Finding some faith at the Little League park I went away alone, With nothing left but faith.
— The Cure
Forget urban renewal; sometimes we just need a little faith renewal.
Whether it’s in a certain group of people, particular institutions, our chosen heroes, our elected leaders or even in the supreme being we worship ... as that great philosopher George Michael put it, “You gotta have faith-a-faith-a-faith.”
I had my sometimes lagging faith in this electronic media/social network/Nickelodeon-addicted younger generation bolstered Tuesday night at, of all places, a Little League ball park. And it’s one of the best things that’s happened to me in a while.
I was walking to my car after watching the Pirates play excellent baseball in shutting down the Yankees 5-0, thinking about the game I’d just watched and also reminiscing about some of my own “glory days” exploits on the diamond. That’s when I heard the “Thud.”
I looked up just in time to see a couple of things: A half-full Mountain Dew bottle that had just landed smack-dab in the middle of the hood of my car — and, thus, the “Thud” — sliding to the ground, and two youngsters running away from the immediate vicinity.
It wasn’t that big a deal ... my car is not exactly something I use to overcompensate for any of my other various shortcomings and it’s not ever going to be a “classic vehicle” ... OK, it’s pretty much a piece of junk in the overall scheme of things, especially if you’re one of those people who looks upon a conveyance as a status symbol. It, however, is my piece of junk, and I like it just fine. It gets me to and from work.
After concluding that the potential damage to the car (remember the “Thud”) was trivial, I decided to address the other matter that caught my eye: The two youngsters running in opposite directions.
The first one’s path brought him close to me, and I said to him, “Did you hit my car?”
His response was immediate: “It wasn’t me,” he said as he took off running in the opposite direction.
I saw the other youngster — who happened to be wearing a White Sox uniform — getting into the passenger side of a pickup truck. When he settled into the seat, he looked in my direction. I’d already opened the door to my car and was getting inside when I decided not to just let this slide. I walked over to the pickup about the time the gentleman driving was cranking up.
To my surprise, the youngster — who looked to be somewhere in the 8- to 11-year-old age range — rolled down his window as I approached.
“Did you hit my car with that bottle?” I asked. (Let me say here that I did not ask the question in an accusatory manner, and I wasn’t really mad. I think I just wanted to see what the young man would say.)
This is what he said as he looked me directly in the eyes: “Yes, sir, I did, but I didn’t mean to. The bottle slipped out of my hand. I’m really sorry I hit your car.”
(I have goosebumps on my arms right now just typing in the young man’s words.)
What was just as encouraging was the response of the gentleman whom I assume was the youngster’s father. He’d been talking to someone else and hadn’t heard the young man’s reply, so he said, “What do you tell this man?”
Before the youngster said anything else, I told the gentleman, “Your guy’s already apologized. And I can’t tell you how proud I am of him for owning up to what he did. It’s no problem at all; y’all have a great night.”
Heck, as I got back into my car a much happier person, I was drawn wistfully back to the days of helping my bricklayer Dad in the summertime and the time I —thinking about a game I had that night — mock threw a pitch while holding half a brick in my hand. The brick slipped out, hit the owner of the house we were working on in the back of his head, bounced off and hit one of my dad’s crew in the back. I was petrified ... so I could relate to this youngster’s slip.
So, young man: I don’t know who you are or who the gentlemen with you Tuesday night was, but I want to say: (a) don’t worry about the bottle hitting my car; no harm, no foul; (b) you showed a lot of courage in speaking the truth when it would have been much easier to just lie, and (c) thank you so much for reminding me that, no matter how bad some of your peers’ actions might sometimes be, there are still some really good kids out there in our community.
That may not mean a whole lot to you right now. But trust me, it means the world to your parents and a lot of other people you don’t even know.
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.