In the wake of the the civil unrest that has marked this year, and the protests and conversations that have followed, many country artists have shared their thoughts, opinions, and reflections on racial injustice in the United States.
Some just shared a black box to their Instagram account, others advocated for change in their own way, but then there was Cody Jinks.
Cody, who is staring forty in the face, reflected on where he grew up, where he worked, his start in music, and then the time he watched a man die in a convenient store parking lot… all through the lenses of race relations.
Yeah, it’s heavy… but it needs to be heard.
So starting in the middle…
“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.”
Talk about a gut punch of a story. The kind that breaks your heart, maybe makes you cry a little, maybe makes you feel guilty or angry. But if nothing else, it makes you think about life. No matter where you come from or where you’ve been, what color you are, what race you are… life is fleeting, it’s temporary, its’s fragile. And at the end of the day, it’s going to take all of us working together to get this shit figured out.
How about we just be good people, eh? It’s not that fucking hard…