I just finished my 9-mile ride on the stationery bike at 24 Hour Fitness. My morning ritual is to end my workout routine by going into the jacuzzi to prepare for the day by saying my prayers.

I was on my way to the jacuzzi wearing my bulky old-school headset listening to my favorite Tower of Power song. I was oblivious to everyone working out in the gym when a man grabbed my arm. He took me by surprise.

I did not recognize him. When you are at the gym at 5 a.m. every day, you are part of a very exclusive club of dedicated gym rats. You generally recognize about 90 percent of the consistently early raisers running or lifting beside you. I had never seen this man before.

I took my headphones off and before I could say “good morning” he sternly asked, “When is the Music Media Jam going to be over?” His tone reminded me of being pulled over in my dad’s blue station wagon filled with my crazy high school friends and the police officer sticking his head through the car window asking if we had been drinking. Not that it’s ever happened, but if it did, I imagined that’s what it would have sounded like.

A curious question asked in a very unfriendly way by this stranger. Maybe I heard him wrong and misinterpreted his intentions. Growing up in my rough neighborhood, you have a built-in instinct with an automatic reaction to being approached in this manner.

So I took a half step back and hoped he would recognize I was going into my Bruce Lee fighting stance when he asked again, “When is the Music Media Jam going to be over?” He squeezed my arm a little harder but this time with a hint of smile. He ended his question with, “That darn Herb Benham.”

Another Benham fan I thought. I can’t get away from them. They are everywhere.

So I withdrew my Bruce Lee persona and explained it was several weeks away.

“It is being held June 24 at the Crystal Palace.”

“Good. We can’t wait for it to be over,” he laughingly said as he let go of my arm.

He introduced himself only as a member of Herb Benham’s bike riding buddies.

“For the past month, every time we are around Herb he is always singing those darn songs! I think we know the words better than he does,” he exclaimed.

The songs he was referring to are the two songs Herb will be singing Saturday night at the sold-out Crystal Palace to help raise money for medical expenses for Kern County families on their cancer journey.

Proceeds from the Media Music Jam benefit the Kern County Cancer Fund, whose mission is to financially assist cancer patients in need of screening, diagnosis and cancer-related treatment.

As the producer of the Media Music Jam, I am pleased to report there will be 26 media personalities and community leaders singing live with Thee Majestics this Saturday. Each one has been musically irritating or entertaining their friends and co-workers like Herb for several months while getting ready for the show.

The media performers have brought their own style and energy to rehearsals. And for those lucky ones of you who have tickets to the show, I am sure you will be surprised by their live performances.

Herb, like all the Media Jam performers, have come a long way since their first rehearsals. And like parents on graduation night, Thee Majestics will proudly watch each one of the performers walk across the stage to honor and recognize in song those who have survived, are on their journey or to honor those lost to cancer — many of whom are their own family members and friends.

Unlike the gentleman from the gym, I will be a little sad when the Media Music Jam is over Saturday night. I have made lots of new friends whom I will miss seeing at rehearsals.

Yes, the Media Music Jam is lots of work, but incomparably and vastly different, so is fighting cancer.

For the performers, the band, my family and friends who helped with Media Jam, it’s our small way of helping them in that fight.

Email contributing columnist Steve Flores at floressteve32@yahoo.com. His work appears here every third Monday; the views expressed are his own.

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