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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mario Andretti... Is He?

by Kathleen Blease

or The Racer Slows Down, For Just a Second

Last night, my husband and I took a well-deserved break and went out on a date.  Imagine, a date! We went to a restaurant tucked away just outside the little town of Nazareth, and was served the most delectable dinners of roast duck and filet minon topped with lumped crab meat. Mmmm. Unbelievable. The memory of the aromas and flavors can easily tempt me to get off track here, so let me jump right into the story.

Sitting at the corner table was a man and his wife.

Roger lowered his voice and informed me, "That's Mario Andretti."

I looked over my shoulder, trying to be casual. (Yeah, right. What else was in the corner to look at?) From a distance, the man strongly resembled the real-life papa Andretti. For you fans of the speed racer, you will recognize that Nazareth is where the Andrettis have made their home. Still, I wasn't convinced.

I looked again. (Good, Kath, real smooth.) "No, Honey. I'm tellin' ya, that's not him."

But it sure did look like him, and I almost changed my mind when the man got up, put on a very expensive leather jacket and politely walked out.

My husband asked me, "What kinda car do you think he's driving?"

"I'll bet a truck or a Wrangler."

From our window table, we could see him drive off in a gorgeous white king-cab.

Our waiter came by with my glass of wine, and Rog said, "That's Mario, huh?"

"Who? Andretti? Oh, no. That's not him. He comes in, and he was here last week." Then he informed us where he usually sits. (Nope, I ain't sayin'.)

Later during the night, I couldn't sleep. With a full stomach and tucked under warm covers, I let my mind race. (No pun intended.) Ideas were flying about. Random thoughts were criss-crossing. Then finally two smacked into each other.

Mario on thank you cards. Mario on thank you cards. Mario Andretti...thank you. Mario said thank you.

Yes! That was it! In the morning, I went downstairs to the drawer where I keep special items and keepsakes. There it was.

Four years ago, Roger won a balloon ride in a silent auction. It took weeks to make the arrangements and find perfect weather, and when he finally floated above the valley, his camera went with him. Surprisingly, he and the pilot flew over Mario Andretti's home. Rog snapped a beautiful shot. He then had it printed--not out of a home photo printer, but the real thing--and sent the picture to its rightful owner.

Soon after, and to our surprise and delight, Mr. Andretti responded with a thank you.

From the man himself.

And now I get to my point.

The next time someone balks about writing a thank you card, consider this: If the master of the race track can slow down for just a second to be gracious and show his appreciation, then surely so can you...and me...and all of us. 

God bless!

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