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Vintage Dilbert August 13, 2002

Vintage Dilbert
August 13, 2002

 

Today, I interviewed my grandmother for part of a research paper I’m working on for my Psychology class. When I asked her to define success in her own words, she said, “Success is when you look back at your life and the memories make you smile, not the money!”

 

Author Unknown - Please comment if you
 know the author so credit can be given
Vintage Dilbert March 3, 2003

Vintage Dilbert
March 3, 2003

 

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 42 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I’ve ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:
1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short – enjoy it..

4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. Save for retirement starting with your first pay check.

9. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

10. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

11. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

12. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

13. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it…

14. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

15. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

16. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

17. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

18. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

19. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

20. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

21. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

22. The most important sex organ is the brain.

23. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

24. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’

25. Always choose life.

26. Forgive but don’t forget.

27. What other people think of you is none of your business.

28. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

29. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

30. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does..

31. Believe in miracles.

32. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

33. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.

34. Your children get only one childhood.

35. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

36. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

37. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

38. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have not what you need.

39. The best is yet to come…

40. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

41. Yield.

42. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old,
 Cleveland, Ohio 
Vintage Dilbert February 22, 2003

Vintage Dilbert
February 22, 2003

From a flight attendant on Delta Flight 15, written following 9-11

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, we were about 5 hours out of Frankfurt, flying over the North Atlantic.

All of a sudden the curtains parted and I was told to go to the cockpit, immediately, to see the captain.

As soon as I got there I noticed that the crew had that “All Business” look on their faces. The captain handed me a printed message. It was from Delta’s main office in Atlanta and simply read, “All airways over the Continental United States are closed to commercial air traffic. Land ASAP at the nearest airport. Advise your destination.”

No one said a word about what this could mean. We knew it was a serious situation and we needed to find terra firma quickly. The captain determined that the nearest airport was 400 miles behind us in Gander, Newfoundland.

He requested approval for a route change from the Canadian traffic controller and approval was granted immediately — no questions asked. We found out later, of course, why there was no hesitation in approving our request.

While the flight crew prepared the airplane for landing, another message arrived from Atlanta telling us about some terrorist activity in the New York area. A few minutes later word came in about the hijackings.

We decided to LIE to the passengers while we were still in the air. We told them the plane had a simple instrument problem and that we needed to land at the nearest airport in Gander, Newfoundland, to have it checked out.

We promised to give more information after landing in Gander. There was much grumbling among the passengers, but that’s nothing new! Forty minutes later, we landed in Gander. Local time at Gander was 12:30 PM … that’s 11:00 AM EST.

There were already about 20 other airplanes on the ground from all over the world that had taken this detour on their way to the US.

After we parked on the ramp, the captain made the following announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, you must be wondering if all these airplanes around us have the same instrument problem as we have. The reality is that we are here for another reason.”

Then he went on to explain the little bit we knew about the situation in the US. There were loud gasps and stares of disbelief. The captain informed passengers that Ground control in Gander told us to stay put.

The Canadian Government was in charge of our situation and no one was allowed to get off the aircraft. No one on the ground was allowed to come near any of the air crafts. Only airport police would come around periodically, look us over and go on to the next airplane.

In the next hour or so more planes landed and Gander ended up with 53 airplanes from all over the world, 27 of which were US commercial jets.

Meanwhile, bits of news started to come in over the aircraft radio and for the first time we learned that airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and into the Pentagon in DC.

People were trying to use their cell phones, but were unable to connect due to a different cell system in Canada . Some did get through, but were only able to get to the Canadian operator who would tell them that the lines to the U.S. were either blocked or jammed.

Sometime in the evening the news filtered to us that the World Trade Center buildings had collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had resulted in a crash. By now the passengers were emotionally and physically exhausted, not to mention frightened, but everyone stayed amazingly calm.

We had only to look out the window at the 52 other stranded aircraft to realize that we were not the only ones in this predicament.

We had been told earlier that they would be allowing people off the planes one plane at a time. At 6 PM, Gander airport told us that our turn to deplane would be 11 am the next morning.

Passengers were not happy, but they simply resigned themselves to this news without much noise and started to prepare themselves to spend the night on the airplane.

Gander had promised us medical attention, if needed, water, and lavatory servicing.

And they were true to their word.

Fortunately we had no medical situations to worry about. We did have a young lady who was 33 weeks into her pregnancy. We took REALLY good care of her. The night passed without incident despite the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements.

About 10:30 on the morning of the 12th a convoy of school buses showed up. We got off the plane and were taken to the terminal where we went through Immigration and Customs and then had to register with the Red Cross.

After that we (the crew) were separated from the passengers and were taken in vans to a small hotel.

We had no idea where our passengers were going. We learned from the Red Cross that the town of Gander has a population of 10,400 people and they had about 10,500 passengers to take care of from all the airplanes that were forced into Gander!

We were told to just relax at the hotel and we would be contacted when the US airports opened again, but not to expect that call for a while.

We found out the total scope of the terror back home only after getting to our hotel and turning on the TV, 24 hours after it all started.

Meanwhile, we had lots of time on our hands and found that the people of Gander were extremely friendly. They started calling us the “plane people.” We enjoyed their hospitality, explored the town of Gander and ended up having a pretty good time.

Two days later, we got that call and were taken back to the Gander airport. Back on the plane, we were reunited with the passengers and found out what they had been doing for the past two days.

What we found out was incredible…

Gander and all the surrounding communities (within about a 75 Kilometer radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges, and any other large gathering places. They converted all these facilities to mass lodging areas for all the stranded travelers.

Some had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up.

ALL the high school students were required to volunteer their time to take care of the “guests.”

Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called Lewisporte, about 45 kilometers from Gander where they were put up in a high school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that was arranged.

Families were kept together. All the elderly passengers were taken to private homes.

Remember that young pregnant lady? She was put up in a private home right across the street from a 24-hour Urgent Care facility. There was a dentist on call and both male and female nurses remained with the crowd for the duration.

Phone calls and e-mails to the U.S. and around the world were available to everyone once a day.

During the day, passengers were offered “excursion” trips.

Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and harbors. Some went for hikes in the local forests.

Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests.

Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools. People were driven to restaurants of their choice and offered wonderful meals. Everyone was given tokens for local laundry mats to wash their clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft.

In other words, every single need was met for those stranded travelers.

Passengers were crying while telling us these stories. Finally, when they were told that U.S. airports had reopened, they were delivered to the airport right on time and without a single passenger missing or late. The local Red Cross had all the information about the whereabouts of each and every passenger and knew which plane they needed to be on and when all the planes were leaving. They coordinated everything beautifully.

It was absolutely incredible.

When passengers came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise. Everyone knew each other by name. They were swapping stories of their stay, impressing each other with who had the better time.

Our flight back to Atlanta looked like a chartered party flight. The crew just stayed out of their way. It was mind-boggling.

Passengers had totally bonded and were calling each other by their first names, exchanging phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses.

And then a very unusual thing happened.

One of our passengers approached me and asked if he could make an announcement over the PA system. We never, ever allow that. But this time was different. I said “of course” and handed him the mike. He picked up the PA and reminded everyone about what they had just gone through in the last few days.

He reminded them of the hospitality they had received at the hands of total strangers.

He continued by saying that he would like to do something in return for the good folks of Lewisporte.

“He said he was going to set up a Trust Fund under the name of DELTA 15 (our flight number). The purpose of the trust fund is to provide college scholarships for the high school students of Lewisporte.

He asked for donations of any amount from his fellow travelers. When the paper with donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone numbers and addresses, the total was for more than $14,000!

“The gentleman, a MD from Virginia , promised to match the donations and to start the administrative work on the scholarship. He also said that he would forward this proposal to Delta Corporate and ask them to donate as well.

As I write this account, the trust fund is at more than $1.5 million and has assisted 134 students in college education.

“I just wanted to share this story because we need good stories right now. It gives me a little bit of hope to know that some people in a faraway place were kind to some strangers who literally dropped in on them.

It reminds me how much good there is in the world.”

“In spite of all the rotten things we see going on in today’s world this story confirms that there are still a lot of good people in the world and when things get bad, they will come forward. Let’s not forget THIS fact.

I hope you enjoyed this story as much as I have..... Explore the
 MS&D archives for over 1000 additional stories...  
 Take Care and God Bless  :-)  Kenny T
Author Unknown - Please comment if you know the author
 so credit can be given
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
August 17, 1998

Standing in the middle of the gymnasium, I faced the Special Olympics athletes, wall-to-wall bleachers filled with energy and excitement. The incessant chatter and constant movement was interrupted only occasionally when an athlete would break loose and dash across the room. Their enthusiasm could not be stifled – this was their special day.

I was an inexperienced high-school junior. When I signed up to volunteer as a team leader, I had no idea what it would entail. Standing there completely baffled, I surveyed the chaos, wondering how the Games could ever be organized.

As I waited anxiously for my team of girls to be called, a small mob of schoolgirls, wearing matching Special Olympics T-shirts, closed in on me. Each girl had a distinctive gait. Some moved as if they were going to attack me, while others had difficulty putting one foot in front of the other.

One young woman bounced clumsily toward me with such liveliness, gravity seemed to have no effect. Strands of brown hair swayed back and forth in front of her blue eyes with every step, and a huge smile warmed her full, freckled face.

I felt paralyzed as I realized she was headed directly toward me. She stood next to me, placed her arm on my shoulder, and said, “Hi, I’m Jane.”

“Hi, I’m Sandy.”

Then, moving even closer, she said, “Hi, Sandy. I’m Jane.”

Smiling, I asked, “How are you, Jane?”

“Fine,” she said, her gaze focused on my face.

Just then the whistle announced the first event – a basketball – dribbling relay. The girls lined up behind the starting line, ready to dribble the ball to the cone at the other end of the court, and back again.

At the sound of the bell, my first team member picked up the ball and put as much energy as she could into her task. Bounce . . . Catch . . . Step. Bounce . . . Catch . . . Step.
“Come on! You can do it!” I yelled. Bounce . . . Catch . . . Step . . . Smile. Crossing the finish line, she passed the ball to the next girl, who took off. “Go! Go!” I screamed.

Handling the basketball with confidence as she zigzagged down the court and back, she passed the ball to Jane.

“Watch, Sandy. I can do this.” As Jane attempted to dribble, her bouncing gait kept her from controlling the ball. With almost every step, Jane’s foot would kick the ball, sending it flying across the gymnasium.

“You can do it, Jane!” I yelled.

Her smile never faded as she happily retrieved the ball and resumed where she had left off. As if the ball had a mind of its own, it took two more trips across the gymnasium before Jane was back at my side.

“I did good, didn’t I, Sandy?” Jane asked proudly. “Yes, you did fine.”

Then, as if she needed reminding or felt I did, Jane once again placed her arm on my shoulder and declared, “Hi Sandy, I’m Jane.”

“Yes, you are Jane, a wonderful young lady.” I responded, with a reassuring smile. This game continued throughout the other events.

I admired Jane’s zeal and her extraordinary attitude. She faced each challenge optimistically. Nothing fazed her. Nothing could erase the beautiful smile from her face. Each setback seemed to fuel her exuberant joy.

At the end of the day, each athlete received a ribbon. No one on my team came in first – it wasn’t important. The only thing that mattered was a job well-done and contented hearts. These girls were no different than any Olympian in Barcelona or Sydney; they had given their all, and now they looked at their ribbons with as much pride as a gold medalist.

“See! I did good!” Jane announced as she proudly showed me her ribbons.

It was time to go. Jane stood by my side and propped her arm on my shoulder. “Bye, Sandy. I had fun. I did good, didn’t I?”

“You did your best. I am so proud of you,” I answered, looking into her distant eyes.

Digging a piece of folded paper and small pencil from the pocket of her shorts, Jane handed it to me. “Can I have your address, Sandy?” she asked graciously.

“Sure,” I said, jotting it down.

“I could write you and then you could write me, huh? That would be good.”

“Yes, I would like that.”

All but one of the girls walked out of my life. Jane and I continued to communicate through letters and phone calls. We talked about comic books and baby dolls – trivial things to me, but to her, prized possessions.

A year later, as the Special Olympics approached, Jane wrote, “Can you come watch me in the Special Olympics?”

That year, I went as an observer. I stood next to Jane’s mother during the floor-hockey competition. Occasionally I shouted, “Good, Jane, good!”

“I’m glad you came,” her mother said. “You mean so much to my daughter. She talks about you all the time. When she asked if she could invite you, I said yes, but I also told her I didn’t think you would come.”

Looking at her in disbelief, I thought, Why would you assume such a thing? I replied, “Jane and I have developed a close relationship this year. She is my friend, and I’m happy to come.” Pausing for a moment, I smiled and added, “Besides, I love Jane.”

“I know you do, dear,” her mother said. “It’s just that . . . she’s been disappointed so many times before.”

The game ended, and Jane ran over to me. “I did good, didn’t I, Sandy?”

Hugging her, I said, “Yes you did, Jane!” We walked to lunch, arm in arm, and then said our good-byes. That was the last time I saw her. Although we corresponded during most of my college years, the letters eventually stopped.

A few years later, I sent a letter to my special friend. I wanted her to come to my wedding. I pictured her saying, “You did good, Sandy,” cheering me on like I had done for her. Unfortunately, the letter was returned – “No such person at this address.” I felt heartbroken.

Because of Jane, I now find joy in the little things. I know that winning isn’t the only thing that matters. When life sends me in an unexpected direction, I now get right back on course and start again, as I try to wear Jane’s smile.

Every once in a while, I can feel her arm rest on my shoulder as she says, “Hi Sandy, I’m Jane. You did good.”

Sandra J. Bunch
http://www.chickensoup.com 
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
June 11, 2011

“Doesn’t he look old?” my dinner companion asked as she nodded at a man sitting across the restaurant. I looked to see who she meant.

It was a “girls’ night out” for the two of us — husbands and kids, and in my case, grandkids,  left behind for a couple of hours as we caught up on a little girl talk.

We had known one another since junior high school and had graduated in the same high school class.

Time, careers, husbands and families had taken us on different paths in life, but recently she and her family had returned to our little hometown with its two stoplights.

We were both in our mid-sixties now, and the outing tonight was our own private celebration of the renewal of our friendship.

I glanced again at the man sitting alone across the room, enjoying a solitary meal. We had all attended the same high school,  although he was a year older than she and I.

“His hair has gotten so gray, that is what little he has left,” my friend commented. “And look at all those wrinkles!”

I thought back to our high school years. He had been the “Fonzie” of the school — the “cool cat” with the black leather jacket and coal black hair combed into a “duck tail,” the style of the day.

He even rode a motorcycle, something almost unheard of for a high school kid back in the early 1960s — at least in our small town. In fact, back then very few teens had any kind of transportation they could call their own.

Oh, the girls might beg to drive the family car for a Sunday afternoon spin with girlfriends, and if the boys did have a set of wheels, it was usually a “fixer upper” bought in a junkyard.

That meant the guys would spend most Saturday afternoons under the hood trying to find why this hose leaked or that valve malfunctioned.

But not our friend across the room. He drove a Harley and was the envy of all the guys and the dreamboat for all the girls.

“His hands are even trembling,” my companion exclaimed, and sure enough, when I glanced again, I saw a slight shaking as he lifted his coffee cup to his lips.

We had dated for a while when he was a senior and I was a junior. I remembered lazy summer afternoons on the back of the Harley, clinging to his leather jacket and laughing into the wind. Life had seemed so perfect and so innocent.

Then he had graduated from high school and without any fanfare or notice, decided college wasn’t his lot in life, so he joined the Army.

Before long he was shipped overseas while I finished my high school years and went off to college. We lost touch then, as he never wrote, but one day he returned, bringing with him a girl he had met and married while stationed in Europe.

She was pretty and outgoing, and I liked her. By then, I was married, too, and starting my own family. I would see the two of them occasionally at a community event or shopping in a local store.

We would exchange pleasantries as people do while standing in the produce aisle. But when he and I looked at one another, there was something there — a smile, a remembrance, that passed between us quietly and innocently, and I could almost feel the wind in my hair once again.

“He just looks like a dried up little old man,” my friend continued. “Doesn’t he look old to you?”

I smiled. “No,” I said.

And I meant it. For when I looked at my friend across the table from me and the other sitting across the room, I still saw them as they once were. I saw my first love and my forever friend.

I was looking at them with different eyes than perhaps most people saw them. I was seeing them through eyes of love. I knew neither would ever look old to me.

And as I glanced across the room once more, his piercing blue eyes met mine and he gave me that crooked smile. I thought — no, I am certain — that I felt the wind in my hair one more time. And it was a sweet memory indeed.

Eyes of Love By Anna B. Ashby
From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for the Young at Heart
http://www.chickensoup.com/ Changing Lives One Story At A Time
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
June 1, 2001

On Tuesday the best man I know will do what he always does on the 21st of the month. He’ll sit down and pen a love letter to his best girl. He’ll say how much he misses her and loves her and can’t wait to see her again. Then he’ll fold it once, slide it in a little envelope and walk into his bedroom. He’ll go to the stack of love letters sitting there on her pillow, untie the yellow ribbon, place the new one on top and tie the ribbon again.

The stack will be 180 letters high then, because Tuesday is 15 years to the day since Nellie, his beloved wife of 53 years, died. In her memory, he sleeps only on his half of the bed, only on his pillow, only on top of the sheets, never between, with just the old bedspread they shared to keep him warm.

There’s never been a finer man in American sports than John Wooden, or a finer coach. He won 10 NCAA basketball championships at UCLA, the last in 1975. Nobody has ever come within six of him. He won 88 straight games between Jan. 30, 1971, and Jan. 17, 1974. Nobody has come within 42 since.

So, sometimes, when the Madness of March gets to be too much — too many players trying to make SportsCenter, too few players trying to make assists, too many coaches trying to be homeys, too few coaches willing to be mentors, too many freshmen with out-of-wedlock kids, too few freshmen who will stay in school long enough to become men — I like to go see Coach Wooden. I visit him in his little condo in Encino, 20 minutes northwest of L.A., and hear him say things like “Gracious sakes alive!” and tell stories about teaching “Lewis” the hook shot. Lewis Alcindor, that is. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

There has never been another coach like Wooden, quiet as an April snow and square as a game of checkers; loyal to one woman, one school, one way; walking around campus in his sensible shoes and Jimmy Stewart morals. He’d spend a half hour the first day of practice teaching his men how to put on a sock. “Wrinkles can lead to blisters,” he’d warn. These huge players would sneak looks at one another and roll their eyes. Eventually, they’d do it right. “Good,” he’d say. “And now for the other foot.”

Of the 180 players who played for him, Wooden knows the whereabouts of 172. Of course, it’s not hard when most of them call, checking on his health, secretly hoping to hear some of his simple life lessons so that they can write them on the lunch bags of their kids, who will roll their eyes. “Discipline yourself, and others won’t need to,” Coach would say. “Never lie, never cheat, never steal,” Coach would say. “Earn the right to be proud and confident.”

You played for him, you played by his rules: Never score without acknowledging a teammate. One word of profanity, and you’re done for the day. Treat your opponent with respect.

He believed in hopelessly out-of-date stuff that never did anything but win championships. No dribbling behind the back or through the legs. “There’s no need,” he’d say. No UCLA basketball number was retired under his watch. “What about the fellows who wore that number before? Didn’t they contribute to the team?” he’d say. No long hair, no facial hair. “They take too long to dry, and you could catch cold leaving the gym,” he’d say.

That one drove his players bonkers. One day, All-America center Bill Walton showed up with a full beard. “It’s my right,” he insisted. Wooden asked if he believed that strongly. Walton said he did. “That’s good, Bill,” Coach said. “I admire people who have strong beliefs and stick by them, I really do. We’re going to miss you.” Walton shaved it right then and there. Now Walton calls once a week to tell Coach he loves him.

It’s always too soon when you have to leave the condo and go back out into the real world, where the rules are so much grayer and the teams so much worse. As Wooden shows you to the door, you take one last look around. The framed report cards of the great-grandkids. The boxes of jelly beans peeking out from under the favorite wooden chair. The dozens of pictures of Nellie.

He’s almost 90 now, you think. A little more hunched over than last time. Steps a little smaller. You hope it’s not the last time you see him. He smiles. “I’m not afraid to die,” he says. “Death is my only chance to be with her again.”

Problem is, we still need him here.

Sports Illustrated, Issue date: March 20, 2000 
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