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The legendary (and NCAA championship-winning) basketball coach John Wooden used to say, “Make each day your masterpiece.”
How do I do that? I was thinking as I dropped by the shoe-repair shop at lunch to get my shoes shined. I’d have to pray about this one.
Unwittingly, I had stepped into the middle of an argument. A young woman, near tears, was saying to the owner, “I can’t give you cash. I only have a twenty-dollar bill. I have to give you a check.”
“We don’t accept checks,” the proprietor said, pointing to a bold-lettered sign next to the cash register that said: CASH ONLY.
I hesitated. Maybe I’d just back out of the door.
“I have to have these boots this weekend!” she said. “I’ll give you twenty dollars and pay the rest with a check.”
“I’m sorry,” he said, insistent. “We don’t accept checks.”
“How much is the rest?” I asked.
She turned to me, pawing through her purse. “Another twenty dollars,” she said. “I don’t have the money.”
OK, God, this doesn’t seem like a masterpiece. Just a quick sketch. “I’ll give you the twenty dollars,” I said, “and you can write me a check.”
“Would you really?” she asked.
“Sure.” She looked about the age of one of my sons, just starting out, struggling to make ends meet. “Make it out to Rick Hamlin.”
She wrote the check, handed it to me. I gave her my twenty and she walked out of the store with her boots. I sat in the chair and the guy began shining my shoes. Closing my eyes, I wondered, God, isn’t there something more I can do?
I only figured it out when I was back at the office. I took her check out of my pocket, saw her address printed there. I wrote her a note, wishing her the best, praying that those boots served her well. I returned her check to her, sealed the envelope, put on a stamp and dropped it in the mail.
“You can’t live a perfect day until you do something for someone who will never be able to repay you,” John Wooden also said.
Now there’s a recipe for masterpiece-making every day.