About eight or ten days ago I described my experience with a young man who was at the grocery store trying to raise money for his public high school baseball team. I explained how I had offered to donate if he could answer a simple question on geography – and how he failed that test – and a second question as well.
So when I went to the same store last Saturday and saw several mid-teen boys wearing baseball uniforms, I knew they were going to solicit me as I left with my groceries. And they did.
The banner that they had put in place said that the sponsors for this baseball team was the American Legion. And one young man enthusiastically came up to me and said, “Excuse me, we are raising money for our baseball team and would appreciate it if you could help us out.” I truly appreciated his politeness which it is so hard to find these days in most children – and not much easier to find in most adults.
So I made him an offer.
“If you can answer one question about American history, I’ll give your team a dollar. Do you want to try?”
He said, “Sure.”
“Name one of the Founding Fathers.”
Without more than a second’s hesitation he replied, “Benjamin Franklin.”
I smiled, pulled a dollar from my pocket and put it in the donations jar which sat at the front of the table the team had put up. As I turned to get my groceries, I could see the young man had a broad grin on his face. He was proud of himself for knowing the answer to my question and proud that he had raised money for his team.
So I decided to ask him a second question if he were willing to try. When I suggested that, he enthusiastically said he would like to give it a shot.
My second question was, “Name the three branches of American government established in the Constitution of the United States.”
As he thought about the question, I reached in my pocket and pulled out another dollar which I held in my hand.
In only a few seconds he replied, “Legislative and Executive.” I was pretty sure he knew the third one but was struggling a bit to retrieve it from his memory. All of a sudden it came to him and he said, “Judicial.”
“Correct again.” And I walked over and put that dollar in the jar.
I was very impressed with this young man because if I were to ask that of most kids his age, a majority would come up with the DMV.
I said, “Want to go a third time?”
“Yes, please,” he said. I think that he was genuinely enjoying this.
So I reached for another dollar and held it in my hand.
“Who is the Vice-President of the United States.”
I thought this might prove a little problematic for him, so I was willing to give him some extra time to think about it.
Much to my surprise, not five seconds passed when this young man blurted out, “That idiot Joe Biden.”
I put the dollar bill back in my pocket. You should have seen the crestfallen look that occupied this young lad’s face. “Wasn’t that right?”
I said, “Young man, I couldn’t have given a better answer myself.”
I pulled the little stash of remaining bills from my pocket and removed a five dollar bill, which I showed him before I deposited it in the collection jar.
When I returned to pick up my groceries, the smile that had come over this young man’s face was all-consuming. I wished him a good day and encouraged him to keep up with his school work. As I left I said, “America needs young people like you.”
I’m pretty sure that as I walked to my car, there was a grin on my face that could have rivaled any Cheshire cat’s. That encounter made my day and gave me reason to believe that there is still some hope for America.