Buffalo Bouncy Balls (Year Two: 2015.9.18)

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I actually spoke with my mom not so long ago about this trip and the effect it had on me. I learned a lot of things in Reno that night.

A while back, I took a trip to Reno and it was pretty rough. I was followed around by a car for like… five miles of me looping around downtown Reno. I was pulled over for a tail light issue. I wasn’t able to hang out with any of the people I tried to spend time with. Some ignored me, some were busy, and all around it was a pretty rough trip. However, like everything else in this life, it wasn’t without wonderful things. At the end, I got to have lunch with my old friend Emma, who I hadn’t heard from in a number of minutes. (Months, maybe.) We talked about her schooling and her boyfriend and the band she was in at the time. I talked about books, basically. (That’s all I have to talk about anymore. I need to find new topics.) Regardless, it was great to see her bright shining face after two days of suck.

There was one other thing however, that I have been waiting to write about until the right time. That time would be right now, because of certain events in my life.

So, let me set the day…

I arrived in Reno, went to drop a book off to a girl I met in a Barnes & Noble on a previous trip. Found out she no longer worked there, since I didn’t get any of her information I couldn’t message her or anything. So I left the bookstore kind of bummed. (Something I never do. Not from a book store.) I then stopped off at the mall and at some other stores to poke around and kill time. After so long I headed out. It was getting late, so I texted another friend asking to hang out. They didn’t reply. I texted the next person I wanted to see and likewise they didn’t reply either, so I was driving around Reno with no real goal in mind. Just looking for something cool to visit. Then, the second friend sent me a message telling me that they would be off work late but they would love to see me. So I parked my car in a Target parking lot and read “It” until I was to get word back, I sat in that parking lot for almost two hours, about an hour and a half after they told me they would be finished working and ready to meet up. So I figured, whatever, I’m starving. I need to get food. If nobody else messages me back I’ll find a place to crash and do so. So, I had never been to a Buffalo Wild Wings and there was one in the parking lot, so I popped over and decided to grab some food. After I had put in my order I sat on the bench listening to music and watching the people there.

Among the people coming to eat, there was this one waitress who I’m still pretty sure thought I was stalking her because every time I happened to look her way she was looking at me, and eventually she started taking the long way around the entrance. But hey, if by some longshot she’s reading this, I just thought you were cute. I wasn’t trying to be creepy, I promise. It was definitely an accident and I am not insane. I just don’t know when to blink, really.

Regardless of that, all these people were running around and completing tasks, getting beer, running food, seating tables. It felt homey to watch because that is my element, the chaos of a restaurant on a busy night is one of the places I feel most at home. Standing amid this clamor of people was an older gentleman in a black polo with black jeans and some non-slip work shoes, holding a 40 gallon trash bag full of bouncy balls. Propped up before him was one of those arcade machines where you use a claw to get a toy of some kind for 50 cents. The front door was open and this guy was placing these rubber balls into the container, slowly and carefully. I ended up watching him do it for close to twenty minutes because it was so enthralling.

My first thought was that his job probably sucks. He has to go into a bunch of really loud places with screaming kids and grumpy parents and greasy pizza and load these dumb balls into glass containers so people can blow money trying to get them. As soon as I had this thought, it was replaced by another. The look on this guy’s face.

It was the most peaceful, happy look I have seen in years. He was just smiling into the glass box and taking these rubber balls one at a time and moving them around, making sure that they all sat comfortably. I began to wonder why I didn’t have that look as often.

There was this guy, who had what seemed like a pretty boring job, who looked like he was loving every second of it. Adjusting, placing, grabbing a new ball and repeating the process. I wonder how often people have seen me working at any of my jobs and seen the same look. Probably not nearly as often as I’d like, or at all. I tend to have resting bitch face. Even if I’m on top of the world, my face still apparently tells people that someone dumped on my shoes before I came into work. One guy at a table even told me I always looked like I could smell something bad.

Maybe it was me, I dunno. Maybe he was trying to hint at something without hurting my feelings. (This whole thing will be relevant again next week. Just so you know.)

Anyway, as I watched this guy, I started playing out his thoughts in my own head. Just a made up scenario based on what I was seeing. He was standing there, maybe humming a tune to himself, maybe thinking about all the kids that were going to be over the top to realize that they now have their very own bouncy ball. Maybe his next stop was a strip joint and he was excited to see the women. I have no idea.

What I do know, is regardless of the reason, that guy enjoyed what he was doing in that moment. It was one of those small moments that changed my outlook forever.

So, next time either of us are stupid busy at work, or we are having a rough night, let’s think about rubber ball guy. How happy he was to be doing his job. How okay he felt about the whole thing. Knowing that what he was doing right then was going to make someone happy in the future.

I may never see that man again, I probably won’t, but I will always carry that memory with me when I’m serving tables, cooking food, writing, or when a friend calls me asking for help at an ungodly hour of the night.

I will always remember that the things I’m doing now will hopefully make someone feel like a happy child in the near future.

I’ve got to say, that’s a good feeling. I hope one day I get to give all of you a cool rubber ball and you end up smiling like that guy at Buffalo Wild Wings. Then we can all get together in a big room and bounce and smile together.

Yeah, that sounds like fun.

If you enjoyed this blog post + it helped bring a smile to your face, consider picking up the compilation book that it is a part of. 🙂