Two years ago I sustained an injury that required back surgery to correct it. While recovering in Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto at the age of 14, after surgery, a children’s clown entertainer came along with his bag of tricks to keep patients spirits up, and provide a distraction to the situation at hand. As I was on the older end of patients, I normally wouldn’t be entertained by watching a clown, but I was tired and sore, and this was definitely a great way to pass some time. It turned out that only about five days later I would discover just how important this clown really turned out to be, and the lesson he taught I will remember forever.
The clown came in and did the usual routine, a few jokes, tricks, and put on a little act, but seeing that I was older than most, he had something special up his sleeve for me. I was astounded even in my sleepy state to see him pull out a deck of hockey cards from his bag of tricks and a roll of tape. Now fully attentive, I watched as he showed me how to make a simple wallet out of six cards and clear packaging tape. He let me choose my favourite six cards that he had, and helped me tape it up (the IV in each hand made this a little difficult for me). I was so thrilled at what had just happened I ended up remembering about some hockey cards that I brought from home to the hospital.
Before I left for Toronto, I ended up going through my collection and sorting out about 150 base and insert cards and packaging them up in groups of 10-12 cards and putting them in my suitcase. I was planning to give them to a patient in a waiting room, or donate them to give out to other children who were to come in the future. I knew this was the perfect opportunity for me to give back and I knew this was a sign. I asked for someone to get the cards from my bag and give them to the clown. He accepted them graciously and was thrilled to add to his stock so that many other kids could be making wallets with him on his rounds in the hospital.
He absolutely made my day, and I know that I also made his. I felt overjoyed at how perfectly this opportunity was presented, and I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.
The real significance and lesson truly comes full circle a few days later, on the way home from Toronto. After staying in hospital for three days, and in a hotel for a few more, I was feeling ready for the car trip home. I had been regularly making small trips around the hotel with my walker, building up my strength again little by little each day. We departed in the morning and proceeded to make our trip home.
Along the way, I knew of a card shop that I had never visited before and I was feeling strong enough to stop in for a few minutes and get moving to stretch my back and legs. Proir to the surgery, I had not been out of the house for two weeks so as not to get sick, as then the surgery would have been cancelled. I was excited to see something new and different. The shop owner was astounded to see how eager I was, even in my condition to be looking around and searching through some cards. After a little time chatting and the purchase of a Rick DiPietro pad save card from ITG (still one of my favourite cards to date) and one pack of SP Authentic, I was ready to get back in the car and continue home. I said goodbye to the owner and turned for my walker and was heading out when he called me back.
To my astonishment, he reached down to a stack of 2008-09 UD Series Two boxes (the full 24 packs), and handed me one. I was speechless. It was a genuine gesture and an extremely generous one at that. I thanked him profusely and then we continued home.
Only later in discussion did the idea hit me. It was only days prior that I had myself given away some cards as a genuine gesture of kindness, and karma was repaying me back. It was the only good reason I could think of. I had only spent $15 on the pack and card I bought, and the owner ended up giving me a box worth $40 just like that. I truly see what people mean by karma and I know that even the smallest contributions and kindness will go a long way. This really was an eye opener for me, and it stood out so clearly that I know I will never forget this collecting story. I had a great trip home from there, opening my box in the car, and being thrilled when I pulled a Shanahan jersey card. I still have that card in my collection today, and I will always have that story with me forever.
My card wallet from Sick Kids Hospital