As a kid I went to the games at Gardener Park to play football with my friends while the real game was going on under the lights. I didn’t care what was happening on the field, we were living our own glory behind the bleachers. After a sweat filled game, we searched for him. We knew he was around, somewhere. Sure we could have gone to the concession stand and gotten the same thing, but it never tasted as good as his. There he was. I gave him my fifty-cents.
The buttery goodness of popcorn touched our tongues, while we raced over to the concession stand to grab a pop. For many years he was a constant. In our adolescence, we laughed at him, because we didn’t know him. That is something I regret to this day. We were stupid kids, sheep without a shepherd grazing the sidelines. It wasn’t that we were bad; we just lacked the understanding it took to know who he was.Now that I have gotten older, and a little wiser, I understand him. People may still laugh, but now it hurts me. He is a friend.
He is the first person to carry something to the car for a little old lady. He works harder than most. He thinks of you before he thinks of himself. He always had. He knows everyone he sees, and shoots them a smile and a wave. It’s something I look forward to. I just got one yesterday.
He is the pulse of the community, though he has never held a political office. He is well liked, and the town would not be as sweet if he weren’t a part of it. He sits in the wings ready to help. We could all learn something from him. He expects nothing in return for his good deeds. He reminds me how to treat people every time I see him. He has rugged exterior draped by bib-overalls, but a gentleman at heart while he holds open the door for me, for you for everyone.
I hope to be like him someday. We should all strive to. His heart is bigger than most. He allows everyone in it, though most of us don’t deserve it. He does things for people most would call enemies. He looks past our flaws.
Now when I taste popcorn, I think of him. Whenever I hold a door open for someone, I think of him. Whenever I carry something to the car, he is on my mind. He’s one of those repeated central characters in my mind. Johnny Peters continues to teach me to be a better person every day.