My cool day
A couple came in around noon and was looking around at items in the store. The wife asked if we had an item in stock, I checked on it and we did. She decided to purchase said item. While ringing her up, I asked for her zip code (something we ask of every customer). She gave me one that I'd recognized as from Long Island. I say "Lindenhurst? Jericho?" and she replies that she's from Syosset, a town on the north shore of Long Island.
She looked at me quizzically, and I explained that I was from Merrick. East Meadow, she says. Practically neighbors, we joked. We talked about how much warmer it is here, that they're in town for the day, that they've got a house elsewhere in Florida that they hope to move to full time someday.
Then she asked if she could leave the item with me while they shopped in other stores. Sure, can I get your name to put on it? Nystrom, she replies. I comment that she has the same last name as my all time favorite hockey player. "That's my husband!"
In talking, she tells me that they're here for the Lightning game tonight. Cool! I mentioned that I had moved to a hockey shy place before getting here, so I didn't follow it much these days. She teases me that I obviously hadn't, since I didn't know that the Calgary Flames had a Nystrom wearing the 23 again-their son!
I told her that when I was a kid, I was a huge fan of Bob's. One year, I got one of the very expensive hockey jerseys with Nystrom and 23 on the back. At the time, I was so short, my Mom had to cut at least 8 inches off the sleeves so I could wear it. Worn it got, at least once a week during hockey season for all those years. His wife, Michelle, said she'd send him back in to the store to pick up their package so I could say hello.
I'd met him a hand full of times before when I was a kid. He was the Spokesperson for the March of Dimes Walkathons on LI. I was a school representative for them all through junior and high school, and each year, he'd be at the kickoff meetings for all the volunteers. It was great-he didn't mind being swarmed by forty or so kids at these things. At one event, I brought him pictures I had taken at the previous fall's bike a thon and he autographed that, along with other pictures (I'd taken it with a 35mm, so this must have been '82). When you're 12, 14, even 18, meeting a sports star is a huge deal. (Someday, a story about meeting some sports stars when I was 3 1/2)
About an hour later, Bob and Michelle returned to the store. One of my coworkers is also a downstate NYer and he had just arrived to work. I ask him (in Bob's earshot-I am evil) "Ranger fan or Islander fan?" and he indignantly answers "Rangers!". Bob laughed when I said that I wasn't going to introduce him to the man standing there.
We chatted for a few minutes, about how they should move down here. Enjoy the game tonight was my parting comment to them. Then, I told my coworker who the man was: Bobby Nystrom, NY Islanders. He scored the goal at 7:11 in overtime the 7th game of the Stanley Cup playoffs in '81 for their first in a string of Stanley Cup victories. I hear "You like hockey?"
I have to say this. When you're a short kid, you think everyone, but everyone, is tall. I didn't notice him when I first looked at him because he isn't all that much taller than me! Oh, that and he no longer has a walrus mustache and flowing blonde hair. He still has plenty of hair, but it's darkened (time on the ice lightens hair?) with time. When he came back, once I looked at his face, yeah, this is the same guy. A guy who fit right in with everyone else shopping today.
It was pretty neat. Nice folks, especially since they indulged me in gushing over Mr. Islander. In the days of athletes with huge salaries and corresponding egos, it was nice to go back in time and remember the days when you idolized an athlete for their ability, approachability and athleticism.