Have A Good Run
Posted by Michael Vacanti
Tucked back in 22A.
Fully caffeinated and slightly irritated.
I was in the perfect state to smash my laptop keys the entire way from LA to New York.
Then someone joined me in 22B.
Steve Was Alive
Not like I am alive or you are alive.
Head down, thumb swiping left and right, refreshing every app in our phone. Begging for distraction from the life in front of us. Drifting without intention. Wasting our one finite roll of the dice.
But not Steve.
Despite having lived what looked like 75 years, this guy was vibrant.
He had clear, blue eyes that expelled giant bursts of energy.
I could see laughter and pain and concern and focus in the deep tan wrinkles under his eyes.
Those brown scars on his bald head… I can guess what he would have said had I asked,
“The doctors got worried about skin cancer, so they had to do some surgery. But it’s really nothing, Mike! You don’t have to worry.”
Bronx born, ‘when the Bronx was the Bronx’ Steve was 31 years a college football referee, a two time superintendant for two different school districts, and a health and gym teacher.
Yes, you would have thought he won the lottery when I told him I worked in fitness.
Steve derived real pleasure from simplicity.
At one point, he told me he had a story for me.
He shifted in his seat. Grinned ear to ear. Connected his right fist lightly with my left shoulder. And said, “Are you ready for this Mike?”
“you may now use portable electronic devices…”
One hour later, after taxiing and take off, the flight attendent brought me back to my world.
With clients depending on me, an article to write and 569 miscellaneous unread emails, my obsessively driven side was unable to shoot the shit for an entire five hour flight with prepaid WIFI.
I pulled my computer out.
“That’s a great laptop Mike. Do you like it??”
Steve and I chatted Apple versus PC briefly before I told him that I do my best work on airplanes. He understood.
Eminem filled my ears and Virgin America coffee dripped into my veins.
90 minutes and 116 emails later, I felt a slug on my right arm.
“You’re really working Mike! That’s great!”
Steve smiled. I smiled back.
Then went back on the grind.
Over the next few hours my productivity dwindled. We chatted intermittently. Joked about 22C having to deal with our overly hydrated bodies.
Steve showed me pictures of his grandsons and the apartment across the street from Yankee Stadium that he grew up in.
I told him about refereeing peewee hockey back in the day.
Then, I dosed off into a deep nap that lasted until our tires hit the asphalt.
And as we sat outside gate A7 of the John F. Kennedy International Airport Terminal 4, the setting sun hit my face.
I gazed out the window at nothing. Thinking about something innocuous, like how to increase my marginal output by either using the cab ride to make phone calls or to design Gary’s next training block.
My meaningless lizard brain was interrupted as Steve patted my shoulder one last time.
He extended his right hand.
I removed an earbud and met his hand with mine.
“Have a good run”
They were unusual parting words.
He immediately began to explain himself.
But I cut him off quickly. Thank you, I said with an appreciative smile.
I knew what Steve meant. And I liked it.
Have a good crack at this life son. Do it fully and do it completely and do it right.
They were words I will not soon forget.
From the back of my Uber,
I try to make sense of it all.
Life. Steve. How to maximize time on our seemingly long but single run.
And I catch a glimpse of the skyline I know too well.
The skyline that inspired me to rise from the ashes. That reminded me a single man’s hands can build greatness. That stirred a fire in my belly and led me from a bad breakup and shitty desk job to a penthouse apartment on the west side of New York City.
But this time, those skyscrapers don’t have their usual energy.
They seem flat compared to Steve.
I don’t know.
Maybe I should slow down.