I thought it’d be fun to write about something completely different this week. And so I decided to share a little secret with you. It’s not a deep, dark secret… I’m actually not sure why I haven’t talked about it to anybody except my close friends.
I found my happy place. Back in March I took a part-time job working as an usher for my favorite baseball team, the Minnesota Twins. And the experience throughout this first season blew me away.
If you know me even a little you know I love baseball, and in particular, the Twins. I’ve been a fan since I was a little kid. I used to tuck a small AM radio under my pillow when I went to bed, just so I could listen to the baseball game. Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Danny Ford, and Harmon Killebrew…and eventually, Kirby Puckett, each became my heroes.
Through my 25 years in Nashville, I would wear Twins hats and jackets, even though I was the only one cheering on my faraway team. But when I’d come visit Minnesota, and hit up a game, it was amazing to be surrounded by thousands of my people. Through all their ups and downs, the Twins were always the team I cheered for the most. Moving back to Minnesota in 2018 held the promise of more in-person games. Heck, I could even walk to the stadium!
I was always impressed by the experience I had at the stadium. I could never figure out why a stadium would put so much emphasis on kindness and exceptional customer service by the employees, but it would leave an indelible mark, regardless of a win or loss.
I noticed most of the super friendly Guest Services employees appeared to be retirees, apparently choosing to spend their free time at the ballpark. I filed that away as something I’d love to do “once I got older.”
When March rolled around earlier this year, and I found myself with a ton of free time on my hands, I was intrigued by a post on Twitter from the Twins asking for part-time Guest Services help for the new season. And everything clicked. It was a sudden and profound yes. And I had no idea how much of a yes it would become. (And maybe I am actually “older.”)
As a Guest Services employee we would be assigned to a particular location for the game. Sometimes I was at a gate greeting guests and scanning tickets or handing out giveaways. Sometimes I was in a particular section, wiping down seats, or keeping things in order. Sometimes (and many times for a first-year person) I was assigned to an elevator. Yep, sitting in an elevator for six or so hours, making sure people get to the right floor, and out of the secure areas. Of course, I had a good time wherever I was, striking up meaningful, if momentary, conversations with whomever was willing. Many times I didn’t see a minute of the game, except maybe on a TV or over the speaker in my elevator.
But there were a good handful of times when I was able to get fully engrossed in the play on the field and experience the euphoria of a last minute walk-off home run to win the game. I’d celebrate with the other ushers and guests, high-fiving and maybe even dancing a bit. I had no shame.
I loved welcoming people to the field, answering their questions about bathroom locations or must-try foods. I even enjoyed the times when I had to address “issues” (usually related to a guest doing something infringing on other people’s experience).
We experienced all the weather you could imagine. From opening day with near freezing temps, to the hottest heat and blaring sunshine you could imagine. Throw in some snow, rain, and even a tornado into the mix, and you have a pretty good picture of what we went through this year.
But the best part of it all was being surrounded by like-minded people who love the sport of baseball, and this team, in particular. We cared about the game, we cared about giving the guests an excellent experience, and we cared about each other. Help was always near, if needed. I found the kindest people I’d ever been around and I felt like I belonged.
After experiencing opening day, I told a friend that it felt like I had always wanted church to feel. A place where people were excited to go, and a commitment to treating each other with kindness and respect, and a willingness to jump in and help each other have the best experience possible. I hope you get to experience that someday.
I can’t believe the season is over. We had our final home game last Thursday and even had an employee picnic in the stadium over the weekend. I will miss it. I will miss my people.
The team showed great promised in the first half of the year, and then became riddled with injuries and a paralyzed offense. We seem to always end the year saying, “Maybe next year!”
But for me, there’s no maybe. I’ll definitely be back in my happy place. And I hope to see you there, too.
What is YOUR happy place? I’d love to hear if there’s a particular place or situation that makes you happy!
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I am also a fan of baseball over all other sports. Having been an usher several years for the Nashville Sounds I know what the Guest Services experience is like. As to my happy place it would be early morning on nice days on my screened porch where I have my priority time reading God’s Word and time in prayer as I prepare for the day.
I love this story, Mark! I found my happy place about 15 years ago. ❤️