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Friday, March 7, 2014

Of Birds, Bread and Little B

by Steven P. Velasquez
March 3, 2014

This past weekend, my daughter's mother gave us a complimentary pair of tickets to a NJ Devil's hockey game. I'm sure I don't need to embarrass myself by offering gruesome details of financially difficult times, we all have them, some worse than others.

Anyhow, for a family that tries to make small things count, since small things are often all they've got, Little B and I tried to make the best of it - on a budget. So, instead of the overpriced foods of the arena, we were going to pack stuff from home and have us a Newark-style picnic. We prepared cold cut sandwiches on Portuguese rolls, wrapped them in foil and headed to the Pru (the Prudential Center Arena). She was bouncing with enthusiasm as she has blossomed into a devout Devil's fan, and she was spending quality time with her favorite father.

When we arrived in Newark and found parking. We walked to the Pru at a rapid pace (it was really cold and my head was chock full of flashbacks from working EMS in those very streets).

Once we arrived, it dawned upon me that we were probably not going to make it inside with home-prepared food on our person. Some cop-wanna-be, homeland security zealot would certainly mistake the foil-wrapped sandwich in my pocket for a hand grenade instead of a ham & cheese with mayo. So, we had to implement Plan-B (no pun intended).

We stood across the street and had a sidewalk picnic. We joked and ate and watched our exhaled breath dissipate before us into another family memory. I've discovered in life these precious memories serve as their own currency and don't require large capital investment.

Little B suddenly began crying and buried her face in my chest. "What the hell just happened?" I wondered. I tilted her head upward, reassured her and asked what was wrong. She, gasping for her breath, exclaimed; "I don't like the bread." She felt guilty because she thought I'd be upset at her for wasting food. "She's conscious of this even at the tender age of seven?" I questioned.

I reassured her that it was perfectly okay to eat the meat and spare the bread. And then I showed her how we can make use of her perceived waste. I explained how birds are in perpetual states of hunting for food and that we could break the bread up, toss some on the ground, and surely some would appear.

"But I don't see any birds Daddy." It's okay, Breezy (my pet name for her), believe me, they see us. We scattered a small amount and 1 or 2 began circling overhead. I explained to her how they were communicating with others and more would surely arrive. Within moments, we were surrounded by seagulls, cawing and squawking. She lit up with excitement as she enthusiastically tore and tossed more bread.

I explained that this was a lesson in leadership for when she gets older. Quizzically, she asked how so? "Behold" I said, "if you throw the bread fast and hard (like a manager with a new idea) they'll startle and scatter out of fear. If you promote your message gently and slowly, you'll build curiosity among a few - which later will attract a larger organization." She may not have perfectly grasped the vocabulary, but she indicated she understood the principle.

She tore and tossed, and tore and tossed until she had run out - and the gulls flew away.

Lil' B feeding the gulls at the Pru - March 2014

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