"Oh, pretty good I guess."

"How do you feel?"

"Well, my head doesn't hurt any more and... hey, where are all the gnats?"

"> "Oh, pretty good I guess."

"How do you feel?"

"Well, my head doesn't hurt any more and... hey, where are all the gnats?"

">

First day on the new job

"Welcome Coach Brodie. How was your trip?"</p> "Oh, pretty good I guess."</p> "How do you feel?"</p> "Well, my head doesn't hurt any more and... hey, where are all the gnats?"</p>

"This is Heaven, coach. We don't have gnats."

"Thank God."

"You're welcome. Say, sorry to have to call you up so early but we're in a bit of jam up here."

"How so?"

"Well, with all of the troubles in the world lately, I'm a little short handed."

"So how can I help?"

"That's the spirit. In fact, your spirit precedes you."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, my Son has been looking for an administrative assistant of sorts, someone to rally the troops, keep the morale up. Kind of a number-three man in charge."

"So why me?"

"Are you kidding? The search committee earmarked your application a long time ago. And the references have been impeccable."

"References?"

"Sure, you ought to hear what folks are saying about you. They're calling you a master builder, a carpenter of men's character. Your leadership skills alone are rivaled by only one guy I can think of, and of course I admit, I'm a little partial to Him."

"I'm humbled."

"No need to be. It all seems to be true. You see, I've done a little bit of checking on you myself. I have discovered that you have no vices whatsoever, with the exception of life itself. I'm impressed with your gusto and the way you attack each day. It seems to me that every time you reached the top of one mountain, you looked around for a taller mountain. It's been a long time since I've seen somebody with your knack for handling a challenge."

Thanks."

"Don't mention it. But listen, I'm not the only one who feels that way."

"Really?"

"Are you kidding, didn't you see all of those people at your field on Sunday?"

"Yeah, there sure were a bunch of folks there. I didn't know I had that many friends."

"Oh come on."

"Well, it just seemed strange seeing them all together like that."

"They obviously were pleased with the job you did."

"Well, I had an awful lot of help."

"I know that, but every project needs someone to take charge and you were clearly that guy. Why, I even heard one of your friends call you their quiet leader."

"Yeah, well he's a pretty good friend."

>Coach, you have a lot of good friends."

"Yeah, I was pretty lucky wasn't I?"

"So were they."

"If you say so."

"I do, and so do they."

"Who are they?"

"Every person whose life you touched. Every person you coached, every person who benefited from your time and generosity. Walter even threw up a prayer the other night and reminded me of the Special Olympics the year you made sure each child left the track that day with something special."

"Ol' Dog, huh?"

"Yep. You remember the day I called his momma home. You weren't feeling so hot that afternoon and still you took the time to go to his house, you picked him up and took him for a ride. Just to talk and try to make him feel better."

"I remember."

"That act of kindness and hundreds more like it are the reasons you were so important to them and why you are so important to me."

"Okay, okay, that's enough yakkin'. Let's get to work. What's first on the list?"

Tom Mark's column that appeared in the Tuesday, June 4, 2002 edition of the Tifton Gazette. It is appearing with permission.

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