I looked up from the antiques and collectibles I was packing at an antiques mall in Hagerstown, Maryland and spotted a bright red cap with a Georgia Bulldog "G" resting on the head of an older gentleman walking toward me.
"Are you a University of Georgia alum?" I asked.
He said he was and that he graduated in the 1950s. I introduced myself, class of 1991. I couldn't resist the chance to obtain a bit of the life story of a fellow UGA grad who like myself has long been away from the heavenly campus in Athens. My new friend told me he graduated and took a job in New Jersey, where he worked for the same company for more than three decades. He moved to South Carolina and worked another seven years or so for a company there, then wound up here in Maryland working as a partially retired roofing consultant.
The gentleman enjoys fine antiques and collectibles and asked why my company, Orion's Attic, was vacating our space in the Beaver Creek Antiques Mall. I told him we had done well there but just didn't have time to give that store the attention we've made for our other spots. He asked what I had majored in, thinking perhaps it was business. I explained I majored in journalism (Grady College) and worked in the field as my first career, hopped into public relations for my second and accidentally ended up an antiques and collectibles dealer in my 40s.
I asked him if he ever makes it back to our hallowed ground down south. He said he hasn't had the opportunity to visit the university since he took his teenage son to watch Herschel Walker run over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the early 1980s. His son was considering UGA at the time but found the big school too big for his comfort.
My red-and-black-clad friend told me his son was very good at recognizing what he wanted in life. Several years before the college decision, the young man pressed his dad to pay for flying lessons he wanted to take. The boy said he really wanted a pilot's license. His father responded by pointing out that he didn't even have a driver's license enabling him to get to the airport.
The son persisted and his dad relented. The man told me he's glad he did, especially when he flies for free on United Airlines thanks to his pilot son.
The man needed to get on with his shopping and me with my packing. I passed him again on my way out the door. I knew there was only one thing to say in the crowded antiques shop.
"Woof woof woof!" I whispered to the old man.