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Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Journey to France

Another of one of those basketball stories.

When I started coaching basketball, I was chosen (and that time I was not even in the country for 6 weeks) to be on the board of the basketball federation. It was a fun experience. I was in charge of a program whose main purpose was to promote basketball to the youth.

The fun part was that I had access to a Mercedes and a driver who would drive me around to basketball camps within the city. Overall, more than 1000 kids were involved in the camps and we did it for two straight years.

Then, a friend of mine called me to ask me if I would do a presentation to a group of people who came from France. They wanted to know about what we were doing with those basketball camps. I was glad to do the presentation and enjoyed the free food that was provided ( I am always open to opportunities).
For some reason, the French people were impressed (my presentation skills maybe....). They told me that they would invite me to France so that I could share my stories (maybe they knew one day I would be writing this blog.... Just a thought).

Did I believe them? Not really. I didn't even think about it. However, six months later, I receive a call asking me to bring my passport to the French embassy to apply for a visa. What do you mean? I asked my friend. What for? A lot of questions went through my mind. Yes, my French connection worked!!!! I had no passport at that time, though. What a loser!!!

I managed to get a passport within 24 hours (I talked to my people who talked to their people, if you know what I mean). Oh, I forgot to mention that the trip was scheduled in 6 days. I had to travel with another guy that I knew. He could not believe that we could make it. And to make it worse, the guy who was supposed to pay for our flight tickets was not in the country. And to top it all off: the Embassy denied our visa request. Four days to go. No visa, no ticket, no hope. Not for me though. I spent years of my life watching Michael Jordan taking those last second shots and making them. I could be like Mike.

Two days to go. We finally got the visa (my people called their people. You already know the story. Don't you?). But no ticket. The guy who was supposed to travel with me, decided not to go because, according to him, there was no way we could get the money for the tickets within 24 hours (he did not watch Michael Jordan, I presume).

I had 24 hours to find a way. This time, my people could call nobody. The first thing I did was to call my friends in France. I wanted to know, if I were able to find someone to buy the ticket for me, if they would be willing to reimburse this person.. They said yes. Who could give me $1200 (1.2 million in the local currency) in less than a day?

As I was sharing my story with my coworkers at the radio station, one of them just stated: “Why won't you ask “President” (that was how we called our boss)”? I had nothing to lose. So I did. Guess what? He paid for the ticket (our boss was one heck of a person). Next morning, I flew to France where I spent 7 days.

Moral of the story? When it comes down to the wire, and you need a big play, just be like Mike: Take the shot!

Always a pleasure
The Journeyman.

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