Union station is the last stop at the end of the night. It is not unheard of for a weary commuter to fall asleep on the train and miss their stop. When that happens, metra employees wake the person and help them find a cab so they can go home to whatever town they were supposed to stop in.
One night I was hailed as I was driving by the train station and asked to take a young man home who lived about 20 miles away. I was happy to, of course.
He was VERY grateful for the ride. As we left he told me he fell asleep because he was out with friends and had too much to drink. He was a college freshman. I suspect he was not old enough to drink legally.
We got to talking about school and how he liked college. He was studying communications with a minor in marketing. I asked him what he wanted to do professionally with such a degree as that. He said he wanted to be a sportscaster.
It turns out he has a passion for sports and is a walking almanac of knowledge for all things sports. I asked him if he played any sports in high school or college. There was a sad look on his face as he said no. Due to a medical condition that he has had since he was a child he has to wear a spinal brace.
He compared sportscasters to poets like Emily DIckenson. Though she had never been to some of the places she wrote about, she made them come alive and you could close your eyes and be in those places.
"A good sportscaster can make you feel like you are there on the field. You can feel the cold wind on your face on the gridiron. You can see the wide receiver's eyes widen as he is about to catch the ball and you know it is your moment to get your hands up and block the reception of the pass forcing a punt in the next play. You can feel the tension of the mental chess game between pitcher and batter in the seventh inning as the pitcher with a raw and tired shoulder in agony is trying to stay in and is only seven or eight batters away from his first perfect game."
He went on and on about his favorite games that he could state play by play because he was THERE. He may have only seen it on television or heard it on the radio, but he was there. Every play, every moment. Present in his imagination. The gift he wants to give to other sports fans in to transplant them onto fields and courts and stadiums. He wants to inspire and invite imagination and bring to life that which only well chosen words can do.
We pulled up to his house to see two parents in bathrobes and crossed arms standing at the doorway.
He looked at me and said,"Any advice?"
"Keep your head low, don't talk back, let them be angry and concerned and go to bed when they are done."
"They will eventually stop being mad and you can graduate, get a job in sports broadcasting and this will be forgotten and they will be proud of you."
"How do you know that?"
"Tonight, you took me to several exciting places in moments that I will never forget. In the wake of that, moments like this are easily forgotten in time."
"Can you promise that?"
"No. Good luck."
"Thanks for listening to my dreams."