I was walking north on 15th Street NW in Washington, D.C., when I ran into one of my former clients from the food distribution program at Sojourners Neighborhood Center. It was 6:15 a.m., and there were signs he had already been drinking. (I was headed to the 7-Eleven for coffee, to drown one of those I-don't-want-to-get-up-and-go-to-work mornings in an ocean of caffeine.)
"How ya' doin'?" I asked him.
"Fine," he answered. "How you doin'?" His words were very slurred.
"Man, I am not doin' well at all. I didn't feel like getting up this morning. I wish I were still giving out food with you guys." Having initiated my little pity party, I continued to complain and bemoan my fate. He got tired of listening.
"Hold up, man," he said, tipsily. "You woke up this mornin', right?"
"You out here walkin', right?"
"You goin' to a job, right?"
"Yeah, that's right."
"Well, you all right then! Whatcha' complainin' for?"
Having been thusly restored to my senses, I realized that I really was all right.
Ken Medema heard this story from me in a workshop he gave at the Sojourners 20th Anniversary Festival in 1991. After exclaiming "Oh, wow!" and pausing for about five seconds, he composed the following blues lick on his synthesizer:
Come mornin', I don' wanna move
Come mornin', tireda the same ol' groove
I like t'be changin' my circumstances
I like t'have a chance t' try some other kinda chances
I got those wake-up-in-the-mornin' blues.
Saw him walkin' down the city street
Pushin' that shoppin' cart, kinda shufflin' his feet
I said, "How you boy?"
He said, "I'm as fine as I can be."
I said, "Well that's good enough for you but it ain't that good for me."
He said, "What's the matter?"
I said, "It's a bad bad mornin'."
He said, "You woke up?"