It’s all about the roles we play.
And now, I am trying to walk a mile in Randall Kenneth Jones’s writer/journalist shoes. Though he has written about me, it’s my turn to write about him. And I am certainly not a writer or journalist; then again, my mother was both.
This feels oddly familiar. It reminds me of the role reversal in the film Erin Brockovich, where Julia Roberts portrayed, oh yes, me! Oh heavens, this now got stranger. Erin, Randy, Julia, my Mom? Who is who and how does it all make sense? Though my motto is to “right wrong,” today, it’s “try to write right!”
Hmm, as Randy is theatrical, should I approach this introduction as a script? When Erin Met Randy? Brockovich Jones and the Temple of Doom? Erin Jones’s Diary? Of course, there’s Randy’s dream of starring in Erin Brockovich, The Musical. His performance of “They’re Called Boobs, Ed” would definitely bring down the house!
Whatever the title, it would be fun because Randy is fun and Randy has a BIG personality, which is why we hit it off instantaneously. When we first met, it felt like finding my long-lost brother—one who immediately understood my thoughts. We were instant kindred spirits.
But my role today is to tell you about my friend. And when I think about it, Show Me is actually an investigation of our various roles—at work, at home and everywhere in between. Investigation seems to be our thing.
I remember the day I met Randy. I immediately felt at ease. He was—and is—so happy, fearless and open. He is quick-witted and downright funny. Time spent with Randy is guaranteed to make you laugh. He is not only engaged in each conversation, he is caring, compassionate and thoughtful as to what he writes and how he shares a person’s story. Humor aside, Randy is focused and a deep thinker. Yes, he is all of this and more.
Part of our connection likely comes from our very similar upbringings. We are both from college towns in the Midwest; however, I must clarify: I am from Kansas and he is from Missouri. While Randy and I do not “rival” in our values, we do rival in our sports teams. He is an (ugh) University of Missouri Tiger and I am a loud-and-proud Kansas Jayhawker.
Now, I don’t want to date myself—or Randy, for that matter—but we are only two years apart in age. We share the same historic news events and pop culture influencers. We are from a generation born of Midwest values: respect, honesty and something that I talk about all the time—a characteristic taught to me by my mother—stick-to-itiveness. Don’t try telling me or Randy “no.” Just give in and say “yes” immediately ‘cause we’re not giving up until we get you there!
Despite our similarities, I find Randy to be so unique. He is like no other journalist I have encountered. He loves people and he LISTENS—key word here, LISTENS.
Randy takes “our” Midwest upbringing and applies it to his writing. He sees the positive in people—he focuses intently on his interviewees and their stories. And here come his investigative skills: he tells it like it is, but does so with RESPECT and GRACE.
Show Me is a direct result of Randy’s obsession to bring a positive voice to journalism alongside a renewed focus on common sense. And no one knows better than me how obsessed you can get when your goal is simply to do the right thing and help other people.
After all, he is from Missouri and, for those of you who don’t know, Missouri is the show-me state. Need I say more?
As Randy recently said: “Though I left the Midwest in 1984, it took me over 30 years, 100+ interviews and writing a book to discover that I never really left. When all is said and done, I’m still just Nellie Pearl and Kenny’s somewhat awkward, overexcited and, thankfully, idealistic son.”
Show Me is the written proof of Randy’s journey, his character, his inspired-yet-traditional ideals, and his Midwestern roots.
Then again, as a famous Kansan once said, “There’s no place like home.”
Randall Kenneth Jones & Erin Brockovich photo by Kevin Randall Jones.