I’ve never really been one to want autographs or a chance to shake hands with someone famous. If the highly unlikely does happen and you get to meet that type person, then what? I guess you have the bragging rights that you met them, but that’s where the relationship ends. They won’t be calling you later to meet at Starbucks to catch up over a cappuccino.
It’s fascinating how we put those in the spotlight on a stand like a piece of fine artwork, almost like they really aren’t in the same category of humanness as the rest of us. Some of them take it in stride and live as normally as possible. The other half aren’t so nice. Pressure affects people differently.
Jim worked his way though college playing football at the University of Arkansas. We once figured out the value of his college education broken down into hourly wage. It was equal to sweat shop pay in a third world country. Dollar wise his time would have been spent better flipping burgers and his achy body parts would have probably aged slower. But, he wouldn’t have been a Hog.
In Arkansas, Razorback football players are celebrity-like. Kids, especially, swarm the team after practices and games. They might not even know the player’s name, but because he wears a jersey with a hog on it, the coolness factor is upped.
One afternoon after a long, hot practice Jim was leaving the field when a man in jeans and a tee shirt stopped him to ask some questions about the team and what it was like to play Razorback football. Jim assumed he was an off duty reporter. While they were talking, trucks, dollies and lifts were moving all kinds of sound equipment and cars were already filling up the stadium parking lot.
After about five minutes of football conversation, over the noise Jim said, “ All this is because there’s a Neil Diamond concert in the arena tonight. I think his people were not happy they had to wait until the football team finished workout before they could finalize their set up. Man, the traffic is going to be a mess with the crowds and the parking lot construction and it’s supposed to start raining. I wouldn’t pay a plug nickel to fight all that to see the concert,” Jim said honestly.
The man in the tee shirt nodded his head in agreement and smiled. Another man approached them who Jim thought probably had football questions too. Apologizing for interrupting he turned to the assumed off duty reporter and asked, “Mr. Diamond, where would you like…”
Jim didn’t even hear the rest of the question. To turn and run to the locker room would have been too obvious, so he dropped his head, smiled, and said, “I need to reword my last sentence. I wouldn’t pay a plug nickel to fight all that to see ANY concert.”
He quickly scribbled a mental memo … careful, you never know who might be striking up a conversation with you. Mr. Diamond grinned, shook Jim’s hand, saying he knew what he had meant and sure had enjoyed the visit. And, no, he didn’t call later to see if Jim was free for coffee.