I will be in the state capital tomorrow to receive an award. Like most folks in these instances, I feel humbled and under-qualified, but I’m learning that above all these occasions give me a chance to publicly thank those who actually earned the award: The many teachers and staff members (including Gordy the janitor and his jangle of keys – if he hadn’t let me back in the building to get my homework time after time, we wouldn’t be having this conversation) who – with more patience than I’ll ever understand – guided me on the journey from the kindergarten room of New Auburn Elementary through the zig-zag up the hallway from first to sixth grade, then around the bend to the high school hallway, from which in 1983 I wandered into the world. Any readiness I might have shown was due to the staff and faculty of the New Auburn Schools, my parents, and my classmates. We were all in it together.
So tomorrow, I’ll be thanking them all. My speech isn’t completely ready but I’m not worried, because it’s right there in my heart.
Now my favorite part of the story which is about the blessings of coming from roughneck stock, where if you don’t govern your ego, someone will govern it for you: One of the first people to contact me about this award is a present faculty member at the school. He’s a few years older than I. He was the high school quarterback when I was just a little 7th grade grubber. On Friday nights they let some of us middle-schoolers tote gear and run water bottles at the games. So he sends me an email about the award. Warm congratulations, closing with:
“Great work WATERBOY!”
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