Where Have You Been All My Life?
Story by Kenneth L. Pierpont (Author)
Saturday we spent the day on the West Coast of our beloved peninsula enjoying the sandy beach of our own freshwater inland ocean-Lake Michigan. Driving into the parking lot I noticed some of the cars were from out of state. Others were enjoying our Michigan sand and water. Sometimes I will be fly-fishing the cold tail waters of West Michigan and the angler next to me will be from a distant state. He has had to invest significant money and arrange his schedule to share the fishing hole I enjoy only twenty minutes from my front porch. Trout fishing and miles of perfect beaches are a couple things that make Michigan winters tolerable even without a snowmobile or skis.
I packed my journal and some good reading, iced down some soda in a cooler, and we made a day of it. It was a postcard perfect day on the beach. We picked a nice isolated stretch of beach and watched a dozen sailboats out on the blue water. Whenever they overheated in the sun the kids plunged into the cold clear water.
Coming into the park a woman of about 60 named Liz was keeping the gate. I’ve noticed that it is common for people who gravitate to gatekeeper jobs to be petty people who seem to enjoy wielding their authority over others. Not Liz. She was of a different kind. She was the rare kind of person who has the special ability to turn a mundane chore into an event to remember and enjoy.
She took our money, affixed the tag to the inside of our windshield and informed us of the privileges the little tag entitled us to. When she finished her little speech the four dollars we invested in it seemed a paltry sum. After she wished us good day she flashed a big smile and directed her last words at my nineteen-year-old son. “And where have you been all my life?” She said. Kyle laughed as we drove away and said; “You can tell that was a coined phrase,” but I noticed it still brought a smile to his face.
You can divide humanity roughly in half between people who manage to sap the joy out of everything in life, even a trip to the beach, and the “Lizes” of the world who have a flair for adding value to your day. Some people turn every task into a chore others turn every chore into an adventure. I think the state of Michigan should give Liz a raise.