If you get the chance, please click here and go to the New York TIMES website to read a very nice article about Steven Tyler, and how his "rock 'n' roll affability" is doing so well replacing the acerbic Simon Cowell and his tight t-shirts as star judge in the star chamber known as American Idol. It's funny; Peggy and I watched AI faithfully for many years and so far this year, we haven't tuned in. For one thing, the early shows feature a succession of oddballs, lunatics and plain old nutbags, and you sort of feel as if you're picking on the village fool for watching people who are clearly deluded about their ability to carry a tune.
Then again, many people with similar delusions are earning a handsome dollar singing on records, in concerts and in nightclubs, so what do I know?
And when they get down to the serious competition among the two dozen or so finalists, we will probably watch again. But one night we happened to tune in to the last few minutes of the show. We were getting ready to watch FOX45 News At Ten. There must have been a snowstorm going on and we figured it would be a way to see the weather forecast and also get a good look at Keith Daniels standing at a salt dome as front-end loaders loaded up the back ends of dump trucks with enough salt to line every tequila glass from here to Juarez. At the end of the Idol show that night they showed a young man whose fiance had been in a car crash and is now, so sadly, afflicted with huge physical challenges. The TIMES article goes on about the affecting way that Steven Tyler (real name: Stephen Tallarico) had of greeting the woman and encouraging her. He was most kind, and he showed the bearing of a man who has met thousands of people and put them at ease. The paper goes on to say that he knows how to do that because he is a professional.
To me, there are few words of higher praise than to be called a "professional." It indicates that someone has been down this road a few times and knows what she or he is doing, and can handle the unexpected as well as the expected. Let's face it: everyone loves young people and hopes they do well as they embark on their careers, but who wants to be the first patient for a brand-new brain surgeon? Put me in the hands of someone who knows what to do when something goes south.
A pro is one who can handle everything that comes their way with equanimity and grace. That's when you can really spot a professional: when a curveball comes their way. I think of that goofy weather guy Chad Myers on CNN when Katrina was hitting the Gulf and how he tossed a little hissy (and his clipboard) as Carol Costello literally begged him to explain things in terms that could be understood by breakfasting Americans who do not hold advanced degrees in meteorology. Watch him - it's the best definition of unprofessionalism I can offer.
A professional is where he or she is supposed to be at the time he or she is supposed to be there, trained, prepared and ready. Have you ever had an appointment with someone who was not there at the appointed time, and then strolled in fifteen minutes later, wheezing about the traffic, or the lack of dry towels at the gym, or who parked in their private parking spot?
So, big ups to Steven Tyler. He was really nice to another person, and that's a rare thing. You can see the entire sequence right here and know that he's the kind of man who can step out of his flamboyant persona and reach out to another person who really needs a boost.