Friday, December 13, 2013

HUSKER POWER

Many of you know that I ride the city bus to work on a daily basis. I gave up driving to work years ago so I could have extra time to work out. At first that meant running home from work. But within a couple years, Omaha Metro added bicycle racks onto the bus. I've been bringing my bike along ever since. There are many other benefits to riding the bus. It's a low stress commute. It's green. It saves me money. But best of all, I have a community of (bus) friends that has developed over the years.

My buddy Scott is one of these friends.

Scott is a special needs adult. I've never asked him, but I believe that he has some sort of autism. He's highly functional. He's 30 something and has worked as a bus boy at local restaurant for over ten years. He takes the early bus to get to his workplace by 9:00 AM, easily over an hour before he's required to clock in. He's a dedicated employee, but doesn't necessarily do this to be to work on time. He gets to work early so he can devour the Omaha World Herald Sports section while sitting at the bar with an unending supply of Mountain Dew.

Scott's a rabid sports fan. Of course, the Huskers are his favorite team. I've grown to accept that not even six years of bus rides can come anywhere close to covering the breadth of his Husker knowledge. He's scarlet and cream omniscient. Like, pick a number, say #92, and he'll tell you their name (Kevin Williams), home town (Holland, OH), position (DT) and year (So). He knows who's being recruited, what their rivals.com rank is and how many recruits have already committed (19) for the next year's class. True story. He was telling me about next year's recruits yesterday morning.

Back in September, Scott told me that a friend of his was taking him to this year's Nebraska/Iowa game (November 29th). Scott was besides himself because not only was he going to the game, but he was also going to be watching from a luxury sky box. Oh gosh. I heard about the sky box practically every bus ride for the next two months.

Well to my surprise, my buddy Shim also had an extra ticket and invited me to the game a few days beforehand. It was my turn to be excited. Despite being a Huskers fan, I had never been to a game at Memorial stadium.

Scott and I had lots to talk about on the bus the next day.

The game itself turned out to be a bust. Iowa beat Nebraska at Memorial stadium for the first time in some 73 years. Despite a dreadful first half of poor field position and two interceptions, the Huskers were still in the game in the 3rd quarter. The crowd got behind them, and for a moment, the HUSKER POWER! cheer seemed to be working. The team was gaining momentum. Then a failed fake punt attempt deep in Husker territory followed by another turnover (fumble), and a few personal fouls shut it all down. By the fourth quarter, a rout was underway and the only feeble voice in Memorial stadium still yelling HUSKER POWER was Shim, and he was wearing Hawkeye black and gold. I forgot to mention that Shim's an Iowa grad. Jerk.

It gets worse. Head coach Bo Pelini had another post game press conference meltdown, saying that the referee made a chickenshit call (personal foul) when Bo swiped his hat in front of the ref's face during a heated argument. That, and Bo telling the press that the NU admin could go ahead and fire him if they wanted to wasn't exactly how you want to conduct a press conference. It was ugly.

On Monday, I met Scott at the bus stop. He was happy to see me. He asked what I thought of the game. I grumbled for a good minute, renouncing my allegiance to Pelini, to the Huskers, and to football in general: college, Pro, powder puff, you name it. I wasn't going to waste another minute of my life on football.

When I was done, Scott leaned in, dipped his head and said, "You just got discouraged, Brady. It's okay. You just got discouraged. That's all."

Now let me tell you, those words were the tonic I needed. And I'm not just talking about the Huskers here. Yes, that was part of it. I was bleeding Husker red. But other recent disappointments -- stuff at work, personal relationships, bike races -- these also lost their discouraging sting when I thought about his advice.

Now how could that be?

It way the way in which he said it. His tone. He offered hope for the future while giving permission to be momentarily discouraged. It was solid wisdom.

It's funny how giving someone permission to be discouraged can actually be encouraging.

Thanks Scott. Go Big Red. Happy Friday everyone.

2 comments:

  1. I love how Nebraska fans always throw out that 73 year stat. The fact is that in the past 73 years they have only played in Lincoln five times now and the record after last month is 4-1. A little less impressive when you look at it that way.

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  2. Thanks for your comment Shim. By the way, I only knew about the 73 year dealy from the Hawkeye fans gloating about how satisfying the win was that broke the streak.

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