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​An open letter to young Rickey

DEAR YOUNG Rickey Fairless,

Believe it or not, I am you at 56 years old.

I know, you’re only 15 years old right now and you can’t fathom being 56, but it will happen quicker than you could ever imagine.

I am writing to give you a little insight and advice on your future. I can tell you that your future is good and that you will be a very happy — strike that, a mostly happy man. But you have to go through some hard times to get here. Maybe I can offer you some words of wisdom to help make your journey in life a little easier, and maybe you’ll understand some things a little better.

You don’t realize it, but in the future, college is so dang important that without it, the odds are not good for success.

I know you have it pretty good right now, and please enjoy this special time in your life. I mean, you gotta swell girlfriend (Teresa), a nice motorcycle (Honda CL100), and lots of riding buddies (Hix, Pork, Nelson, Lips Wilson). I also know that your brother, Randy, is your riding buddy and your best friend, and I can tell you that he will be your best friend for the rest of your life.

Enjoy this time being a teenager, because your life will get complicated soon enough.

Listen, you’ve lived with asthma all your life and you need to know that it won’t get no better. The medicines will get better and the doctors will be able to control it … to a point. Later this year you will get really sick and spend several months in a special chest hospital in Tyler, Texas, for people with severe lung diseases. You and your Ma will even be told by a knucklehead doctor that you will not live to be 30 years old. Don’t believe it. Yes, you’ll struggle with severe asthma for the rest of your life, but it ain’t gonna kill ya, so don’t sweat it too much, pal.

I can tell you that you have a great work ethic and that it will pay off for you in your future. At 19, you will go to work for the Glidden Paint Co. Rickey, I wish you/I would have gone to college. You don’t realize it, but in the future, college is so dang important that without it, the odds are not good for success.

Look at it this way: there are thousands of colleges in this country, and tens of thousands of kids graduate from college every year. Well, every dang one of those kids is ahead of you in securing a good job because you only have a high school education. I wish you would go to college, Rickey, but you won’t.

You have never been the sharpest knife in the kitchen and you never will be, but don’t fret too much because things work out pretty good for you, anyway. Your work ethic is so good that once you’re given an opportunity by Glidden Paint, you make the most of it. You will work your way up from stock boy to the No. 1 sales representative in the country. You will make a good living in the paint business for 20 years, and then you’ll retire. In that 20 years you will not miss not even one single day of work! I’m proud of you/me for that accomplishment!

The real world will not be easy. You’ll fight thousands of battles, but you’ll win more battles than you lose. By the way, your brother, Randy?

He’s a big shot attorney now and he makes a lot more money than you do. Randy goes on to college and then law school. You starting to get the picture?

You’re probably wondering if you will ever have a family. Yes, Rickey, you will have a swell family. You will marry Susan, your high school sweetheart and the love of your life. You’ll marry her a couple of times, actually. You will raise five kids and you will love each one of them with all your heart.

Rickey, I can tell you that you are a really good dad, but you make some mistakes that you’ll wish you could do over. Kids are the best thing in the world and you need to realize that, but you won’t.

Listen to this very carefully: Your kids are more important than your work, period. End of discussion. I wish you would remember that, but you won’t. It will seem like work is the most important thing in the world, because that’s how you make a living to take care of your wife and kids. But trust me, you should make more time for your family.

Your work will still be there.

Rickey, it’s a good thing that you love motorcycles because they are your future. There will never be a day in the rest of your life that you don’t own a motorcycle. You’ll actually retire from the Glidden Paint Co. so you can open your own motorcycle shop. You will also open a beer joint in conjunction with your bike shop.

Rickey, you will absolutely love owning your own motorcycle shop — but son, it ain’t gonna be easy. You will be successful, but you pay a huge price for that success. You’ll work every day, seven days a week, 15 hours a day for the rest of your life. Your personal life will be nonexistent and your family life will naturally suffer because you are so devoted to Strokers Dallas. If there was only one thing I could change, it would be for you to spend more time with your family, but you won’t.

But, hey, the motorcycle business is what you were born to do.

You will also own a tattoo parlor and a custom parts company. You also will be a radio host, a motivational speaker and, even though you never went to college, you’ll lecture at some major universities around the country. And you will also be a pretty good writer.

Rickey, you have a dang good life in front of you. Yes, you will go through hell and high water to get here, but you could have done a lot worse. Enjoy your life, boy, because it’s gonna be one heck of a wild ride.

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