Remembering Evan Whatshisname
Wouldn’t you know it! I’ve forgotten Evan’s last name. It really aggravates me, because Evan is very important to me.
He brings me food.
Every Sunday, while young parents and kids are pulling into Applebee’s for that special after-church meal, or while grandpa and grandma saunter into the cafeteria for “mush food” (chewing is optional), I have a different ritual.
Much too routinely, I show up at the drive-thru window of my local Arby’s. Yes, I know. I’m al-ways blaspheming fast food, and yet here I am. I’m sure not going to put a pot roast in the oven for just me.
Without fail, I pull to the window and hand Evan Whatshisname my money. Without fail, Evan Whatshisname hands me my food. I wish now that he had handed me his uniform’s name plate.
Evan really is not forgettable. He stands approximately 6’4”. I say approximately, because he has to crouch under the frame of the drive-thru window to hand me my food. That’s all I’ve got to go on, because I’ve never seen Evan from the thighs down. He could easily be 4’11” standing on a crate of frozen potatoes.
I became interested in Evan on his very first day. I placed my order through the raspy micro-phone –– menu item No. 12, if you at home are keeping score –– and back through the speaker came this amazing, unclouded deep voice echoing those immortal words, “Would you like Horsey Sauce with that?”
Now, I’ve got nothing against horseradish, but that was the least of my worries. I was concerned why this professional voice artist was so obviously underemployed. His dulcet basso speech thundered like the poor kid had swallowed a subwoofer with his Cheerio’s. It shuddered my car so vigorously that I noticed both of my shoelaces had become untied.
Imagine, if you will, part James Earl Jones, part elevator shaft . . . or, what God’s little brother would sound like, if he needed a part-time job at Arby’s.
“You’ve got to get into radio,” I exclaimed, pulling to the window.
“I know,” Evan said. “Everyone tells me that.”
“I’m serious!” I said. I explained that I’m no casual complimenter. My family has a rather signifi-cant history using the voice professionally. “You’ve at least got to start a podcast.”
“Maybe someday, sir,” Evan said. Then, I could almost see the young man snap to attention. “I’m joining the Navy!”
My first impulse was to think what a terrible waste. A voice like that only comes along once in a generation. Although I’d pay money to hear Evan yell, “Damn the torpedoes!”, I couldn’t help thinking we could hire any squeak-voiced young kid to paddle boats around the ocean.
Then I noticed the pride in his staunch dispose.
John, I thought solemnly. This is his passion. He WANTS to serve.
“I’m honored to know you, young man,” I said.
I explained to Evan that, in this day of 24/7/365 news, satellites, cell phones, and the internet –– we can no longer veil, behind the swashbuckling and the bravado, the realities of the profession he is choosing. Dangers exist. They can be catastrophic, and they are real.
Sure, the career opportunities, the camaraderie and the adventures are tantalizing. Equally en-during, however, are the risks: the fear, the confusion, even the asinine.
Yet, our young people are still willing to serve –– WANTING to serve a higher calling.
“This already makes you a hero in my book,” I told Evan Whatshisname, who returned an em-barrassed smile. That’s Evan.
Now that I think about it, it’s not important that you know Evan’s last name. Every community has one, maybe several –– if you make the effort to look for them.
Like Evan, he (or she) is a leader. He volunteers. He is on his high school’s student council. He is an Honor Society member. He plays the trombone in the marching band. He is captain of his robotics team.
Evan wants to be an engineer. He has offers from prestigious universities. Nope, not for Evan.
It’s ironic, really. The day after Memorial Day, Evan gives up his drive-thru window for a nuclear warship, yet never surrenders his eagerness to serve.
I will have one more Sunday to get Evan’s last name right. When he tells me his name, I’ll write it down. I won’t bother telling you.
Instead, on this Memorial Day, walk the silent ranks of your local cemetery. Pay special atten-tion to the graves with flags on them. If you look closely, regardless of the name chiseled in stone, you will see an Evan.
Stand quietly over them and say a little prayer. Prove me right. I told Evan Whatshisname, that whatever the future holds, those who serve will never be forgotten.
Fair winds and following seas, my friend! Yes, that was a Diet Coke.
– John O. Marlowe is an award-winning columnist for Sagamore News Media.