By Tim McGrath
“All you needed was a little push.” - Dell from The Upside
It’s a big quote from the movie. The main character is struggling with the next right thing to do. The sidekick, Dell, comes along, and in one quick phone call alters the outcome of the main character’s life: saves the day, puts all things right, the light at the end of the tunnel. Not quite that straightforward, yet it sets our guy on a new path. By the way, no spoiler alert needed here. Not saying another word; go watch the movie. Just want to point out when someone near and dear, a pal down the hall, or a random stranger takes the time to provide that “…little push”, how they can alter the course of things in someone’s world. Maybe not something that was on anyone’s radar screen, but it can spark something new and fresh. It’s funny how things work out sometimes.
It really wasn’t good, at all. In my second year of college, and not much to show for it. First semester, year one GPA: 0.6, 1.5 second semester, and on track for maybe a 1.8 this time. I did have a killer album collection, yet mom and dad weren’t having it. “Listen, Sam, these grades better come up, or you can get yourself a lunch pail and go to work. Your mom and I aren’t going to subsidize what looks like a big party going on over there.” They were right; it was more Camp Calvin than serious academic pursuit. The trouble was, as with many other nineteen year olds, I really had no idea what to do next. I had gotten an “A” in a psych class, but I’d heard psych majors either lean toward becoming tennis pros, or went to grad school. I wasn’t any good at tennis, and grad school? Forget it.
“Hey, TJ, whatcha doin’?” Bob-from-down-the-hall asked as he stuck his head in my room. “Looks like a big bag of nothin’ to me. C’mon, there’s a meeting for students in the Gezon who wanna get into education. Starts in about fifteen minutes. What do you have to lose, man?”
“Education, like being a teacher?”, I said as I whipped on a coat and trotted down the hall after him. And just as Bob had foreseen, I signed up (what did I have to lose?) as an education major; I was going to be a teacher. Teacher, me, really? C’mon. I wasn’t a great student, except in elementary school I did win the fifth grade spelling bee. And, I was hot stuff at dodgeball. Problem is, spelling whiz and dodgeball ace aren’t usually high up on the list of requirements one needs to be a teacher. As my grandmother would say when things were a little murky: “God works in mysterious ways, honey”. I’ll say.
The good news: I loved it. My first charge as a newly fledged education major was a group of about six fourth grade boys who were struggling with math. My job was to help them catch up with the rest of the class. And, boy howdy, we did it. Their teacher would send us out to another room a couple days a week while the rest of the class worked on the lesson and, after about a month of intensive work, each of boys was caught up. Man, there’s nothing like it: seeing the light bulb come on. What a thrill it was! And, that, as they say, was the very humble beginning of what proved to be a long and wonderful career working with kids. The other good news was my GPA went way up, met a wonderful woman, graduated, got a job that didn’t require a lunch pail: mom and dad were happy as clams.
I’m not sure any of it would’ve happened without Bob-from-down-the-hall’s nudge. Don’t know what prompted him to stick his head in my room that long ago day. But, just like that, he changed the course of my life. One little act was all it took. A tad corny? Maybe, but it sure made my day (and life).
So, what’s the takeaway here? For me, it’s the constant reminder we all count, we matter, we’re important, we’re worth the time it takes. It reminds me, too, I can be that person who’s in the right place and at the right time to give that little nudge; say just the right words, or extend a simple invitation. Could be that’s all it takes. Never know when we run across someone, who like that nineteen year old boy struggling to find his way, needs someone to help them see: “All you needed was a little push”.
Features and Fun
Concerts, Plays, Happenings, Local Recipes, Gardening, Entertainment, Charities, Fundraisers, upcoming events, Theater, Activities, Tech, and much more.
“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.”
- Eric Qualman