JUMP! – Get Unstuck, © 2010, Robert S. Tipton, All Rights Reserved, Alden-Swain Press

Table of Contents Character Summaries

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Chapter 2:

Ernesto Martinez

Monday: About 11:00 a.m. CST
(Chicago)


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He’d made up his mind. The speculation from the bloggers, the tone of the emails and Facebook conversations involving other recipients of Falcon’s generosity, and the general chatter in the world pushed him to action. Ernesto had to go see Mr. Falcon. Now.

“Falcon Foundation a House of Cards—Here Comes a Tornado” read one headline. Another suggested, “Franklin Falcon Building a Catastrophic Failure?” Each of the stories was long on speculation and nearly devoid of specifics. No surprise there. Franklin Falcon was one of the most private individuals in the world, someone who shared few details about his foundation or his personal life. But the guessing game was starting to make more sense, and the facts that were surfacing, if indeed they were facts, were troubling. The Falcon Foundation appeared to be in major financial distress and was potentially at risk of defaulting on millions of dollars—maybe tens of millions—of payments coming due. Families would be devastated as a result, and Franklin’s reputation would forever be stained.

Franklin based his Falcon Foundation for Families on his core belief that everyone—no matter where they came from—deserved an equal opportunity to succeed. Franklin didn’t believe in equal outcomes. No, he was passionate about equal opportunities. Consequently, rather than offering handouts, he focused on acquiring dignity through work and opportunity through vision. Franklin transformed his foundation’s core beliefs into mandates: Overcome cultural and language barriers; provide decent housing, affordable health care, and quality education; and leverage the sense of optimism and hope embodied by those seeking a better life. After more than four decades of exemplary support to motivated and successful families, everything seemed poised to implode.

Ernesto found he still had the foundation’s phone number committed to memory. Although he hadn’t used it in a dozen years or so, in college he’d used it on a near-monthly basis. He dialed the familiar number.

“Good Morning, Falcon Foundation for Families, developing the future leaders of tomorrow, how may I direct your call?”

“Mr. Falcon’s assistant, please,” he said to the business-like receptionist.

“One moment.”

As Ernesto waited on hold, the recorded voice of Franklin Falcon gently spoke to him about the responsibilities and opportunities offered to Falcon’s Families.

“. . . call or write for more information. The Falcon Foundation or Families—helping . . .”
“Betty Aghassi. How may I help you?” Even though she’d been in America for more than 20 years, her voice still bore traces of her Iranian heritage— including the guttural “gh” she used when saying her name. Her family had escaped the revolution and war that tore her country apart in the late 1980s. Once she answered, he discovered he’d been holding his breath for several seconds, as an audible sigh is what greeted her from Ernesto’s end.

“Hello?”

“Oh, sorry,” he stammered. The stress he was feeling was acute. Ernesto just didn’t know what he’d find when he got to Falcon.

“Ms. Aghassi, my name is Ernesto Martinez. I don’t think we’ve met before—my family is a Falcon Family—we were selected when I was about 10 years old, I think.”

“Ernesto—oh, my. Yes, I know your name, but I’m not sure we’ve met either. I do know about your accident; we had the newspaper clippings on the board here for a couple of years. My goodness, you were lucky to have been found—and in very good health, too, if I remember correctly. What can I do for you?”

The accident. A quick flashback to Iceland and the disastrous snowmobiling trip he’d taken on the LangjÖkull Glacier. The second largest glacier in Iceland was notorious for rapid and potentially dangerous weather changes, and the snowmobiling group he was part of had become engulfed in a freak blizzard. The group lost their leader (who had the only GPS in the group) when he apparently fell into a deep fissure. Only three of the total of nine members survived to be rescued two days later. Ernesto was one of the lucky ones.

“I’m planning a trip to Colorado within the next week or so, and I want to drop in and spend some time with Mr. Falcon if he’s going to be in town.”

Ernesto was in a good position at work to take a few days off. He had no short-term client-related commitments, and he could do what he needed to do from anywhere. In fact, much of his work as a quantum mechanics consultant could be done in cyberspace. He often wondered how people survived for so many centuries without the Internet.

“Ernesto, I’m sure he’d love to see you. Having one of our kids visit is a highlight for all of us. What about Thursday? He’s available for lunch and maybe for a bit during the early afternoon, too. He’s planning a family vacation in Hawaii next week and will be gone for about three weeks. So it’s Thursday or about a month from now. Is that . . .”

“Perfect,” Ernesto replied just a little too quickly. He caught himself, relaxed, and said, “I’ll be there before noon, and I’ll plan to take him to lunch. Is there a restaurant he prefers?”
“He loves the Black Steer—it’s just a short walk from here. Ernesto, I’ll put you down in his calendar and make the reservations for lunch. If there’s any problem from your end, please call and let me know.”

“Thank you.” He hung up.

Ernesto wasn’t sure he felt much better about things, but at least he’d started taking action. Movement felt positive. It reminded him of one of the lessons he’d re-learned in Iceland: “Nothing changes until something changes.” Memories surrounding that statement suddenly came flooding back to him—Mr. Strickland, physics class, JFK High School. Ernesto didn’t appreciate Mr. Strickland’s wisdom as a 17-year-old junior; in fact, he thought his teacher was downright weird. But, as Ernesto found his groove in college, he became captivated by the world of science, and he decided to make a career out of trying to understand how the universe fits together.

One of his clearest memories of Mr. Strickland was of him saying, “It might sound obvious, but without a first step toward something else, energy remains in a state of equilibrium. The forces of inertia are at play (an object at rest tends to stay at rest), and nothing happens.” No-thing happens. Ernesto knew his decision to do something about what he was feeling about the Falcon Foundation was by itself the first step in transformation.

Ernesto checked the web for the best price on flights from Chicago to Denver. After all, Thursday was just three days from now.
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Table of Contents Character Summaries

JUMP! – Get Unstuck, © 2010, Robert S. Tipton, All Rights Reserved, Alden-Swain Press