Category Archives: Modern Life

Tony, We’ll Miss You

When we were young and impressionable it used to be pretty easy to have heroes. Whether they were athletes, politicians, or even fictional “super-heroes” it was easy to focus on the great things they did. If they had flaws, they weren’t obvious. Members of the younger generations now have a much more difficult time finding heroes. These days it’s much harder to see people so positively because we know so much more – both good and bad – about them. Today, a president could not be confined to a wheelchair with more than 90% of the American public being unaware of it as was the case while FDR was president.

So it is with heartfelt sorrow that I reminisce about the great Tony Gwynn who had only one known vice – chewing tobacco (which ultimately led to his passing away from cancer). A few weeks ago, Mr. San Diego left us and we are all poorer for it. There are countless truly touching stories from a wide array of people whose lives were touched for the better by this baseball great. Bring a few tissues with you and browse the internet to see just how great he really was as a player, but more importantly, as a person.

I’ll just list a few of the traits that converted me to being a lifelong Tony Gwynn fan.

As a hitter there were none greater during his era. Even the best pitchers (Glavine, Maddox, Martinez) could not consistently get him out. He won 8 batting titles and batted above .300 for 19 years. As a fielder he also won 5 gold gloves. He even stole 56 bases one year. Despite all these accomplishments, nobody has ever heard about them from Tony. As I taught my children and the children I coached to be humble in success, there was no better role model than Tony, the greatest hitter of his era.

Due to his amazing success, Mr. Gwynn had numerous opportunities to move to other teams and make more money. Nevertheless, he turned down these offers and remained with the same team for 20 years. He also showed this same level of commitment in his charity work, family life, and preparation for baseball. Where a less committed person might ease off the hours and hours of studying to improve his performance, Tony kept up the hard work, recognizing that he might be the best in the game, but he could not be the best he could be if he eased off.

Tony Gwynn and Erica

Tony at a restaurant posing with 2 fans – one being my daughter Erica

Tony had a frequent and contagious laugh which seemed a perfect match for his generous nature. If there is anyone about whom it can be said “he enjoyed the journey” it was Tony Gwynn. Despite the pressure of professional baseball or coaching a top division college team or raising a family in these difficult times, Tony never took himself or the vicissitudes of life too seriously. He would always take the time to laughingly share a story with old or new friends. Even at the end of a long day he’d make sure that no young child, awed just to be in his presence, was left with an empty autograph pad or a frown on his face.

The closest I ever came to meeting Tony were the few times I had good seats at a Padre game. However, he significantly impacted my life by allowing my children and the kids I coached in both baseball and softball to have an untainted hero. Everybody in San Diego, even non-baseball fans, knew what it meant to “do it like Tony would.” It meant to give it your all, but to do so humbly, and to have fun along the way. A perfect role model for both young and old has left us – felled by that one and only vice.

Vulnerability, Revisited

Three weeks ago, we were burglarized. My home is in a very safe area, in a very nice – but certainly not ritzy – neighborhood. We have an alarm system, but did not have it armed for the short time we were out to dinner. All that was taken was a 55 inch TV set, the 3 HDMI cables that “go” with it, and a wireless subwoofer. For some reason, they left the sound bar. The culprits smashed the glass in the French door of our walk-out basement, opened the luck, and gained access. One dirty footprint on the lowest stairs to our main level suggests to us that we may have interrupted them before they could get upstairs and continue their work. It’s quite a distance from our lower level door to the street, so the act seems especially brazen and reckless. Read the rest of this entry

Observations from a Dependent Home-Owner

Just as I’m willing to acknowledge my skills and accomplishments, I am comfortable admitting my short suits and failures. From time to time I’ve shared that I’ve always worked outside my home because I’m so much more confident in my professional arena than I am in certain areas of my personal arena. My husband and grown children seem to think I’ve done a pretty good job but, even they would admit I lack much ability to diagnose, repair, or evaluate some essential technology-dependent functions in my home. That’s why the company that provides me with a “bundle” of phone service, TV, and internet is such a part of my life – I’m dependent upon them for communication, entertainment and research. And I have disliked them intensely because, during the last 3 or 4 months, they’ve all but taken over my life – not just a part of it. Allow me to vent (by the way – they don’t seem to want to hear me vent when I call, and, 5 times out of 6, struggle to find my 2-year account, and totally overlook that they’re hardly the only show in town, and I could easily switch to a competitor. And we plan to!) Read the rest of this entry

Reconnecting … and Recharging

There are some days I wonder why I continue to be a school transportation director.  There’s certainly not a long line of applicants for the job. I usually quickly put those thoughts out of my mind and get to work providing service for students and their parents. Frequently this means dealing with angry and upset parents, irritated administrators, and frustrated staff. On those days I console myself in the firm belief that I am making a difference in the lives of students.

Last Friday was one of those days. A brief perusal of my calendar presaged the tedium of multiple meetings punctuated by the occasional “customer service” call. Not realizing that the day would turn out to be so busy, a couple of weeks earlier I had agreed to visit one of our elementary schools to read to students during Literacy Week. Read the rest of this entry

Having the Guts to Make Fewer Commitments

I did it again.  I said the words “If I can help. . .” without thinking through the implications.  This time, I was offering to babysit a neighbor’s children.  When I said it two weeks ago to a brand new acquaintance, she emailed me within days to ask if I could take her to a doctor’s appointment (I couldn’t, and I didn’t).  I told a fellow member of a social organization to which I belong to “call me if you need anything,” despite the fact that I’m truly booked out through Thanksgiving.  My frequent offers to help – well-intended though misguided – are symptomatic of my tendency to overcommit.  I genuinely wish I could be “there” for everyone.  Maybe it takes guts I’ve not yet developed to refrain from offering more than I can give. Read the rest of this entry

Summer Travel and An Apology to Our Readers

The summer conference and training schedules have dashed our hopes and plans of posting more frequently. We’re truly sorry. We hope to get back to the regular schedule in the fall, filled with new ideas and inspirations from our summer experiences. Peggy is also temporarily on the disabled list recovering from surgery.

One of the benefits of writing this blog is that we get to share frustrations and ideas. We also get to pass on praise and complaints. In that spirit I offer the following.

It has been both a pleasure and an honor to be invited to so many venues. However, the travels have had their highs and lows. Here’s a light look from recent travels: Read the rest of this entry

Repeat Performances: A Rant

Sometimes a school transportation director or manager who has been to one or more of my presentations pays me the ultimate compliment:  “You’ve made a difference for kids.”  What more could I ask for?  Well, the “more” I seek is a sense that the same problems don’t constantly recur.

I’m a story teller, and the stories I tell in my presentations are the situations I read about in lawsuits.  They can make for heart breaking reading, tragic tales, but serve as excellent training tools.  And so, when I put my hard-core lawyer’s suit of armor on, and steel myself to the reality that these stories are about real kids who have, often, suffered real pain, I can actually find some perverse satisfaction in coming across a new story. Read the rest of this entry

Preparing Students for the World Beyond

We frequently urge school transportation professionals to see themselves as an integral part of the education process.  At the same time, I often become aware of drivers’ reluctance to comment on students’ inappropriate communications, disrespectful behavior, and failure to follow the rules.  Sometimes that reluctance is the subject of court cases that have led me to say, often, “Doing nothing is never the right thing” when students bully or harass other students.  “Doing nothing” is certainly “never the right thing” when students fail to follow essential rules of conduct that are directly related to the safety of everyone on the bus – rules as basic as staying in their seats while the bus is moving. Read the rest of this entry

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