When What You Know Doesn’t Matter and Who You Know Does

Humor post.1.13.17 graduation

One time,

When I was in high school and going through the college admission’s process, my English teacher, Ed Breslin, told me that life isn’t always about what you know; often, he said, it’s about who you know.

I didn’t even know what he meant, but his insight would turn out to be great foreshadowing.

Giving It The Ol’ College Try

After graduating, I left for California where I would attend college the following fall, but only if I could make enough money to pay for it.

By July, I still hadn’t found a job and had only improved my tennis game and my tan, so I went back to my hometown of Chicago to live with siblings and work at McDonald’s.

I loved “Micky-Ds.”

I got to eat my favorite meal at a huge discount: caramel sundae with nuts, large fries, a fantastic new sandwich called the McRib, and a large Coca-Cola!

I was in heaven – everyday!

Until Dick Webster, the Headmaster from my high school called. (Hello Loooooozer)

I was terrified that he was calling to tell me there had been a mistake and I would have to send back my diploma, so I avoided his calls.

He was relentless.

Come to find out, he was calling because he had heard that I was back in Chicago and not going to college.

He said I’d regret not going, that I needed to go through life with the least amount of regret as possible.

I didn’t understand these educators from my former high school.

I thought they were all in cahoots with their esoteric knowledge, fancy vocab words, and ability to use metaphoric symbolism at the drop of a hat.

They were supposed to be done with me.

I graduated; I didn’t have to return my diploma, yet I was still being tested on a curve that still wasn’t working in my favor.

I just wanted to eat my caramel sundae with nuts and my McRib sandwich everyday – in that order – and play tennis with this great guy who turned out to be a cocaine dealer – which explains his speed.

On the court.

I tried reasoning with Mr. Webster.

Even according to my math, my McDonald’s salary wasn’t going to cover the costs of college; it barely paid for my caramel sundae with nuts and my McRib sandwich, and I had my nice discount.

He asked me to have a little faith.

Ten Days Later

Sight unseen, I was driving out to the East coast to attend Notre Dame of Maryland University.

Mr. Webster had called a friend by the name of Dr. Mike Mahoney.

They played LaCrosse together in college at Johns Hopkins and Dr. Mahoney was the Dean of Admissions at Notre Dame.

On the first day of classes, I went into the admission’s office to meet the only person I knew on the East coast – Dr. Mahoney.

Not only had Mr. Webster procured my enrollment at Notre Dame, Dr. Mahoney gave me a college work-study job in his office.

As if that weren’t enough, Dr. Mahoney handed me five hundred dollars cash so I could get my books.

He said I came highly recommended.

By the end of my first week in college, I found two additional jobs – one in retail; the other waiting tables and by the end of my first semester, I was able to pay Dr. Mahoney back in full.

The Significance of Coincidence

It’s impossible to know how the people or the events in our lives will fall in their order of significance, but I don’t believe in coincidence.

I do believe that our words and our actions matter.

That the intentions in our hearts should match up to the actions we take and the words we choose to use because eventually, they add up to the sum of a life and I want mine to count.

Despite having to accept life’s many mysteries, I want to make sense of the nonsense when I add it together.

Breslin was right.

It’s not always about what you know; often, it’s about who you know and the “who-I know” are the few I know that care enough to divert me to the place I need to be.

Right here; writing now.

It’s not about the diploma that hangs on a wall or collects dust in a forgotten box in the attic.

It’s about the caring teachers in the classroom of our lives.

Here’s to remembering who we know because of who they are, and to remembering that a warm smile or a kind word can change the course of someone’s day – maybe even their life – whether we know it or not.

Until next time,

Cheers to leaving our regrets in the past and to giving our kindness away now.





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17 Responses to “When What You Know Doesn’t Matter and Who You Know Does”

  1. Barb B.January 15, 2017 at 2:53 pm #

    Another great story, Mo! In these crazy days, it’s so nice to get reminders of what normal people can do and will do to help others.

    Had you dug deep, you might have realized you knew a few more people on the East Coast, tho. 😉

    xo, ~barb

    • MO VEARJanuary 16, 2017 at 12:04 am #

      Oh my gosh – now ya tell me! LOLOLOL My A-Ha moment comes thirty-ish years later. Awesome! xoxoxoxo

      • Barb B.January 16, 2017 at 9:36 am #

        Haha! But seriously, I’m really enjoying your writing, Mo. xo

        • MO VEARJanuary 17, 2017 at 6:38 pm #

          Thanks, Barb. I appreciate you letting me know!!!! xoxox

  2. Scott PralinskyJanuary 14, 2017 at 1:44 pm #

    What a true blessing you had great people looking out for you. I feel the same. My heart truly goes out to those who have no mentors nor folks to remind them how beautiful and smart they are. Thank god for the teachers – and other great people – who continue to inspire our younger generations.

    • MO VEARJanuary 14, 2017 at 2:04 pm #

      Thanks, Scott. I do feel truly blessed.

      And you’re one of those people too, helping to make other lives better, so thank YOU for all that you and Casa Milagro are doing to help in the fight against human sex-trafficking! (For any of my readers who want to know more about how to help in this silent epidemic, you can go to Scott’s web site: casamilagro.org to learn more and to watch a PSA that I was honored to write for him.)

      Thanks again, Scott.

      • Scott PralinskyJanuary 14, 2017 at 2:06 pm #

        Thanks for the kind words Mo. All I can say though is, “Takes one to know one!”

  3. JENNYJanuary 13, 2017 at 9:42 pm #

    Glad Mr Webster cared enough about you to get you into a successful college program. Guess in this case, you just want to pass it on to someone else. Help someone that has the ability, but not the means to be more, or to be a success in life. This is how this article made me feel. There are good people everywhere (teacher in this case) who want the best for their students and want them to achieve the best advantages to make their lives productive. We just have to go out on a limb or out of our safety zone to reach out and help others. Obviously you need to be cognitive of the people in your radar and be willing to help them. Yes, it would be helpful to know some people in higher places who could assist you in these efforts.
    Mo, you are such a neat writer. You put yourself out there to let others learn lessons and smile or just feel your love and warmth. Keep writing. You are so gifted. Jenny

    • MO VEARJanuary 14, 2017 at 1:32 pm #

      Thanks so much for your comment, Jenny! I am very fortunate. I shudder to think of all the wrong turns I came close to making; at least the ones I made were not so bad that I couldn’t make U-turns… 🙂 Thank you for all you do to help those in your radar!!!!

  4. SherieJanuary 13, 2017 at 8:54 pm #

    Cheers is right!

    • MO VEARJanuary 14, 2017 at 12:56 pm #

      Right on, sis! xoxox

  5. Virge VanderboeghJanuary 13, 2017 at 7:54 pm #

    Hi Mo,
    Loved reading this story – even tho you’d told parts of it to me once before, bc it truly tells a story of LaLumiere and some of the caring people that we’ve known there who’ve really & truly cared about you, Andy & Andy & Sally & Ida. Thanks for sharing your writings, I’m a huge fan!

    • MO VEARJanuary 14, 2017 at 1:35 pm #

      Virge!!!!!! So happy to see you here! Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts. LaLumiere is truly a unique community; we were all so lucky to be in the hands of such caring people! All the best to you and Al.

  6. GTJanuary 13, 2017 at 7:11 pm #

    Hi Mo,
    Another exceptional blog: funny yet throwing off multiple sparks of insight.

    Our words and actions “…add up to the sum of a life…” Deftly put. And I love the phrase “the classroom of our lives…” Our entire life is a classroom isn’t it? The day we stop learning is the day we stop living. Our personal classroom is populated with those who help us advance and those who do not. So it is just as you say Mo, who we know can be more important than the what.

    • MO VEARJanuary 14, 2017 at 1:22 pm #

      THANKS, GT. I love the word “sparks;” I’m glad you felt that. Appreciate your taking the time to read and give me feedback!

  7. AndrewJanuary 13, 2017 at 4:29 pm #

    I am glad I know you!!!!

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