Second Chances

Sometimes I get to work too early. The sun had not made an appearance as I drove around the gym toward my parking place. I would not have been able to see Ole Sol if he had been up as it could not have been foggier if I had been in an old werewolf movie. We were still a few days away from the official start of school and were in the middle of the mandatory teacher workdays that, despite its name, allow teachers to get no work done. As I pulled into my parking place I noticed a car parked next to the fence separating the parking lot and the baseball field. I saw movement off to the side near our activity bus. It turned out to be a young man carrying a gas can and a cutoff garden hose. Hummmmmmmm. I wonder what he could be doing. Give the kid credit; he walked right over like he was supposed to be carrying a gas can and garden hose.

Despite recent true life horror stories, I have really never felt fearful in a school environment. This was not a normal school environment and I freely admit to certain feelings of, ah, trepidation. When he spoke I could actually smell gasoline on his breath. Rather than point out the dangers of huffing gasoline I just asked him what he was up to. He was good, I admit it, as cool under fire as any twenty year combat veteran. “Man, I just ran out of gas and the coach just came by and said I could get some gas.” Really, can you describe him for me? “Ahhhh, it was so dark and foggy I didn’t get a good look.” I decided to take a direct tack and told him what I knew to be true and who I was. Realizing he needed gasoline I was going to let him have it but at a price. He would have to return before five o’clock that afternoon with gas or money to replace it. If he didn’t I would call in his tag number to the police and have him arrested. He agreed but of course never showed up. I called his tag in and found out it had been reported stolen. Imagine that.

The following Wednesday, school started for real. I walked into my first period class ready to impart my vast knowledge of driving to the impressionable young minds that were now in my charge. As I called the roll I noticed a young man sitting on the front row trying to make himself look invisible. When I called his name he raised his hand and continued to think invisible, really invisible. “Son, do I know you?” He replied, “No Sir.” “Oh I believe I do and providence has delivered you right into my hands.” I told him to hang around when the bell rang. We came to a quick understanding since I had a name and access to an address. He returned the stolen car tag and spent the rest of the semester doing all of the odd jobs that I cooked up for him. He did such a good job I enlisted him to play football the next year.

This is a short excerpt from “Winning Was Never the Only Thing…” The complete book may be purchased or downloaded at the following link:

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