Josephus

It’s been a more than a week since I met Josephus.

Come to think of it, “met” might be the wrong word since we weren’t introduced and our one conversation was short.

We stood in the same tunnel for shelter from the rain, which first drizzled and then drenched Bryant-Denny Stadium a little while before kickoff.

A group of sorority girls behind us talked a mile a minute about how their hair looked horrible and their sundresses were soaked, but Josephus paid them no mind.

I said Alabama’s offense looked more explosive than any Alabama offense I could remember.

Josephus agreed, but otherwise he just watched the radar and the rain.

He was a man of few words, but he had kind eyes and a name I thought had been retired right after it was given to a Jewish historian in Jesus’ day.

When he rain slowed to a sprinkle Josephus said, “Excuse me.”

Then he walked through the tunnel to point people to their seats and tell them to enjoy the game.

I was in the stadium to see the game, but I’ve forgotten a lot of it.

I was there to see the players play, but I’ve forgotten most of the plays they made.
I barely remember the game’s final score, but I remember Josephus.

Maybe it’s because of his name, which I know only because I saw it on his badge.
Maybe it’s because I’ve known people like him.

They’re people who work hard behind the scenes to make sure others get the most out of the day.

When I was a journalist, I was once asked to speak to a high school journalism class.

It never worked out, which was a stroke of luck for all of those students since I was young and dumb.

I’ve thought some about what I’d say, now, though.

First, I think I’d get the obvious out of the way.

Get ready for long hours, little money, less sleep and a lot of Waffle House.

Build relationships and be yourself.

It’s not as important to get the story first as it is to get the story right.

Read. Write. Read some more.

You’ll make mistakes. Learn from them, and don’t beat yourself up too much.

Then, I’d say don’t miss the best story in your effort to get the big story.

If Jimmy Breslin had covered only the big story of President John F. Kennedy’s funeral he might have missed Clifton Pollard, who dug Kennedy’s grave and gave Breslin one of the best stories of all time.

Everybody knows the players on the field. Everybody watches the actors on the stage.

Few know who’s behind the scenes. Fewer know their stories.

They’re people who work in factories and fields. They’re people who clean buildings and serve breakfasts.

They’re people who drive buses and big rigs. They spend their days in classrooms and kitchens.

They’re everyday people who make every day better.

Don’t just pass them by.

Take time for a talk with Josephus on your way to the field.

His story may stick with you long after the game is over.

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