Many of us in the past have had "unlikely heroes", in our path through life. Someone, who touched us, provided guidance, became an inspiration, and acted as a role model -- but, most of all did it purely because the person was special, and quite often NEVER EVER KNEW that they were acting as a role model.
This is especially true for young people.
I attended a private school in Princeton NJ, The Hun School of Princeton. A terrific school, both boarding and day students...with a wonderful, outgoing group of teachers, engaged students, and a "close knit" environment, due to the small student body. (I think there were 120 students in my class)
My first year of the school, I was a bit rebellious (and one of the reason's my family sent me, thinking that the public school was not "grasping me", or I was not grasping it?) -- and, I had a VERY UNLIKELY HERO HELP ME.
It started in the 9th grade and continued.
He counseled me, gave advice, sat down with me...talked about family, (my parents were going through a divorce) -- helped me BEYOND WORDS. He would take the time out of his day, to spend TIME with me. He helped me talk about what I was going through. He listened....
We washed his car, between the ending of the school day, and the beginning of football practice...(ahh, how he kept his 10 yr old car shiny, and to this day - he taught me the VALUE, and glean of Armor All)....
He would stand on the hill,(overlooking the fields) and watch our football games, or in the gym watch our basketball games/practice -- and offer his insight, and take on what he saw.
We talked, but he never preached. He listened, and gently prodded me into coming up with my own answers. He frequently would say -- when I would say something off the wall, yell out --
"AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW Andy, Cmon Now....."
He was a bit overweight, for his 5 ft frame, his Red "H" Cap that he wore EVERY SINGLE DAY.
He loved life. He loved his job. And, at nearly 60 years old in 1982, he loved being around kids.
He was the janitor/custodian in our gymnasium. He kept it clean, and he went to work everyday with what I believe 2 missions statements in his mind.
1) Do a great job at keeping our school gymnasium, locker room and areas completely clean.
2) Be a role model for these kids, as a janitor.
"Jake, it worked. You have taught me well, and I've taken your values, teaching, and inspiration, (along with your work ethic to like what I'm doing) to help other's with me through my life."
Jake has been dead for over 10 years. He worked at the school for many decades, and inspired many. But, as a custodian, in a private school - he taught what no curriculum, school, books, or plan, could possibly impart on their students.
"Jake, it stuck with me....and YOU have made me a better person."
25 years later, I think I understand what made him a role model.
Jimmy Buffett' song,
"It's My Job.."
In the middle of late last night I was sittin' on a curb
I didn't know what about, but I was feelin' quite disturbed
A street sweeper came whistlin' by, he was bouncin' every step
It seemed strange how good he felt, so I asked him while he swept
He said, "It's my job to be cleaning up this mess
And that's enough reason to go for me
It's my job to be better than the rest
And that makes a day for me."
I'd like to post a pitcure of Jake, but, I don't have one.
Unlikely Heroes, come in all shapes, sizes and forms...when they cross our path...and often times we don't even know they were our heroes till we can sit back and take inventory of our life.
Thanks Mr. Jake...