ONE ACT OF KINDNESS
It’s an especially cold and rainy week this week in North Texas. That’s right, the State Fair of Texas is going on, and although temperatures in the high forties isn’t the norm, rainy weather is.
When my kids were growing up, they would often say, “Daaaaad, that’s not fair.” I had a pat answer for them, “If you want fair, the Fair is in October, and it always rains.” Boy, is it true this year!
I remember taking my oldest son, TJ to the State Fair over twenty years ago when he was not yet a teenager. It was the first day of the fair and it was uncommonly cold on that day, like it is now…cold enough to wear a jacket.
We went to the car show and strolled through the exhibits and pavilions. We rode the rides and finally we went to the carnival booths. There had always been one game I had tried at carnivals since I was a kid. The booth had air guns that shot BBs and was shaped like a machine gun. The target was a red star and the object was to completely shoot out the star. I will tell you, I had spent a lot of money at that game, only to come close, but no prize.
This time with my young son, I shot out the star on the first try. The BB’s came out in rapid fire and I shot a tight circle pattern just around the tips of the star. It really looked like I had finally done it. The carney grabbed the rope and pulled the target through the pulleys and snapped it off of the clothes pin it was attached to. At first glance, there wasn’t a speck of the red star left. But when he turned it over, there it was. A piece of “hanging chad” with a small, but unmistakable crimson point of a star. The piece of paper was barely hanging on, but there was no denying that I had once again come close to the nearly impossible task of shooting out the star. I know a grimaced look came over my face and the man looked right at me and tore the tiny piece of paper off and smiled. “Looks like a winner he announced.” It was a look from one dad to another. A message of understanding. From the wall of the booth he proudly and loudly took down a bicycle and handed it to me…..a bicycle. Loudly and with enthusiasm he announced to the crowded Midway, “We have a winner, HEY! We have a winner over here.” As a crowd of perfect strangers gathered around, I was brimming with pride as I handed the bicycle to my son. That pride was nothing as TJ wheeled that bicycle throughout the Midway. People would stop and ask him: “How did you get that! With a big smile he would tell them, “My dad won it for me over there,” as he pointed toward the place where we won it. It’s my guess, that was exactly the effect the man wanted to accomplish. I’m sure the line of takers that formed at his boot more than paid for the price of a bicycle.
But, that carney gave TJ and me a gift so valuable. If that bike had been made of solid gold, it still wouldn’t equal the memory I cherish to this day. Even thinking about it now in my mind, my grown son is a kid again, and I am his dad.
I just realized that moment may have well been a pivotal one in TJ’s life. I can’t help but smile with pride that he is now the marketing manager at Austin Park and Pizza on Highway 35 north of Austin. He makes kids and their families happy as he gives them moments to cherish on go-carts, boats, wall climbing, bowling, laser tag, and yes, games for prizes. Sometimes one act of kindness can change the course of a person’s life.
To that Carney, whoever you are, Thank You.