Advice from an unlikely source

Brooke Howard, Features Editor

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When I lived in Los Angeles, an elder man once came up to me and said, “Just don’t get out of the line, that’s all you have to do.”

I took it pretty literally since at the time I was standing in a line for Chipotle. I started to retort with a joke along the lines of, “Oh no sir, I’m very serious about my Chipotle burritos,” until he cut me off and continued, “What you are doing, just don’t stop. All the hard work, all of the stress it’ll pay off. Don’t stop. Don’t get out of the line because your chance will come. You will get your opportunity and the fact is, 80 percent of people get out of the line because it’s too hard or takes too long.”

Now, you must think “Alright, weird guy, why did you come up to a random girl and say that? And Brooke, why would you take anything this guy says seriously?”

When he walked away it struck me who he was, Jack Klugman.

Klugman was a well-known actor, who appeared in many Broadway plays, amazing TV shows, The Twilight Zone and multiple award-winning movies.

I wondered why he chose me out of all of the people standing in line for Chipotle burritos.

Then I had another small realization. That day my car had died and I was taking public transportation everywhere. I was carrying my backpack for school, my bag of clothes for work, about five books and my guitar I was about to sell for some quick cash. I probably looked like a young, tired bum.

What he said that day resided in me ever since. At one point it was the bane of my existence. I took it so literally I refused to move back to Bakersfield from LA because I felt it would mean I was stepping out of line, that I was a failure.

Klugman died a couple months after that day in Chipotle and I was never able to get a hold of him.

After taking time to understand where Klugman came from and what he meant with what he said I realized something.

Klugman was born to Russian Jewish immigrants, a hat maker and a house painter, and had many people tell him he would never make it as an actor. At one point someone even recalls him in 1948 coming home upset because his drama teacher told him, “Young man you are not suited to be an actor. You are suited to be a truck driver.”

Now I understand many stories start like this. A kid with passion and drive is born to a poor family and overcomes the odds and ends up triumphant and successful.

But something about the way Klugman, who was 90 at the time, talked to me about not getting out of the line. I realized this could correlate with any problem you face in life.

Klugman served in the army during World War II and fought in many battles. After the war was over he went back to pursue acting. He never got out of line.

He was called to war but his heart stayed in the game. Klugman read many plays and books on acting while fighting the war. He never got out of line.

When you want to do something in life, and you really want it, stick with it. Persevere. Don’t step out of the line.

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