Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Life Lessons from a Ball Park Vendor

“Happy Father’s Day, bud. I see you brought your three daughters with you today!”

His thick Chicago accent made me smile right away, but his flattery won me over.

It was a perfect Father’s Day storm: beautiful evening, everyone home (minus the one who’s away for the summer), and free tickets (5th row!) to the Cubs game. So we rode that storm right into the city, bought our hot dogs, and headed to our seats.

“How many daughters do you have?” He sounded a little bit sorry when my husband told him three. And no sons.

“Aw, man, I have one—she’s eight—and she’s bustin’ my chops already. I don’t know how you do it, man.”

My husband smiled. The knowing smile of a DODO (Dad of Daughters Only) who’s almost on the other side of things. The smile of a dad who was just about to sit for a couple of hours with his almost-grown girls and enjoy a game.

We laughed about how quickly girls grow up these days; I warned him that the roller coaster was just about to begin. We bought our drinks and started to walk away.

“Well, bud, you enjoy the game now! Here, let me help you with those lids. There you go! Have fun now.”

B slipped him a small tip—dads of daughters gotta take care of each other, you know.

“Thanks, man. Thanks a lot! I really appreciate it.”

We headed to our seats, but something about that vendor stayed with me throughout the game. I kept thinking about his cheerful greeting, his kindness, the way he took time to talk to us about his daughter and to compliment B on his. The guy was clearly enjoying his night and made it his mission to make sure everyone else enjoyed theirs too.

Then I realized something. It was Father’s Day. He had kids—he had told us that much. But rather than complain about how all these dads at the ballpark were getting to spend time with their kids while he had to work, he just smiled and made sure that everyone around him was having fun.

Here was a guy who spread goodwill. Here was a guy who spread joy. Here was a guy who looked out for the interests of others. And as a result, our experience at the game was that much more fun.

I learned something from that vendor that I hope I won’t soon forget: it’s not that hard to make other people’s lives a little easier. All you have to do is take your eyes off of yourself and spread a little kindness. Wherever you happen to be.

If a ball park vendor can do it, so can I.



  1. Ah Shelly. That's a wonderful lesson. The vendor was gracious and you are perceptive. I'm so glad I stopped by today. Now, to get my eyes off myself and onto others.

  2. You sure have spread a lot to our family the last couple of weeks.