How to Be A Nice Guy

I tell jokes and, it should go without saying, am not famous. But I’ll never forget seeing the behavior of a famous guy who could have been a dick, but who chose not to be. The celebrity is country singer Dwight Yoakam.

Back in the 90s I worked for a company that made settop boxes for cable companies. The job sucked. I disliked it. I wasn’t particularly good at it. But part of the job entailed going to cable tv industry trade shows to demonstrate the equipment. [The amazing capability of the settop box was to sit like a boat anchor on or near the TV and not break.]

There was a lot of free time during the trade shows. I think the one I’m remembering was in Anaheim and was named something original like “The Cable Show”. The plus side is you could walk around the show floor and get a photo with various Tier C/D/E & Lower celebrities appearing on behalf of basic and premium cable TV channels. MC Hammer was there to promote some Christian channel. The guy who married/divorced Megan Fox from Beverly Hills 90210 was there to promote some Fox Channel thing. ESPN anchors signed autographs.

But there was one A-lister. Country Music Television had lined up Dwight Yoakam to appear and sing. I used to listen to more country [him, Mavericks, Carlene Carter, etc] than I do now. I owned a couple of Dwight Yoakam discs and consider ‘This Time’ to be a great, great album. There was a really large group assembled around the CMT exhibit to see Dwight. He showed up in signature apparel: big cowboy hat, fringed jacket, boots. He made it look cool. He then proceeded to knock out great songs like Little Sister, Long White Cadillac, and a few from This Time — specifically, huge hit A Thousand Miles From Nowhere. It was awesome. The show — maybe 6-8 songs — was wrapping up, and before hanging around for autographs, he asked if anyone had requests. At that point, a guy who had obviously arrived late shouted out “Thousand Miles From Nowhere”! The crowd tore in to this guy.  They groaned. They shouted “he already played it!” ..”where the f*** were you?”…”shut up”. They made the guy feel like a total dope. I felt bad for him.

But then, having heard the guy’s request, Dwight Yoakam simply said something like “That song is one of my favorites and has made me a lot of money. Okay…” And so he played A Thousand Miles From Nowhere. Again. Amazing.

I didn’t stick around for a photo or autograph. I didn’t need to. I’d seen a cool, talented guy who didn’t have to be a nice guy act like the nicest guy. If I’m ever lucky enough where someone wants to hear one of my dumb jokes because it makes them happy, I’ll tell it. Even if they’ve heard it before.

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