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My morning with Gus

I played golf yesterday morning with an 83-year-old guy named Gus before our school district’s convocation. I’d never met him before, but I caught up to him on the second hole, and he invited me to play with him.

He is an amazing person. Engineer-turned-attorney who retired at 62. He lost his wife three years ago. Plays golf four days a week. Still carries his bag.

Best morning I’ve spent in a while.

I told him I was starting my 25th school year.

His response:

“Good job being a teacher. You get to go to heaven.”

I told him I didn’t believe in heaven or God.

He said, “That’s okay. You’re a teacher. He’ll forgive you.”

As we played, he offered me some of his wisdom. I asked him if I could write some of it down on my phone, so I remember it and could share it with others later on. He agreed as long as it didn’t slow me down.

Here is what he said:

It’s good that you’re up and out this morning. Only one good thing ever happens in bed, and it almost never happens in the morning.

Teach those kids how to learn, and teach those kids to love to learn because all the nonsense you’re teaching today won’t mean a damn tomorrow. But if they know how to read and write, and mostly if they know how to learn and love to learn, they’ll rule the world.

The best teachers make kids love school. Tell your teachers to make it the first, second, and third thing they do every day. It’s the thing I cared about most as a parent.

Find the coworker who you have the least in common with or the one who bothers the hell out of you. Make that person your friend this year. They’ll be the one you can learn from the most. Unless that person is an idiot. In that case, avoid that person at all costs. Idiots are useless.

Tell parents when their kids are acting like dumbasses. Don’t sugarcoat anything.

Tell your kids to stop talking on speakerphone. These people are making me crazy. No one wants to hear your damn conversation. Use a phone like a phone.

Tell those teachers to ignore the nonsense in the news. The crazy gets the attention, but for every crazy person, there are tens of thousands of good people who don’t want you dead and think you’re doing a great job,

Teachers don’t get paid nearly enough. I don’t know how to fix that, but it’s a disaster.

Gus also offered me four excellent golf tips:

  1. Don’t spend all that time getting to the green only to rush the putt without looking at it from both sides. That’s just ridiculous.
  2. You need half a dozen clubs. You’re not a pro. Learn to his those six clubs well. To hell with with rest.
  3. Stay hydrated. I’m not kidding. People always fall apart in the last two holes because they’re dehydrated and don’t know it.
  4. If you’re playing quickly enough, don’t let anyone rush you. You own the grass you’re standing on as much as anyone else.

I shot six over par, which is damn good for me, thanks in large part to Gus, who can read greens better than anyone I’ve ever met. I also hit the ball well, mostly because Gus somehow made me feel so relaxed with every swing.

I came within four inches of an eagle on the last hole.

Gus yelled at me for taking a photo of the ball. “Just putt the damn thing.”

I’m playing golf again this morning before I head to school.

I’m very much hoping to catch up with Gus again.