The other day I had a problem. To solve it I employed a highly tested and developed strategy called , “winging it” to which I had some pretty amazing results.
But backing up to the beginning of the problem. For just about every team that comes down with Solid Rock I set up a softball game during the week to play with some local kids. This normally involves a very small amount of work on my part. I make three phone calls. First to reserve the field with a guy named Bonilla. Second to my friend Gallo who plays with us and brings a bunch of equipment. Last to Samo, a little league coach that shows up with kids from his teams. The whole thing should take no more then 10 minutes. Today phase one and two go off smooth and easy, but when I attempt the third call, Samo’s phone isn’t even ringing. I try every 15 minutes for the next 2 hrs and still nothing. Now I am starting to wonder what I am going to do about this because I have no idea how to get a hold of him. I don’t have any other numbers for him, I don’t know anyone that has his number, I don’t know where he lives and I don’t even know his last name. After a whole 10 seconds of contemplation, I have a sure fire plan. I know sorta where there is a baseball field he has coached at before. I’ll drive there ask someone hanging around if they know a tall skinny mustached little league coach named Samo.
This plan may seem like a bit of a shot in the dark. Especially because I haven’t seen the guy in over a month. There is also the unfortunate reality that my Spanish has some limitations and getting directions to a place I don’t know puts a spotlight on all of them. But I remain confident.
I hop in the beautiful (very nearly not muddy) Nissan Frontier truck and weave around buses, dodge motorcycles, and traverse speed bumps until I am nearly lost back in a dense neighborhood. From there I roll down my window and ask the first solitary Domincan I see on the side of the road for some help (I always ask the guy standing alone because with a group one of them they might laugh at my Spanish and hurt my fragile ego). I ask him if there is a baseball field near here. The guy tells me I am very close and just go straight down this road and smiles big and toothy at me and wishes me well. One minute later I find it. Phase one complete, check.
Of course I was holding out hope that Samo would just be at the field, but no such luck. Instead there are some guys and a couple of kids just hanging around and talking in the shade. I take the risk of sounding crazy and ask if any of them know the tall skinny coach named Samo and where he lives. To my delight they know him! One of the guys thinks he knows where he lives and they start rattling off lefts and rights and landmarks. They are so friendly and also perceptive enough to see as my eyes begin to glaze over through their complicated directions. As soon as they see I am nervous about being able to find it, they tell one of the kids to hop in the bed off the truck and show me!!! After a few twists and a couple of turns the kid bangs on the side of the truck to indicate we have reached Samo’s house. He then waves and hops out the truck and runs back to his friends. Phase 2 complete.
Samo lives in a nice but very modest home and from the door I could see him and he saw me. He gave me the biggest grin and called my name and wanted to know where I have been because he missed me. I smiled back and told him I had been trying to reach him and he pulled his phone out of his pocket and chuckled something about the battery being dead. I invited him to game later that evening and he said he and the kids would be there. That easy.
Of course there are great and hard parts to every culture, but at this moment I am in love with this one. I’m in love with the culture where I can show up at a guy’s house unannounced and the front door is already open because all are welcome. It is a culture where people aren’t just willing to help you get there, they are willing to drop everything, hop in the back of your truck and take you there. It is a culture where all it takes is 4 letters to find you, because everybody knows your name.