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Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
July 8, 2015

One afternoon I had the chance to meet a couple of friends on the course for a quick nine. We were paired together for a scramble at our church the next weekend and we admittedly needed the practice.

As I was driving to meet them, I started reflecting on my marriage. After seven years, we had become too predictable. No itches mind you, but more than enough rashes and hives from the children.

With the kids, the mortgage, the bills and, of course, the job to pay for all of the above, we had landed in a sand trap.

In college, it seemed like everything enjoyable in life centered around our time together. People always said that we were the ones who lit the fires, but lately it seemed like we had forgotten the matches.

Golf was an escape for us. I’d chase that stupid white ball around a deep green golf course and would never get any better.

My wife drove the electric golf cart, always wearing a shorts-and-tank-top set, dark sunglasses, and a white golf visor. For ten yards in either direction, you could smell the unmistakable scent of cocoa butter. The only reason she went was to get a suntan.

If the truth were known, the only reason I went was to watch her.

One afternoon, she studied my golf swing more intently than ever before. Finally, on the seventeenth hole, she came out with her notion.

“Let me try to hit one.”

At first, I thought it was a novel idea. Then I changed my mind. Golf was a man’s sport, or so I thought. “You? You can’t hit a golf ball. You’re a girl.”

“Thanks for noticing. Just the same, I think I can lose golf balls as well as you can.”

A very true observation.

I handed over my 3-wood and dug the tee into the hard clay at the tee box. Without even a practice swing, she promptly knocked the ball straight down the middle of the fairway.

When we got to our balls, her drive was five yards further than mine. From that day on, she started playing golf.

Some of the best times we shared early in our marriage were on the golf course. We’d go in the mid-morning before the temperature would climb.

The time we spent together laughing and teasing under the sun cemented our relationship. As I pulled into the parking lot outside the clubhouse, I realized how much I missed seeing her on a golf course.

All the guys at church looked forward to playing our annual tournament. Mike and Danny, a couple of fellow church members, were going to play on my team along with a mystery partner.

Hopefully someone who could drive and putt, our collective shortcomings.

Every team invited someone outside our church to play. Sort of a community involvement thing.

What I always found amazing was how all these strangers could hit the cover off the ball and always straight down the middle!

Let’s face it, there are more ringers in a church golf tournament than in the children’s bell choir.

When I got to the practice green, I saw Danny and his wife, Beth, pulling out Danny’s clubs. A second golf bag was resting on the side.

“Whose clubs are those, Danny?” I asked, expecting him to say that next week’s mystery golfer was already inside the clubhouse, paying for our tickets.

“Why, they’re mine,” said Beth as she threw them across her shoulder.

“Yeah, she’s my secret weapon today. She tees off from the women’s tee box, you know. With her drives, we are guaranteed at least a good one.”

I snickered at the thought of a woman playing golf… then I caught a whiff of cocoa butter.

The three of us spent the afternoon chasing balls, hitting horrible iron shots and missing almost every putt.

Danny and Beth didn’t care. They enjoyed playing golf together in a way that I suddenly recalled.

It’s not the winning but the losing together that matters most.

As we were starting to leave, the conversation came to the tournament. Danny asked, “Well, do you think you can find a fourth player by Saturday?”

“Yeah. Playing this afternoon reminded me of the perfect partner.”

I came home to find my wife in the kitchen. She smiled and asked, “Did you play well?”

“Nope. Just as hopeless as usual.”

“How did the others play?”

“Hopeless as well. We need a fourth player for the tournament and I think I found one.”

She looked up at me with those bright eyes and asked, “Really, who?”

“You.”

Surprise grew across her face. “Me? I haven’t played golf in years. I can’t help you win.”

“Can’t help us lose either. But it sure would be nice to see you out there again.”

That next Saturday, the four of us played golf on perhaps the most beautiful spring day that I can recall.

We laughed and teased all over the course as shot after shot missed the mark.

On the last hole, we finished with a score of 79, seven shots above par, buried deep in last place.

Afterward, the awards were handed out and we got the prize for having the roughest day, a kind way to say we lost.

Each of us received a sleeve of shiny pink golf balls for our hard day’s work.

On the way back to our table, I put my arm around my wife’s waist and whispered to all four of us, “These guys just haven’t figured out who really won…”

Harrison Kelly
Chicken Soup for the Soul: [Tales of Golf and Sport]
http://www.chickensoup.com/  Changing Lives One Story At A Time 
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
May 14, 2002

Last week, Sara Tucholsky, a 5-foot-2-inch softball player in her senior year for Western Oregon University, was playing in a big game with Central Washington University. Both teams were vying for the Division II NCAA playoffs. Sara, who was batting less than .200 all season, hit the ball over the fence with two runners on.

She had never hit a ball out of the park before, even in practice. She was so excited, she missed first base. Realizing this, she turned to go back but collapsed in agony as her knee gave out. Her first-base coach yelled that she had to crawl back to first base because if anyone on Sara’s team touched her, she’d be out and her home run would be nullified. Her coach encouraged her to try to crawl around the other bases to preserve her home run, but it was out of the question.

That’s when the star player on the other team, Mallory Holtman, asked the umpire if she and a teammate could carry Sara around the bases. It was an unprecedented request from an opponent fighting for a playoff berth, but the rules allowed it.

Without hesitation, Mallory and shortstop Liz Wallace lifted Sara and carried her, lowering her to touch each base with her good leg. Tears poured down Sara’s cheeks. The first home run she had hit in her life and she thought she couldn’t have it until two players from the other team made sure she could.

To Mallory it was simple: “In the end, it’s not about winning and losing so much; it was about this girl. She hit it over the fence and was in pain and deserved a home run.”

Mallory was right. It is just common decency. But it is uncommon valor.

All the coaches, players, and spectators who were stunned by this spontaneous act of sportsmanship; they wept. Mallory became a national hero.

Mallory’s team lost 4-2, but Mallory set a standard that blazed a trail. No one knew the National Media would be broadcasting this act of sportmanship and uncommon valor over every station Nationwide. This young girl rose above the game and set a standard for life.

Michael Josephson
www.CharacterCounts.org
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
May 6, 1996

We found out that Jenny was hearing impaired, when she was four and a half years old. Several surgeries and speech classes later, when she was seven, we found out that Jenny had Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.

She could not put pressure on the heels of her feet, so she walked on tiptoe and when the pain became unbearable, I carried her. Jenny was fortunate though, because she did not suffer the deformities often associated with JRV.

All through grade school and on into high school, Jenny suffered yet never complained. She took her medicine and I would often wrap her feet in steaming towels and hold her until the pain eased. But, as soon as she could withstand the pain, Jenny immediately carried on as though she were pain free.

She wore a smile on her face, a song on her lips and a love and acceptance of others, that was simply amazing. I don’t remember her ever voicing self-pity. She ran when she could run. She played when she could play and she danced when she could dance. And, when she could do none of these things, she took her medicine and she waited until she could.

Jenny, a beautiful blonde with warm brown eyes, was never a cheerleader. She never competed in a sport. She could not even take part in a Gym Class though she took the same health class four years in a row just so she could pass with a substitute credit each year. She joined the band. She won a place in the Governor’s School for the Arts; yet, no one in the Charleston, South Carolina School System knew quite what to do with Jenny. The perimeters were simply not in place to deal with a student, who was both active and handicapped.

Jenny continued to have one surgery after another all through school. Her hearing improved to 60% and she taught herself to read lips. She carried a pillow to school all through high school and once when she suddenly experienced crippling pain, her friends scooped her up and carried her from class to class.

She was totally mainstreamed, popular and funny, attending every football game, cheering the team on, carrying her pillow everywhere she went so that she could cushion the pain when she sat down. Then came her senior year. She would be considered for scholarships; however school activities, especially sports, could often mean the difference between receiving an award or losing out.

So Jenny came to a decision; and in her quirky unorthodox manner, she began to bombard the high school football coach. She begged. She pleaded. She promised. She got her best friend to sign up with her. Finally the coach gave in, with the admonition, “If you miss ONE game, you’re out!” So Jenny became Manager of the Garrett High School Football Team.

She carried big buckets of water to her teammates. She bandaged knees and ankles before every game. She massaged necks and backs. She gave pep talks. She was continually at their beck and call, and it turned out to be one of the best years for Garrett High School Football Team, in its twenty-five year history. Often Jenny could be seen carrying a bucket of water in each hand, nearly dragging them, along with her pillow tucked under her arm.

When asked why he thought that the team was winning all their games even in the face of injury, one linebacker explained in his soft Charleston drawl, “Well, when you’ve been knocked down and you can’t seem to move, you look up and see Jenny Lewis, limping across the field, dragging her buckets and carrying her pillow. It makes anything the rest of us may suffer seem pretty insignificant.”

At the Senior Awards ceremony, Jenny received a number of scholarships to several Universities. Her favorite scholarship, however, was a small one from the Charleston Women’s Club. The President of the Women’s Club listed Jenny’s accomplishments, starting with her grades and ending with a closure, “…and the first girl to letter in football, in Charleston History. But more important, what an inspiration. She excelled in the face of adversity, inspired an entire football team to new heights and gave hope to the future of every student at Garrett High School. Jenny will change the life of every one she meets.

 

By - Jaye Lewis          http://www.chickensoup.com 
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
May 4, 1994

He possessed a five-day supply of food, a Bible and Pilgrim’s Progress- his two treasures, a small ax for protection, and a blanket. With these, Legson Kayira eagerly set out on the journey of his life. He was going to walk from his tribal village in Nyasaland, north across the wilderness of East Africa, 3000 miles to Cairo, where he would board a ship to America to get a college education.

It was October 1958. Legson was sixteen or seventeen, his mother wasn’t sure. His parents didn’t know exactly where America was or how far. But they reluctantly gave their blessing to his journey.

To Legson, it was a journey derived from a dream – that fueled his determination to get an education. He wanted to be like his hero, Abraham Lincoln, who had risen from poverty to become an American president, then fought tirelessly to end slavery and to heal a wounded nation. He wanted to be like Booker T. Washington, who had cast off the shackles of slavery to become a great American reformer and educator, giving hope and dignity to himself, to all races and to a nation.

Like these great role models, Legson wanted to serve mankind and to make a difference in the world. To realize his goal, he needed a first-rate education. He knew the best place to get it was in America.

Forget that Legson didn’t have a penny to his name or a way to pay for his ship fare.Forget that he had no idea what college he would attend, where to find it, how to appy or if he would even be accepted.

Forget that Cairo was 3,000 miles away and in between were hundreds of tribes that spoke more than fifty strange languages, none of which Legson knew.

Forget all that. Legson did. He had to. He put everything out of his mind except the dream of getting to the land where he could shape his own destiny.

He hadn’t always been so determined. As a young boy, he sometimes used his poverty as an excuse for not doing his best at school or for not accomplishing something. I am just a poor child, he had told himself. What can I do?

Like many of his friends in the village, it was easy for Legson to believe that studying was a waste of time for a poor boy from the town of Karongo in Nyasaland. Then, in books provided by missionaries, he discovered Abraham Lincoln and Booker T. Washington. Their stories inspired him to envision more for his life and he realized that an education was the first step. So he conceived the idea for his walk.

After five full days of trekking across the rugged African terrain, Legson had covered only 25 miles. He was already out of food, his water was running out, and he had no money. To travel the distance of 2,975 additional miles seemed impossible. Yet to turn back was to give up, to resign himself to a life of poverty and hopelessness. “I will not stop until I reach America”, he promised himself. “Or until I die trying.”

Sometimes he walked with strangers. Most of the time he walked alone. He entered each new village cautiously, not knowing whether the natives were hostile or friendly. Sometimes he found work and shelter. Many nights he slept under the stars. He foraged for wild fruits and berries and other edible plants. He became thin and weak. A fever struck him and he fell gravely ill. Kind strangers treated him with herbal medicines and offered him a place to rest and convalesce. Weary and demoralized, Legson considered turning back. Perhaps it was better to go home, he reasoned, than to continue this seemingly foolish journey and risk his life.

Instead, Legson turned to his two books, reading the familiar words that renewed his faith in his reasons, in his goal, in his purpose and in his God. He continued on. On January 19, 1960, fifteen months after he began his perilous journey, he had crossed nearly a thousand miles to Kampala, the capital of Uganda. He was now growing stronger in body and wiser in the ways of survival. He remained in Kampala for six months, working at odd jobs and spending every spare moment in the library, reading voraciously.

In that library he came across an illustrated directory of American colleges. One illustration in particular caught his eye. It was of a stately, yet friendly looking institution, set beneath a pure blue sky, graced with fountains and lawns, and surrounded by majestic mountains that reminded him of the magnificent peaks back home in Nyasaland.

Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon, Washington, became the first concrete image in Legson’s seemingly impossible quest. He wrote immediately to the school’s Dean, explaining his situation and asking for a scholarship. Fearing he might not be accepted at Skagit, Legson decided to write to as many colleges as his meager budget would allow.

It wasn’t necessary. The Dean at Skagit was so impressed with Legson’s determination, he not only granted him admission, but also offered him a scholarship and a job that would pay his room and board.

Another piece of Legson’s dream had fallen into place – yet still more obstacles blocked his path. Legson needed a passport and a visa, but to get a passport, he had to provide the government with a verified birth date. Worse yet, to get a visa he needed the round-trip fare to the United States. Again, he picked up pen and paper and wrote to the missionaries who had taught him since childhood. They helped to push the passport through government channels. However, Legson still lacked the airfare required for a visa.

Undeterred, Legson continued his journey to Cairo believing he would somehow get the money he needed. He was so confident he spent the last of his savings on a pair of shoes so he wouldn’t have to walk through the door of Skagit Valley College barefoot.

Months passed, and word of his courageous journey began to spread. By the time he reached Khartoum, penniless and exhausted, the legend of Legson Kayira had spanned the ocean between the African continent and Mount Vernon, Washington. The students of Skagit Valley College sent $650 to cover Legson’s fare to America.

When he learned of their generosity, Legson fell to his knees in exhaustion, joy and gratitude. In December 1960, more than two years after his journey began, Legson Kayira arrived at Skagit Valley College. Carrying his two treasured books, he proudly passed through the towering entrance of the institution.

But Legson Kayira didn’t stop once he graduated. Continuing his academic journey, he became a Professor of Political Science at Cambridge University in England and a widely respected author.

Like his heroes, Abraham Lincoln and Booker T. Washington, Legson Kayira rose above his humble beginnings and forged his own destiny. He made a difference in the world and became a magnificent beacon whose light remains as a guide for others to follow.

“I learned I was not, as most in undesirable circumstances believe, the victim of my circumstances, but that I could be master of them, if I pursued my dream, my goal and my purpose; if I persisted and trusted in God. What made the difference was when the missionaries, Dean, Faculty, Staff and Students of Skagit Valley College came alongside…”

He would have made a good spokesman for Nike,
“Just do it.”

Excerpted from "Unstoppable" Copyright 1998 by Cynthia Kersey

Cynthia Kersey cynthia@unstoppable.net 
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
April 28, 1999

Hurricane Bertha left me in a bad mood.  I had managed to maintain my sour disposition for several days in spite of the attempts of almost everybody to cheer me up.  I had leaks in my ceiling at the gallery, the floors were flooded, the showcases dirty, there was no air conditioning or electricity, and I had over one hundred artists calling me to see if their work had been damaged.  On top of all that, I had to drive over to Jacksonville in the pouring rain and choking heat, and the air conditioner in my truck had quit working. I was not happy.

As I motored along North Carolina’s Highway 24 to Jacksonville, my faithful truck was trying to tell me something . . something important like . . . YOU FORGOT TO BUY GAS!  For the first time in my life I had run out of gas.  I’d always smirked at the friends and family who’d done this, as if to say, “How could you be so stupid?  There’s a gauge on the dashboard to tell you that your tank is empty, and all you have to do is read it.” I was right: There was a gauge, and it said EMPTY. I was not happy.

I coasted to the side of the road, saying several things about my own mental abilities . . . several things about Hurricane Bertha . . . and vowing to sit there until the darn truck rotted and fell apart.

As I contemplated the possibility of getting a job with the French Foreign Legion, I heard a motorcycle pull up beside me: a big, throaty, rumbling, growling Harley-Davidson.  I opened my door and was face to face with a throwback to the 1960s.

Snakes were painted all over his face shield and helmet and tattooed all over his body.  He wore the traditional Harley-Davidson garb: denim jacket, jeans and biker boots.  Chains hung from every available hook or loop.  His hair was so long that he had it doubled up and tied to keep it out of his wheels.  The Harley was straight out of Easy Rider – extended front fork; suicide rack on the back; black, purple and green paint job, and the gas tank painted to look like a skull with glowing green eyes.

“S’wrong?” he said.  His shield and helmet completely masked his face. “I’m out of gas,” I whispered. “B’right back.”  And he rode off.  About fifteen minutes later he returned with a can of gas.

When I offered to pay him he said, “Wait till ya get to the station.”

I started my truck and drove the two or three miles to the station as he followed along (in the pouring rain). Again I offered to pay him.  He said, “Pay the guy inside.  Everything okay now?”  I said yes.  He said, “See ya!”  And off he rode down Highway 24 toward Jacksonville, hair undone and flying in the wind, Harley roaring and throwing up spray from the pavement.

After pumping twenty-four dollars worth of gas, I went into the station and gave the attendant thirty dollars.  He said, “It’s only four dollars.  The other guy paid twenty and said to tell you to ‘pass it on, Brother.'”

I will always remember the kindness of the snakes-and-chains stranger on the Harley with the glowing green eyes, and I will never again judge by looks or perception -a promise I had often made to myself before God let me see, He truly works in mysterious ways.  And I will always wonder, “Who was that masked man?” ….As for the twenty dollars . . . I pass it on every chance I get.

Robert R. Thomas (c) 1996
Chicken Soup for the Soul www.chickensoup.com  
Image from www.allposters.com 
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
April 26, 1998

It started last fall when we had a beaver move in the small stream beside our house. He immediately began taking down small trees  and within a couple of weeks our small stream turned into a small pond. Everyday he added more to his damn and to his house.

We’re sure you’ve all heard the saying, “busy as a beaver”, but we never really appreciated it until we saw the work that this beaver did over a very short period of time.

With the stream now damned and his house built, we thought that would be the last of the beaver’s busy activity as winter set in. But, to our amazement, he started chewing on a very large maple tree. And, we mean large. The tree is over 60 feet tall and is approximately five feet in diameter at the base. We were amazed at the challenge this beaver was attempting.

Over the winter, he would come out and chew a bit more. He had setbacks as we faced major winter storms and freezing weather. We thought that he will never chew through this tree. But sure enough, when the weather allowed, he kept coming back and would chew a bit more.

With spring finally arriving, we went down to see the beaver’s progress and sure enough the tree is going to come down soon!! Our beaver has now almost completely chewed around and through the entire tree.

The beaver’s original goal was survival – to build a home for the winter. Working every day with that particular focus in mind, he achieved that goal. But the large maple tree he started chewing on last fall was a future goal – he wanted the large tree for the spring, to provide new food and branches to continue damning in anticipation of the spring thaw. And, even with the setbacks he faced over the winter, he never gave up.

Our point in sharing our beaver experience with you is to remind you that sometimes we have a goal to just survive, but we also need to set goals for tomorrow. And sometimes, just surviving seems to occupy all of our time – working everyday, looking after our family, going to school and so forth. But, if we do just a little bit when times allows, keep focused on our future goal and not let setbacks discourage us, we will achieve it.

By Byron and Catherine Pulsifer
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
April 21, 2003

Oscar was named after the Sesame Street character who lives in a garbage can because that is where we first became acquainted.  I was working at a pizza-delivery chain and had been assigned garbage duty.  While tossing bags into a dumpster, I heard a faint meow.  I began digging through the trash, and several layers down I found a cat – bruised and thin.  I wasn’t sure if the cat had crawled into the Dumpster to scavenge for food or if he had been put there purposely.  Our establishment sat directly behind an apartment complex, and unsupervised and abandoned pets were common.

Back on solid ground, it became evident that the cat had an injured leg.  He couldn’t put any weight on his right hindquarters.  The situation created a dilemma for me.  Finances were tight, and I was moving back home to my parents’ house – with two cats already in tow.  Dad barely tolerated the two established felines.  His reaction to another injured stray was sure to be less than receptive.

I took the stray to the vet, hoping to patch him up.  After shots and X-rays, the vet discovered the cat had a cracked pelvis.  I posted notices, hoping someone would claim the cat or adopt him.

Meanwhile, the response at home was swift and firm: No more cats!  Dad insisted I take the cat to the Humane Society immediately.  I protested that the cat would be put to sleep.  Luckily, my mother intervened.  She agreed the injury would make the cat unadoptable, so we would keep him long enough for his hip to heal.  Then he would have to go – no arguments.

Oscar must have somehow understood his situation.  He seemed to study the other two cats and their interactions with my father.  We suspect he bribed Tanner, our golden retriever, with table scraps in exchange for etiquette lessons.  When the other cats were aloof, Oscar was attentive.  He came when his name was called, and he would roll over on his back to have his belly scratched.  As his injury began to heal, he would jump on the ottoman by my father’s favorite chair, and, eventually, into his lap.  Initially, Dad pushed Oscar away, but persistence paid off.  Soon, Oscar and a muttering Dad shared the chair.

At mealtimes, Oscar would come to sit with us.  Positioned on the floor by my father’s chair, every so often Oscar would reach up with one paw and tap Dad on the knee.  At first, this provoked great irritation and colorful expletives expressed in harsh tones.  Oscar, however, refused to be put off.  Repetitive knee-taps soon led to semi-covert handouts of choice morsels.

Oscar greeted my father at the top of the stairs every morning and waited for him at the door every evening.  My father sometimes ignored Oscar, and, at other times, stepped over him, complaining the whole time.  Oscar mastered opening doors by sticking his paw underneath the door and rocking it back and forth until it opened.  Soon, he was sleeping in the master bedroom at the foot of the bed.  My father was completely disgusted, but couldn’t stop the cat from sneaking onto the bed while they were sleeping.  Eventually, Dad gave up.

Before long, Oscar, aspiring to his own place at the table during meals, began jumping up into my lap.  He was allowed to stay as long as his head remained below table level.  Of course, an occasional paw would appear as a reminder of his presence.

Three months passed, and the vet pronounced Oscar healthy and healed.  I was heartbroken.  How could I take this loving soul away from what had become his home, from the people he trusted?  Sick at heart, I brought Oscar home and told my parents what should have been good news: Oscar was a healthy cat with a healed hip.  “I’ll take him to the Humane Society like I promised,” I said dully.

As I turned to put Oscar in the carrier for the trip, my father spoke, uttering three magic words: “Not my cat!”

Oscar is home to stay.  He now has his own chair at the table and sleeps – where else? – in the master bedroom between my mother and father.  He is their official “grand-kitten” and living proof that deep within the most unlikely heart, there is a cat lover in all of us.

By Kathleen Kennedy

 

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