“Would you like two tickets to tonight’s Yankees/Astros game?” I asked him.”Wow. How much?”
He was a college student here in town. Grew up in Dripping Springs, a little town west of Austin. It was 100 degrees outside and he was cleaning our car on Friday. Friday the 13th actually. He was polite. Clean cut. Hard working. Did a great job on our car in the heat. Smiled. Friendly. Hard worker. I was impressed with him. He said he had never been to a game in Houston to see the Astros.
I was supposed to be in Florida on Friday night for Colonel Karen White’s retirement ceremony. But I just could not make it. I called Karen last Monday and told her it just wasn’t going to happen. She said, “Doesn’t it feel good when you know something is not going to work out and you just admit you can not do everything you want to do in life?” She was gracious. So Karen.
Then I was supposed to be in Houston on Friday night, having accepted months ago tickets from Brenda and Berry two tickets to see the Astros play the Yankees. We just were not able to make it.
So here I was in San Marcos at 2 p.m. on Friday afternoon, not in Florida and not heading to Houston. I was in San Marcos, wishing I was in Florida or Houston. But I was here, at Conley’s Car Wash. Not nearly as exciting as Florida or yelling at the hated Yanks.
Ben Ingram was his name. I told him that if the mailman named Terry did not want the tickets then he could have the tickets. He asked again, “How much?”
Terry called and said he had other plans and could not take the tickets. You could tell he was disappointed! So I turned to Ben and told him, “Here are two tickets. Free. Want them? They are your tip for cleaning my car. You need to be on the road by 3 to get to Houston for game time. Plus, I HATE the Yankees anyway.”
He grinned from ear to ear. Said he would have to go ask his boss if he could leave work early. I told him to tell his boss Mark that Gary Smith had given him the two tickets and that Mark needed to let him go. He said, “You know Mark?” “Yep. Tell him I said to let you go.”
He walked over to his immediate boss, one below Mark, and they talked. Soon the entire group of guys and girls were turning to look at me and Pam as they stared and pointed and looked our way. You could tell…they were buzzing about that tip that Ben had just received.
Ben came back and said that he could leave early. I asked him which one of his co-workers he was taking with him to the game. “None of them. There is a girl I am going to surprise and ask.” I told him I thought she would be impressed. “Hope so,” he grinned and said.
I handed him the tickets with Friday the 13th date on them. “Your lucky day,” I told him. He agreed. I handed him $5 cash and he handed it back, saying “You already gave me tickets.” “Yeah, but you will need parking money.” And I told him where to park.
“How do I get to Houston?,” he asked. He was so excited. I gave him directions and told him it was easy.
He was one very happy, working college student.
Old School. Generosity. Fun to give gifts to surprise people who are working hard in life. Old School. When I come up to bat now in our city softball league, the young players on the other team all start yelling out, “Old School.” That means they wake up because they are about to be surprised as to where I will hit the ball. Old School is a compliment. You do things the old fashioned way. You play hard, surprise, run hard, hit to all fields.
Oh, and Ben will now be playing outfield for our church softball team starting next week. Played ball all of his life. Loves baseball. I told him the tickets were a Signing Bonus.
Oh, and I got those $90 tickets free from Brenda and Berry.
Oh, and I got the $30 car wash free from Mark. He does that for me once in a while just because he is Mark and because I am Daniel’s father. Daniel has worked hard for him for two years. Mark is Old School and knows how to say thanks. Mark and Will Conley came to Daniel’s graduation reception. Daniel was quite surprised by their appearance.
Thomas Edison once said that many people don’t recognize opportunity when it comes along because opportunity is most often dressed in coveralls and looks like work.
The Harvest is great and the laborers are few. Old School. Jesus said to just go out and Love and Work Hard for the Kingdom. Give it away. Brenda did. Berry did. Mark did.
God our Father gave it all to us and for us. Love is Old School. Simple. Basic.
Ben called me on his cell phone from the game on Friday. He sounded real happy with his date, who was impressed. They got to the park. It was easy. Mark told me yesterday that everyone at Conley’s was buzzing all day about the tickets that Ben got as a tip on Friday. Life is all a Gift from our Father, freely given joyfully to us. Go work hard at giving it away. Enjoy. Amen.
By GARY L. SMITH
Reverend – Christ the Redeemer Church