by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
Millions of people worldwide are now familiar with
the first "feel good" story of the year. Here are the
Ted Williams was one of a small army of panhandlers with a
plum spot along a well-traveled Ohio highway. You
know the type, camouflage jacket, scruffy to a degree,
All these folks carry handwritten signs with their message of
special pleading, a message designed for maximum
pathos and heart-rending effect. Ted’s said, in part, "God-given
gift of a voice."
Through a tip, the Columbus Dispatch paper heard
about Williams and, on a slow news day, sent a reporter
to hear this phenomenon say something, anything. It
didn’t matter what.
Finding Williams wasn’t difficult. Like most homeless
people, his habits were pretty consistent. After all, there’s
no place like home, even if you’re domiciled in a cardboard
box under the interstate.
Ted, an affable fellow, was glad to oblige…. and so he
made like the radio announcer he used to be and did
the "Coming up at 10 pm tonight…." kind of voice overs,
where intonation is everything.
The effect was immediate, electric, the real mccoy, and
thanks to the Columbus Dispatch and Utube it went viral, fast –
the bedraggled Williams and that oh-so-perfect voice.
In the way of these things, stuff started to happen for
the big-smile Williams right away. He immediately went
on Ohio radio and the "Today" show.,(where he cried when
discussing the mother he had neglected for so long.
He got job offers and expressions of initial interest from a host
of companies and organizations including the Cleveland Cavaliers,
the National Football League, the Oho Credit Union League,
and ESPN, to name a fraction. Kraft (the cheese people)
didn’t just offer… they paid him good American greenbacks
to do a voice over that only increased his renown and appeal.
There was even immediate speculation that Ted would be
invited by the President of these United States to be his personal
guest at the upcoming State of the Union Address. There Ted would
be mentioned by name so the president could launch a
telling phrase in his honor and derive the satisfaction of
Ted was eager, grateful, overwhelmed. In an instant the
people of America had shed their grace on this man of the
streets. It was picture perfect… heart warming… a made
for tv movie.
A handsome down and outer who
cleaned up well
his golden voice
generous America taking him to its bosom
a soul redeemed
kudos and self-satisfaction all round.
And all in a couple of news cycles.
The reality, of course, was different… gritty,
complicated, not quite so perfect but utterly
predictable. Ted Williams at 53 was a man with a
past…. booze, drugs, women… and a host of
people who had Something To Say about
this man of charm and irresponsibility.
His 90 year old mother stepped forward and had her
say-so. Her voice was resolute, too… she
looked the camera squarely in the eye and said
her piece. Ted had done well in the military, had
a good job, a solid life and had thrown it all away,
inexplicably on drugs. He was long gone and seldom
called; when he did he wanted something. Always to
take, never to give. Each call fed her disgust.
In this woman there was a true hint of steel and
substance. Old, but not elderly… she had no qualms
about saying what she had to say. It was clear she’d
been thinking about Ted and all he did wrong for many,
many years. Her focus was where it needed to be:
not on that golden voice… but on the man who
shucked off his responsibilities to find fulfillment in
something his mother could never understand or
approve. Yes, there was steel in her voice, not just
precise articulation and distinct diction.
Then there was his ex-wife Patricia Kirtley. Twenty three
years ago he had deserted her and their 4 girls… and a 5th
child he had with another woman. Kirtley, in the best tradition
of strong black women, weak black men, had brought
them all up throughout difficult days and lonely nights…
when this partially blind woman of poise, grace, and
determination had decisions to make, problems to solve
all without the man who should have been present, helping,
She says, mildly, the kids feel "some resentment" about
a father in the area but so focused on his own needs that
he was never there for any of them. If they only felt
"some resentment" they were rare children indeed. Rage
would have become them better.
And had this long-gone father called Patricia and
in that deep baritone now known to the world offered her
and his life neglected children even some of his new found
riches and promising future?
What do you think?
He had other fish to fry, places to go, people to meet,
a golden future sustained by that golden voice.
Old hostages to fortune, ex-wives, ex-girl friends,
children, mother. They were all part of the past…
with no claim to his future.
Ted, after all, was the darling of the media… a likely
guest of the President of the United States, a spokesman
for that most American of meals, mac and cheese. He
had a future in which there was no place for his past.
And so, today, while Ted’s smile and famous voice
circle the globe in story after story, picking up speed and
viewers as it proceeds, Ted’s mother and former
wife (now with 16 grandchildren) will go about the business of
their lives, keeping hope and family alive and together.
And they will do it, as they have done it, without Ted and
his never-to-be forgotten voice.
About The Author
Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of
Worldprofit, Inc., www.worldprofit.com where
small and home-based businesses learn how to
profit online. Attend Dr. Lant’s live webcast
TODAY and receive 50,000 free guaranteed
visitors to the website of your choice! For details
on Dr. Lant’s 18 best-selling business books,
go to www.jeffreylant.com