I don’t know if you know this, but it gets really cold in Chicago during the winter months...
Like, life-threateningly cold.
This means: no playing outside. Which is fine for a guy like me who’s totally okay drinking coffee, reading, and writing all day every day for a few months. But it’s not so fine for a rambunctious 4-year-old with seemingly limitless energy flowing through her veins.
The best move we made on our first winter back in Chicago after some time away was joining the YMCA. They have an an indoor pool and Rory loves swimming, so it was a no-brainer enrolling.
I take her a couple times a week during family swim times and there’s almost always the same kid in the lifeguard stand. His name is Brian and he’s an extremely shy maybe-20-year-old kid with dark hair, pale complexion, and a thin build. Most of the time, I see him sitting there expressionless, staring at the wall (I don’t think they’re allowed to have their phones up there).
I started to realize — and love — how there was always great music playing during family swim. Classy music. There we’d be, swimming with a backdrop of swing and jazz music from the 30’s and 40’s like Rosemary Clooney, Count Basie, and Artie Shaw — such a refreshing change to the typical ‘Adult Contemporary’ or ‘Top 40’ genres that most public family venues play.
After a few weeks of this, one day, as I was putting away the 27 foam noodles and 16 floaty balls back into their proper bins with Rory, I walked by Brian and said, “Hey man, thanks for the classy music. Was that your call or management’s?”
Brian’s eyes lit up. He came alive…
“It’s mine. Before every part of the day, I play a kind of music that I think will fit best. So, for family swim, I feel that this stuff is ideal… You like it?”
“Yeah, I love it! Keep it up, man. Thanks for being so thoughtful.”
“You got it.”
Now, every time I see Brian, there’s eye contact and a head nod. A little thoughtfulness goes a long way. And acknowledging it perpetuates it.
Thanks, Brian. You’re pretty rad.