make money, I had worked with, befriended, and got to know all kinds of people. ALL kinds of people. I remember when 9/11 happened, my boss was a Middle Eastern man. His last name started with an A. I remember being at work a couple of days after the attack, and he was distraught; he said people were looking in their phone books and calling him threatening him and his family. After 9/11, some ignorant, hateful people actually looked through the phone book for names that appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent and called their homes threatening their lives.

Not long after that, I was driving to my band rehearsal room one evening and stopped at a convenience store for a cigarette lighter. Had the smokes, just needed a lighter and a six-pack. It was probably around 8:30 or 9:00 PM in what was considered a not great part of town by some folks. And as I was trying to go in the door, there was an older man in an old camouflage Army jacket that was being kicked out of the store. The storekeeper was obviously irritated at the old man as he was pushing him out the door. I didn’t think much of it as we were in a part of town and known for having a vast homeless population. I did notice the old man didn’t look right, he moved slow and unsteadily and looked like he was about to keel over while he was getting pushed out the door to the sidewalk. Barely inside the door, having passed the old man, I inquired as to what was going on. The clerk was yelling, “He’s bleeding all over my floor!” I looked down, and I was standing in a pool of blood. I opened the door and walked back outside to find the old man collapsed against the building, hunched over. There was blood everywhere that I simply had not noticed upon my arrival.

I walked over to him, and I asked, “What did you do”?

He said, ���I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired,”

Again, I asked, “What did you do?”

He pulled back the sleeve of his old Army coat to expose a hand, palm up, hanging uselessly backward, exposing a cut that must have taken some time due to the fact that he had almost sawed it off to slit his wrist to bleed out and die. It was obvious that he was nearly gone based purely on the amount of blood everywhere and gaunt face. I did not panic; it was more of an angry/sad feeling because I quickly realized that he had been sitting there bleeding out for some time, and people were stepping over him like it was just another day at the office. By this point, I had grabbed something from my truck to put over his wrist and asked him what he needed. He said he had gone into the store to try to get a drink, that he was thirsty.

“What do you want to drink?” I asked.

He looked at me with a blank expression and said, “I’d like a sprite and a cigarette.”

I walked back into the store as the clerk was starting to mop up the blood. I was headed back to the cooler and said, “I’m getting that man a Sprite.”

The clerk said, “Whatever you need.”

On my way back from the cooler with the Sprite, I realized I had blood all over me and had tracked it through the store. Bloody Chuck Taylor patterned footsteps. I still see them. As I passed the counter. I saw the lighter display case. I said, “I’m taking this, too!”

When I walked back out, to my surprise, there was another man about my age that had come across the dying man and was on his knees, trying to apply pressure to his hand. I walked back over and sat down. The old man was sitting in between us. I opened the Sprite and helped him drink. I then lit two cigarettes and put one in his mouth. All the while, our new good Samaritan friend was holding the old man’s hand. I can’t remember if G.S. smoked or not. As we waited for the ambulance, our good Samaritan friend kept the pressure on the hand. I helped the man drink his Sprite, and we watched the ambulance crew roll their eyes while this dude and I tried to help make this dying, old homeless guy comfortable, but now they have to deal with him. They took their time relieving us or our duties.

The old man had given me his wallet to pass along his I.D., which I gave to one of the paramedics. Might have been the paramedic that said, “I’d suggest you guys go wash all his blood off.” We did, we walked back into the freshly mopped store, covered in blood, tracking it in again. We walked to the bathroom to wash. It was just the two of us in there. We washed up, looked at each, shook hands, and went our separate ways. We never said a word. The old man died, I went to band practice, and everyone else went about their business. I cried when I got home that night, not only for the poor soul that was lost, but because I had seen the best and worst in people at the same time. I saw division, and I saw unity, life, and death. If we do not take care of one another, we are fucked. If we do not change together for the better, we are fucked. So, it ends, it has too. I will NEVER forget the look on my ten-year-old daughter’s face when I’m trying to explain why in 20 FUCKING 20 in America, people that aren’t white are oppressed.

As for what happened that night at the convenience store where we watched a man die: There were four of us there, four men of three different nationalities. But that shouldn’t matter, should it? And I’ll never tell who was who.

Powerful words.

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