Showing Up

           Recently one of Patti’s tennis teammates was heard complaining about the fact that she was not selected for a particular match simply because she had not been present at the beginning of league play. Notwithstanding a valid excuse, the players that showed up ready and fit to play at the start of the season competed for slots in the lineup. Those that drifted in after several weeks found all the competition slots filled. Good reasons aside, showing up on time is Rule One on the competitive playgrounds of life. 

The incident brought to mind my experience with the Kodak Park Athletic League during the summer of 1951; I was 11 years old.   After tryouts for the softball team, I was selected for second base. I felt up to the task of defending my piece of the field.  My confidence was further boosted because our neighbor, the wealthy owner of the local Ford Dealership, had gifted me my own softball bat for the season.  Before the first game, there I was, bike ready to travel to the field off the Memorial Bridge and inside Kodak Park, the largest employer and possibly landowner in all of Rochester. The ten of us from diverse parts of Rochester all showed up well in advance of the opening pitch.  That game was the highlight of my summer.  However, the stars were not all in alignment. My softball career was interrupted abruptly and with very little warning and I had the uncomfortable task of telling my coach I was going to miss the next game.  The trouble started because my older brother, Marty, a senior in high school, graduated a semester early and headed to Alfred College to enter midterm in December–he was fearful of being drafted into the Korean War conflict and had hedged his bets by applying early for college. This would be the last summer my dad could count on Marty to run the parking lot in his absence.   For some reason my parents decided to take their one and only vacation of their lifetimes in the summer of 1951. Marty did not want to babysit me. He planned to work the parking lot during business hours and then party in the evenings with the cash he made during the day. How did Marty get away with this?  Well he was the oldest son and the prince.  I had no option but to join my folks, my sister and her husband on the vacation trip to Atlantic City. I am certain my sister did not want to go either, but without her my dad could not read the maps provided by Triple A.  So there I was, crunched between my sister and her husband for the non-stop drive from upstate New York to southern New Jersey. I should have stayed when I got there– in l958 I went back for college at Rutgers in nearby New Brunswick.  But that’s another story.  At the missed game, the coach handed out t-shirts printed with our team’s name in bold lettering: RUBY (coincidentally that was also my sister’s name).  Because I missed that game, I never got my t-shirt.  All for not showing up.

No matter the excuse there no substitute for being prompt and in place when your name is called. I learned a good lesson and it has stayed with me. Kodak is gone and I no longer play softball, and these days, as an attorney, it is usually others showing up to meet with me. On time.

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