Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hope found in the bathroom

Once upon a time, I worked in PR for the Philadelphia Phillies. True story. I sat in the press box for 77 of the 80 home games in 2002 (the last one was rained out), watched the entirety of the game and ran errands for whatever press member needed something.

One of the more interesting facets to the job was the stress level. Namely, it wasn't very stressful for me. This was a problem. I'd been warned that one day I would crack, this job really wears on you, etc. Yet the most stressful thing for me was being not stressed. My supervisor was tightly-wound; if there's one thing a tightly wound person hates, it's being around a calm person.

As such, I learned to fake a certain stress level. Seemed like a good idea at the time. When my boss complained about certain reporters, I pretended they bothered me too. I feigned irritation with umpires' calls. I strategically inserted sighs during game play. Like they say in Fight Club, people assume the worst when you don't speak.

The highlight of each game were my trips to the bathroom (bear with me). Since I wasn't supposed to miss any game action, I had less than two minutes to get in, do my business and get out. That added a bit of pressure, but for whatever reason I always liked that.

At any rate, I was in this weird situation where I was faking stress, which gave me actual stress, and had less than two minutes to go to the bathroom. On top of it all, this was my first corporate-type job, which lead to the obligatory "is this what the next 40 years are going to be like?" questions, I was living with my parents AND was in my first year as Christian. One of the weird things about coming to Christ without being raised/schooled Christian is that you literally don't know what to do with yourself. Like, am I just supposed to be nice to people? Give them unsolicited advice on how they're going to Hell unless they accept Jesus? Make a roast beef sandwich for the homeless dude down the street? I simply didn't know how I should act as a Christian (note: kinda still don't, but at least I have ideas now).

Fortunately, I was provided with help. 101 out of 100 men's bathrooms are filled with information on who to call for a good time, how some celebrity sucks, how so and so is gay, and that sort of thing. This one was different. On an green-gray aluminum bathroom, someone had scrawled a message: "You can't handle everything on your own. Your not Superman. Give your worries to Christ" Those words always stuck with me (and not just because of the incorrect use of 'your'). In one of the most negative, loathing cities in the country, in a bathroom used every day by dozens of reporters and sportscasters -- not exactly caring, loving people -- a message of hope. I'm not Superman. Give your worries to Christ. As I've grown older, these words have made even more sense. Human beings -- especially ones who try to choose the biggest piece of Communion bread possible -- are limited, but nothing is too hard for our Sovereign Lord.

I never learned the identity of the bathroom writer. I always figured it was one of the janitors, but that wasn't exactly an easy conversational piece -- Say, did you deface the press box bathroom? I can't imagine he wanted to be identified, anyway. But whoever you are, thank you. Your words made all the difference.

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