I threaded my way through the hotel lobby last night. Tall, muscular young men were everywhere. They were dressed in shorts and shirts emblazoned with the logos of athletic sportswear companies. A few equally-tall older men stood around the fringes of the group. I saw one turn when he was addressed as "Coach."
Pulling my suitcase and holding my garment bag, I struggled to punch the elevator button with my elbow. I was rescued by a woman carrying a pizza box who was headed upstairs to her room.
"What floor you headed to?" she asked.
"Six," I answered.
As the door closed and the hydraulic pumps began moving the car upward, she delivered a question I hadn't heard in a long time. "Are you part of the team?"
"Oh, I'm sorry. I guess you're not," she started. "I just thought you looked like you were here with the national basketball team from France."
I pulled myself up to my full five-foot-five-inches. I've always prided myself on having that athletic look.
As she got off on the fourth floor, I was still smiling and working hard to maintain good stature. That athletic look. Then I happened to think — maybe she thought I looked like a Frenchman. When I got to the room, I spent a little while in front of the mirror. In the absence of a beret, I just didn't see the French connection.
Had to be the athletic look. Or just the assumption that everyone in the hotel was with the team.
But then it happened again today. I dropped into a local phone store to pick up a travel charger for my business-owned phone. The young lady behind the counter asked me for the phone number. Noticing the account name was a university, she asked, "Division I?"
"No, Division II."
"What are you doing in Dallas — recruiting?"
I fielded the question with what I thought was a clever response. "I'm always recruiting for the university."
"What's your sport?" she asked. She moved slightly from behind her cash register to look me over again.
"I'm thinking either tennis or track — although I guess you could be a basketball coach."
I was hoping for power-lifting or defensive line coach, but I felt pretty good about her conjectures.
"What makes you think I'm an athletic recruiter?"
"I don't know. There's just something about you."
Her interest waned a bit when I told her what I really do for a living. She took my money and I wandered out of the store wondering just what it was that she saw.
I have to say that I was feeling pretty good about myself. Two different people on two different days saw me as something I wasn't, but would like to be. Makes me wonder if I need to change my look. After all, wouldn't it be more of a thrill for people to see me for what I really am and for that to be so remarkable that they want to ask me about it?
If I truly lived as God's man, I think they would know whose team I'm on and who I recruit for. That's the look.