Saturday's baseball game was more than just a game.
89 degrees and sunny. The only saving grace was a slight breeze that came and went. When it went, we got a muggy reminder of just how hot it was.
Our job was to watch the game and cheer for our team. Our voices hung heavy in the air thick with moisture as we made polite conversation before the game began.
Here's how it works: We arrive about an hour before game time. Another game is in progress. Their fans occupy the best viewing spots. After the game, they vacate quickly and we take their spots or move our chairs into position so we can get a good view without blocking anyone.
To position your chair before the earlier game is over constitutes a punishable offense. Please refrain or face the wrath of enthusiastic and over-scheduled team parents. You know what they do to subversives, don't you?
As sweat trickled down my back, I regretted insisting that Sophie come with me to the game. She'd made it clear on many occasions that she has no interest in watching baseball, not even (or maybe especially) when her brother plays.
She fanned herself with a card she was using as a bookmark. Her face turned pink under the fuming sun. My skin prickled from the heat and I looked longingly at the University of Georgia canopy shading some of the parents on the bleachers.
"We should have brought parasols," I whined.
"We're not really Southern. We don't have parasols. We have umbrellas," Sophie snapped.
This was going to be a fun afternoon for sure.
The current game ended right on time. The fans stood and stretched.
"You can have it for five dollars," one of the guys joked back.
That seemed more than reasonable to me.
The joking went back and forth. The price rose to ten dollars. Still reasonable!
"Actually, it's not even mine to sell," the man finally admitted. "It's his." He pointed to another man who was returning from the restroom.
"I just sold your tent to these gals for ten dollars," he said to the owner.
The owner paused for a second and considered us.
"Hey, you can use it. If you can get it to us by five o'clock at East Paulding High School, you're welcome to borrow it."
"Really?" East Paulding is on our way home.
"Sure. Why not?" He smiled.
Why not indeed? I know people (maybe I'm one) who could give you twenty-three reasons why you don't leave expensive equipment with a bunch of strangers you might never see again, except he sees us all the time at these games.
We thanked him profusely as he told us how to take the canopy down, pointed out the collapsible wagon for transporting it and exchanged phone numbers with me.
Many times throughout the game, those of us enjoying the shade remarked at his kindness and generosity. It was easily ten degrees cooler under the canopy.
Even Sophie had a good time.
Our game ended early and we got the tent back to its owner well before he needed it at 5:00. I thanked him again and he acted like it was nothing. His act of kindness was no big deal.
It was a very big deal to those of us who would have been puddling in the sun.
When is the last time you were the giver or receiver of some act of kindness?