The silence is for my friend and personal trainer, Nelson Jackson Ellis, Jr., 38, of Las Vegas. He died on Sunday. I found out two hours ago. His memorial will be held tomorrow. My intention is to get up early, complete some work, and attend.
You know, a lot of people talk and talk about what makes a great client or a great vendor on blogs and in articles and in books. This measurement and that measurement. That quality and this quality. One style and another style. Most is baloney.
The perfect client-vendor relationship transcends labels, terms, and measurements. There are no formulas, methods, or processes. All there is are people, each providing a beneficial presence for the other. That is what I found with Nelson Ellis.
It did not matter if I arrived late (because of a job overrun) or if he had to call off our session all together (because he was training for another job). We always made it up to each other somehow. I didn't press which exercises I liked or disliked as some of his clients did, because I recognized him as the expert. Likewise, he didn't press me if my I wasn't 100 percent, spotting me a little more than I wanted him to (and he didn't think I noticed. Ha!). But more than all that, we became friends.
When I first met Nelson (my first trainer had left for another gym) we set an objective: he was supposed to train me for six months, well enough, that I would not need him after that. But then, something happened. We enjoyed each other's company too much to let it go despite achieving the objective. Sometimes, there wasn't even a session. We worked out together. And there were plans to do some adventurous things this summer like repelling, sand surfing, or whatnot.
We listened to each other too. More than most people do nowadays. And because we did, he could tell if I had a "bad post" day or whatever and I could tell if he had a bad "date" or complaint about his other job. He would listen to a gripe, offer some thought, and then smile ... "hey, how's your baby." Gripe solved. Or, I would listen to his gripe, offer some thought, and ask "so what happened with that girl" ... or "how's your son" ... or any number of questions I knew to ask to move beyond it.
We talked about serious issues too. It was safe to do. And it didn't matter what it was: professional, personal, politics. (Nelson found it funny that I was a member of NAACP for a few years. He was an African-American, which I mention only so you appreciate why he thought it was so funny.) And here some people thought I just fire off ideas about racism. Nah, I often asked him what he thought first. In fact, some of what I've presented on this blog on that issue is his as much as mine.
Maybe he had a different view because he served in the U.S. Army. At least that's what he told me. There are no racial issues in a fox hole, he said. Maybe that's what it takes. Or maybe it just takes two guys who choose to refuse to accept what's presented to them as "fact." Much like client-vendor relationships, most of the stuff on race is baloney.
Nelson Ellis was my friend. He made a tremendous difference in my life. I think he knows it too. He will be missed, but not just by me. He is survived by his son, Devante; father, Nelson J. Sr.; and mother, Jacqueline D. Green. Dozens and dozens of signatures grace the poster that will be given to his family tomorrow.
Sorry this post is not what you came for today, but I'm a writer first and foremost. And that's the way it goes with us.
Until Monday. Good night and good luck.