Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Words Do Make A Difference

He was waiting to pick his wife up as she returned from work on the commuter train. He wasn't exactly feeling good about himself these days. His body was letting him know he was in the middle fifties. His job had let him know that when they "down sized", a nice word for firing, him citing many excuses but really because he got too old with too many perks so it was easier to give him a package and ship him off. While they let him get early retirement he was too young just to let it go at that besides they needed the income since the pension and his wife's salary wasn't enough to support the family.  Trying to find work only left him feeling worse about himself as he continued to hear he was either under-qualified or over-qualified. Thirty-five years ago he turned down a low minor league offer from the Brooklyn Dodgers. Back in the day they paid practically nothing to those in the low minors so he figured he could do better outside of Baseball. He probably did since it was not easy to get to the big leagues and he did okay in business. His first job had him playing for the department team in the company league. As he reflected on all this he began to doubt the fact that he used to be a pretty good ballplayer, in fact he had doubts that he was any good at anything.

Out of nowhere it seems this guy came up to him and asked if he was Sam Last. He said  he was. The guy said you probably don't recognize me but I'm Tommy Ryan we worked at OTC some years ago. Sam didn't want to seem rude but he had to admit he didn't remember the guy. Tommy then proceeded to tell him that they had played ball together at OTC. They gabbed a bit and then Tommy said I have to tell you the way you played always stayed with me. I could've swore that if given the chance you could've made it. Tommy went on, "You weren't the fastest guy but anything hit your way you ran and got. There weren't many balls hit over your head or that dropped in front of you.".  The train came in the guys shook hands and the wives were picked up and driven home. Sam and Tommy never met again but that chance meeting restored Sam's confidence. He thought I was good, at least someone else besides me thought so.

With restored confidence this chance meeting restored, Sam lifted himself out of the doldrums and carved new career which got him through the financial and mental doldrums that can come to a middle aged man who felt his life was coming to a quicker ending that he wasn't prepared to accept. The fact was that whenever he felt beaten down he recalled the chance meeting and Tommy Ryan's words which always let him get up off the floor and somehow win the battle. Even now some twenty years later he still draws on Tommy's words to restore confidence in himself. Maybe he couldn't play ball anymore but he could use that experience of accomplishment and the athletic mindset to channel adversity in a winning situation. Maybe Tommy was his Guardian Angel in disguise ready to lift him up when he was down. Whatever!

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