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my friend jimmy
some weirdness is a good thing
by todd w bush

One of the drawbacks (and perks, depending on your point of view) to being a lowly airman working in computers and communications for the Air Force, is the amount of “mid shifts” we have to work. The AF doesn’t call them “night shifts” because to say “night shift” would make the people working the shift think that it’s a bad thing, so they call them “mid shifts” to make them think it’s a good thing. Never mind the fact that the first “mid shift” you work, it takes about 0.4 seconds to figure out that a) this is going to suck donkey doo-doo, and b) all the “mid shift” stuff is just horse shit.

At Lajes Field in the Azores, mid shift is even worse because you’re on an island that’s 12 miles by 14 miles, with the socio-economic societal equivalent of the early 1900’s right off base. That doesn’t make for good times. However, if you have someone like Jimmy on your shift, it can be a hell of a lot of fun.

Jimmy is about six feet, seven inches tall. He wears thick, Coke-bottle glasses, has his hair trimmed in the “I’m going for the Jerry’s kid look” kind of buzz cut, and he kind of walks like the Abominable Snowman from the Looney Tunes. He is a huge Anime fan, collects replica swords of all kinds, and might be the greatest video game player I’ve ever met. When a person sees him, almost immediately they think one word: goofy. And they aren’t far off, except for the fact that he is brilliant, has one of the quickest wits I’ve ever seen, and does things when either bored or drunk that defy human explanation.

Our shifts ran three days on, two off, two on, and three off, for 12 hours a day. Jimmy came in one night to start a three days on run, and he had scratches all over his face. It looked like he’d picked a fight with a weed eater and lost. Calmly and without saying a word, he walks over to a computer, sits in front of it and starts logging in to check his email. Everyone in the room is looking at him out of the corner of their eye, wondering if he’s going to explain or not. After ten minutes of us staring and cutting our eyes at him, he finally slowly turns around and says, “I just wanted to see if my swords were sharp.” Then turns back around and doesn’t speak another word for an hour.

Another morning, we were finishing up a long 12-hour shift, and started up the monstrous hill that led back to the dorms. Jimmy was about twenty-five yards ahead of me on the steps. I noticed he was just standing there, staring at the ground. I got up to him and saw he was looking intently at a line of ants. Without a word, he got down on all fours right next to them and began examining them closely. Not knowing if he was a fan of ants, or auditioning for the host of Wild Kingdom, I just watched him, watching the ants. Finally after a minute or two he says, “I don’t think these are the ones that hurt you.” Another ten seconds of observation went by and then he stuck out his tongue and licked up the entire line. After throwing up, I hurried up the stairs away from him.

One night, most of our group, including Jimmy, Bagger, Rev, me, and a couple of others were off of work. Celebrating this rare occasion, we decided to drink our body weight. A couple of hours and several fifths later, Jimmy starts staring at a couch he had in his room. It was an old couch, with most of the covering either already off or nearly there. Finally he makes me get up off of the thing, and then sits on it hard, prompting one of the springs in it to poke him in the ass. Furious he jumps up, screaming all sorts of curses, grabs a replica broadsword, nearly four and a half feet long. Bagger, Rev and myself dive out of the room, doing our best Jack Bauer impersonation. Jimmy then proceeds to completely destroy the entire couch, hacking it into a thousand pieces. After he’s done, he calmly walks over to the make-shift bar, pours himself a tumbler of bourbon and sits in his recliner, staring at the destruction like a proud artist.

Finally, one night Jimmy and I were working mids, just the two of us. It was around three or four in the morning, and I was hungry. Off to the snack bar I go, and grab a Pepsi and two Twinkies. I sat back down at my computer, and within ten minutes I’ve polished off the first Twinkie and half the Pepsi (I’m fat, sue me). Jimmy is staring at my Twinkie, almost coveting it. He finally raises his head and says, “Can I have your Twinkie?” I said he could, and then turn back around to my computer. After fifteen minutes of hearing weird noises behind me, I wheel around to find Jimmy smiling at me, Twinkie all over his face, in his nose, in his ears, between his teeth... It looked like he’d just been bobbing for Twinkies in a 10-gallon drum full of Twinkies. He smiles big, then gets up walks over to the printer and picks up a single piece of white paper. Without a word, he sits down again, and blows all the Twinkie stuffed up his nose onto the paper. Giggling to himself, he shows it to me and says, “Hehehehe, modern art.”

Every writer knows that to successfully end a column, they need to do kinda what The Dude's rug did, tie the thing together. I guess the best way to do it that would be to say that my sword-wielding, face-scratching, ant-eating, six foot seven inch white-as-snow goof of a friend is now in Japan. Do I even need to comment?


Todd's background includes military service, a stint at a movie theater, and getting turned down for a date by Sandra Bullock. All things that make him totally unqualified to be a writer. However, now that he's getting married in November, that might just do it.

more about todd w bush


planning the wedding
waaay different than i thought it'd be...
by todd w bush
topic: humor
published: 2.19.07

vacationing with paddy-b
by todd w bush
topic: humor
published: 6.18.04


todd bush
7.29.04 @ 5:44a

I can't believe left out the time he decided to drink Windex at work because the warning label saying it could be fatal if injested "might be an exaggeration."

mac daddy
7.29.04 @ 8:54a

I had to have known this guy...what floor did he live on while we were on the Rock?

todd bush
7.29.04 @ 9:39a

Third floor.

robert melos
7.29.04 @ 4:30p

Man, I hope you're planning on writing a book about your life experiences, your observations, etc...

This is classic stuff.

wendy p
7.30.04 @ 8:43a

I sent this column to my husband yesterday because I knew it would make him laugh. In the military, I swear, these gems are everywhere. Todd, write a book about it even if it kills you. Get the guys to help you with it, pay them in beer.

It reminds me of that column in Reader's Digest, Humor in Uniform. You just can't make this stuff up.

juli mccarthy
8.13.04 @ 12:30a

I have a very tall friend who frequently travels to Japan on business. Whenever schoolkids there see him, they all say the same thing: "Ooh. Godzirra."

You'll have to let us know if you find out Japanese kids' reactions to Jimmy.

sandra thompson
8.13.04 @ 8:42a

Thanks for that brief yet insightful introduction to a delightful (?) character. Did I say insightful? Thanks again for not giving us any Freudian interpretations of his behaviour. I agree with everyone who's encouraging you to extend this into a book. Then, what do you suppose you'd have to order from Amazon.com to get them to tell you, "The people who ordered x also ordered Todd Bush's book about Jimmy et al?" I'm assuming you're going to include al in your tome. Good work, Todd, you've proved once and for all that not all the Bushes are illiterate. hehehe That's a "joke." My only question is: what is he doing in Japan? I don't mean "why." I mean what does he DO there? Is he leading the duty and teamwork oriented Japanese culture down the garden path of individual weirdness and bringing them closer to their ids? Just as an aside, I have a six foot four inch grandgeek who could fit right in as Jimmy's best friend. I do not want to think of the things they might do if they ever teamed up, bless their little hearts.

wendy p
8.13.04 @ 9:00a

Every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine can regale you with tales like this. I'm telling you Bush, write this book. Even if it kills you, write it and get everyone in on it. You know every one of the "old salts" will be snatching up copies of it.

BTW, congrats on your feature!

robert melos
8.13.04 @ 5:04p

I said it before, and again, I love the way you tell a story. If you write it, it will sell.

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