I can identify with my mom. She said there’s just so much to look at, you can forget to watch the game sometimes. As we scanned the rowdy crowd of every size, shape, color, and creed, the people-watching was as much entertainment as our hometown heroes on the field.
There seems to be a parallel hierarchy of both status and income in the world of stadium fare hawkers. First you got your A-list beer salesmen. Up and down the 376 stairs in the lower deck, and making a brisk profit from the thirsty crowd all they way through the 7th inning, when sales of alcohol are finally shut down. Beer guy has made it, baby. He’s in command. In the zone. So cool he can wear a tiny cowboy hat on purpose.
Then after the beer guy, you got your POP bottle guy. Selling tasty beverages to all the Worship and Executive Pastors in the house. Still cool. Still making good money. Go with me down the ladder for a minute… Beer guy, then Pop guy, then Hot Dog guy, then Cotton Candy guy, Malted Milk Ice Cream Cup guy, Crackerjack and Peanuts guy, SnoCone guy, Commemorative Program guy… then… well… we called him “Brick-a-Brack guy.”
My dad figured he was doing community service. Hard to tell. He had no tiny cowboy hat. Just a faded gray, non-descript baseball cap – devoid of flair. In his hands he clutched his wares: Small thin white plastic zippered coin purses (I think) with the Twins logo, what looked like some cheap Twins coloring books, and about a dozen necklaces made of giant red or blue beads. He had no pre-prepared chant for the crowd. It was just, “Hey… (insert akward pause) Hey…!” as he waved his brick-a-brack for everyone to see. Surely this is the bottom rung of the ladder.
Then a poignant moment happened. He looked out into the center of the section next to us, seemed to make eye contact with someone, tapped the beads around his neck and held up two fingers with a slight nod of the head and raised eyebrows, as if to say, “I see you man. You want two necklaces? No problem…”
Only, he never completed the sale. There was no sale. Nobody wanted his brick-a-brack. I watched him walk up the aisle a little ways. “Hey… Hey…” A little more. Then it came again. Head nod, tap the beads, two fingers, walk away.
Beer guy made small talk with the crowd. Talked about the game – his strategy – his profit margin. Brick-a-Brack guy was a poser. Too embarassed to walk the aisle without a sale, he had to at least pretend someone wanted what he had to offer. At first I was laughing, but not for long. Mostly I thought, how uncomfortable must he be? To pose like that in front of this huge crowd.
But I’m a poser, too, sometimes. On a smaller scale, maybe, but what does that matter? Prime example: yesterday I had to attend a meeting for “Administrative Assistants” in an office job where I’m clearly the new guy. Half of what these master left-brained thinkers were discussing was over my head. So, as I went to fetch me a tasty cup of coffee before the meeting, I caught myself walking briskly, chest puffed out, trying to appear in command. In the zone. In my element. Like the beer guy. Truth be told, I was out of my comfort zone. I didn’t have much to offer in this setting. I was on the low rung of the ladder. But I sure didn’t want to LOOK like it. No way! Nod the head. Two fingers. Walk away.
Here’s where I’m at …
Lord, forgive me for giving in to the fear of men. What foolishness. What’s the problem with being on the lowest rung once in awhile? Didn’t you say something about the last shall be first? Consider others better than yourselves? My identity is found in YOU, Lord. Help me just be real. Why should I ever fear anyone if I keep my eyes on You?
It was a great game. Twins beat the Sox 3 to 2. But if I had it to do over again, I think I would have bought me some giant red beads.
“baseball, posers, and the fear of men” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.