Monday, April 09, 2007
It's A Small World After All
I attended school from the first through the seventh grades in Vidalia, Louisiana.
There were a number of kids that lived there that whole time too. Then we moved to Monroe, Louisiana, where I went from eighth grade until I graduated from high school.
Some time during my eleventh and twelfth grade years, Big Sis and Long Suffering Brother In Law (LSBIL) were living in Alexandria, Louisiana.
I went down to visit them when I could, sometimes on my own, and other times with my parents.
They had a next door neighbor named Mike B., who was same age as me, and we became friends. Sometime while there, I looked through his high school yearbook.
Lo and behold, there, voted Mr. Alexandria Senior High, was Pat G., one of the kids I went from first through seventh grade with in Vidalia.
I freaked out and told Mike B. that I was childhood school friends with Pat G. Mike called over to Pat's house, and we went over there.
I hadn't seen Pat G. in about four or five years. We sat out on his family's home's back patio. Pat, myself, Mike, and a couple of Pat's friends that were over there sat and talked. It was really neat to talk to Pat again after those years.
A couple of years later, I was attending Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe, and was walking between classes when I happened upon Pat G.
We stood and caught up on life and shook hands. I don't remember seeing him any more there though. This was around 1982.
Life went on. I earned my Associates Degree, worked for a restaurant chain, lived in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and Bossier City, Louisiana. I quit the restaurant business and was hired by Delta Airlines an moved to Dallas, Texas, and finally ended up in Atlanta, Georgia between 1989 and 1992.
Sometime in that period, Atlanta applied for and won the honor of hosting the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. This was 1990, I think. They had six years to get everything built and ready.
I remember that the announcement naming the 1996 host city was at a press conference and meeting of the International Olympic Committee in Tokyo, Japan.
Atlanta sent a whole delegation over there to Tokyo to have some home town folks there in case Atlanta was named the host city.
Of course it was.
Delta had supplied a Lockheed L-1011 to take all the folks in the Atlanta delegation to Tokyo.
I was working at Hartsfield then, and was working my shift the night that plane with all the Atlanta delegates got back to Atlanta.
I was in the break room with a bunch of coworkers and we were watching the live newscast from above us in one of the concourses. A bunch of people in Atlanta came to the airport to meet the Atlanta Olympic delegation at the gate. Sort of a champions welcome.
This delegation was made up of many people that in one way or another worked to help bring the Olympics to Atlanta. They were rewarded with a trip to Japan for the announcement. It was their good fortune that Atlanta was named the host city, and they walked off the plane to cheers from hundreds of people who came and filled the gate area for their return.
As we were watching the folks walk off the plane, waving and smiling at the crowd like conquering heroes, I was stunned to see someone walk off that plane that I knew.
It was surreal to be on the ground level, watching something on TV that was happening somewhere above us, and see none other than Pat G., childhood school chum and former Mr. Alexandria Senior High.
I shouted, "Hey, I know that guy!" and a couple of coworkers said, "Yeah, right."
I sat down in the break room, still watching the people get off the plane and was just amazed that yet again, Pat G. turns up.
I waited a couple of days, and one evening I looked his name up in the Atlanta phone book and called him. I had to explain who I was, but he remembered me, even though it had been years and years since playing on the school yard, and he even remembered Mike B. and I coming to his house in Alexandria and us seeing one another at Northeast La. Univ. that time.
We caught up a bit on the phone, and he said he had indeed worked to help get the Olympics to Atlanta and was chosen to be one of the delegates to go to Japan for the announcement. He had transferred from Northeast to LSU, and finished his degree there. I had remembered that his dad was a huge LSU fan, so I bet he was proud of Pat. Pat was working for a bank in Atlanta at the time I talked with him.
I haven't seen or talked to him since; our lives continued to diverge. But I sometimes wonder about Pat and what he might be doing now. Pat was one of those personable, energetic guys that is probably so far up the corporate ladder now it would amaze me. I hope he's well.
File this one under, It's A Small World After All.