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  • Random Act of Kindness #1

    This story is about life lessons, not giving up, the kindness of strangers, and a purse.

    Yes, a purse.

    Earlier this month, Jill, Emma and I were fortunate to attend the Pittsburgh Steelers-Kansas City Chiefs game at Heinz Field. Chris Ballard, who grew up across the street from my family in Texas City, now works for the Chiefs and arranged the tickets, complete with a pregame pass to stand on the sidelines.

    Things started smoothly. Traffic was light for once on the trip from Virginia to Pittsburgh — a rare occasion indeed — and we had a nice time with Emma, who we had not seen since she started her freshman year at Point Park University. Emma gathered a group of her friends — new and old — for an Art & Dance shoot at Point State Park.

    All in all, a very nice day leading up to the main event — a nationally televised Sunday Night Football game.

    ••••••

    I hoped to bring my camera to the game, but Chris told me to look at the venue rules beforehand to make sure, and professional cameras were on the don’t list. Security crackdowns have been in force at major events around the country for the past several years, so it came as no surprise. We’ve been to several games at Nationals Park, and know the search-before-entry drill all too well.

    But we didn’t realize that purses were on the banned list, too. Only small clear bags are allowed in the stadium and even if you dump your purse’s contents into an accepted clear bag, you can’t carry the purse in.

    “Sorry, those are the rules,” the security guard said, pointing to a number of purses and bags residing in a nearby trash can.

    Suddenly the nice day was turning almost as dark as the skies above.

    ••••••

    I always tell my kids, "Don't be afraid to ask for something worthwhile, no matter how outlandish the request may seem." The worst thing a person can say is “no,” and rejection is part of life.

    Occasionally, if you’re courteous and polite, people will surprise you with the same in return.

    We didn’t have much time, but I decided to embark on a “Save the Purse” quest. I went to the box office and the customer service desk, asking if someone could hold on to it until after the game, but I was summarily rebuffed.

    Finally, I walked over to the Don’s Appliances truck. Not being from the area, I didn’t know that Don’s is a luxury manufacturer of fancy kitchens, or that the gentleman handing out free samples of food is actually a master chef named Anthony Marino.

    I explained the situation about the purse, the fact we were from out of town, in Pittsburgh to see our daughter, meeting a friend at the game, etc. Could I stash the purse with them and pick it up later?

    Unfortunately, the truck left at kickoff, so that was out of the question.

    Fortunately, Chef Marino is also married — “I understand,” he said with a smile when I told him my story — and an extremely nice person. He offered to ship the purse to us when he went to work the next day.

    Three days later, the package arrived via UPS. All we had to do was mail a check to Don’s Appliances for the shipping.

    So there’s your happy ending, affirmation that even in these most contentious of times, there are still some kind people in this world. Sometimes, all you have to do is ask, and when things work out in your favor, offer a grateful thank you.

    Remember, you never know unless you try.

  • iPhone Photo Challenge: SNF

    This past weekend, Jill, Emma and I were fortunate to attend the Pittsburgh Steelers-Kansas City Chiefs game courtesy of Chris Ballard, a childhood friend from Texas who now works for the Chiefs organization. Also, thanks to Chris' kindness and generousity, we were able to stand on the sidelines during the pregame before going to our seats.

    I did not take my regular camera to the game due to restrictions set by Heinz Field, but used the iPhone as an experiment to see what I could get. (And fortunately, due to the steady rain we faced after kickoff, I'm glad I didn't bring the good camera for once.)

    As I've mentioned before, an iPhone is no substitute for a regular DSLR, but I've learned a few tricks along the way that can result in some good images. So here's a look at Sunday Night Football from a slightly different point of view, with a story of good fortune to follow in due time.

    To see more photos, go to my Facebook album here.