|The Kid's Tiger preparing for her first flight.|
When I mistakenly took my second (and final) shot at making a multi-level marketing business work, I fully bought into their system of reading the recommended books once a month and listening to every recommended CD I could afford. A few of the recommended books held Amos up as an excellent example of someone who took the lemons life handed him and made a cookie empire out of them. Even after he sold his initial business and rights to his likeness, he was portrayed as someone who just couldn't stay away from the business, so he launched Uncle Noname's Cookies.
When I started thumbing through the Southwest Airlines Spirit magazine, I found myself drawn to an in-depth article at the 77 year old entrepreneurial icon. And halfway to my connecting flight in Baltimore, I lost my respect for Amos. The article talks about his son Greg this way,
Greg wrote a letter, which his father brings up twice in our conversations together—telling the story exactly the same way both times. “The letter said, I will never, ever, EVER see you or speak to you again in this life,” the senior Amos recalls. “But I knew I’d done nothing wrong. And I knew it would be just a matter of time before Greg came around.”
Recounted over the phone, Wally’s words throw Greg into spasms of laughter. “My father will frequently say, ‘I’m not responsible for what happened in the past.’ Even 30 years ago, in his first book, he was saying a different Wally did X, Y, and Z. But I no longer expect my father to understand my feelings.Amos was married to Greg's mother and continually stepped out on her, causing her to confront him about his infidelity and eventually divorce him. He decided to walk away, packing his bags and heading to Los Angeles without consideration for his sons. He repeated this with his second wife too, leaving another son without his dad.
You can try to justify this in a number of ways. His father had abandoned him when he was young, so you might say he was just following his father's example. His son Shawn wrote a series about his father for The Huffington Post called Cookies and Milk excuses it as a generational thing, where African-American men of his generation started families with no knowledge of how to hold a family together.
I don't think was or is solely an African-American thing. It purely an entitled male point of view with a lexicon all it's own. Phrases like "she trapped me" or "I need to discover who I am" absolve them of responsibility while, at best, telling their kids they aren't worthy of feeling the love of their father. At worse, these kids grow into adults who feel the same sense of entitlement over responsibility.
Earlier in the article, he said this:
Confronted, again, with the hard work of family and commitment, Amos again walked away. How does he explain such devastating indifference today? He doesn’t. He won’t. He can’t. “I’m not that guy anymore,” he says, pushing the vegetables around his plate at Buzz’s. “I have reflected on that behavior, and the question I ask myself is, how long do I continue to reflect on that behavior?”I should have stopped reading at that point because I knew this paragon of entrepreneurial spirit was also emotionally bankrupt.
Having lost almost everything but a small apartment in Hawaii he can hardly afford due to financial mismanagement and an apparent lack of perseverance, Amos is forced to try launching another cookie business. He's calling it Wamos Cookies. He says he's learned a lot and he is trying to sound humble. But until he can start to admit the damage he caused to his sons, it's a brand of cookies that will never make their way into my home.