I have had the pleasure of seeing so many people come in and out of the doors over the years. From families coming in to watch the pageantry, to the everyday players doing what they most want to do.
I see people and friends gather around the bar to gamble, laugh, and drink…. It is a club of sorts. All are welcome, but it takes time to get to know the characters.
Working in racing is an honor. I have met friends, and professional acquaintances that will last a lifetime. It has been worth every second, or in racetrack time, we measure things in 20-minute intervals between races, and the length of race meets. Funny how that works, but it is just a fact of life at the oval.
Last call was brought to my attention by an older lady who sat at the end of the bar daily. Her husband has passed, and she has raised her children into strong adults. It is her time now, and on this day we shared 20 minutes in between a race, and she gave me her thoughts of life and racing. Nellie said that we must enjoy each and every race. Just like a day in life, the outcome is never known until the end. When the bugle blows, it could be likened to the rooster crowing or the alarm waking you in the morning. The starting gate bell could be our venture into work or taking our kids to school. The official sign being lit could be the end of a hard day, or a memory of life that we will remember. I began to understand, and I have found someone in my everyday travels who drinks in deeply the gift of the 20 minutes.
She then asked me if I had ever thought of the “last call?” You know, when would it be your last race to be heard, just like your last day on Earth….. I really didn’t know what to say, but tried to put together something that sounded brave or prepared. But she was having no part of that. She knew that I wasn’t, and quickly reminded me of the time I had wasted. I then spoke up and told her that I had never thought about it. I guess just like everyone else, I thought that the races would always be there. Her simple smile and the swill of a draft beer made me understand much more without saying a word.
I realized that she was right. Go out and watch the race, just like life, and enjoy the outcome no matter what. She was tuned to what most take for granted. She was aware where most were lost. Those 20 minutes passed by like a warm summer day, and just like she said, it is time to watch the race. We both walked out, and watched with the sun on our faces. Somehow it didn’t matter anymore who won, or what the outcome was. She was right, it was post time, and we never know when we will hear our last call.