By Sharon Randall
Tribune News Service.
We all have a gift. We don’t brag about it, unless it’s a gift for making people hate us. But we all do something a little better than most anyone else.
What about you? What’s your gift? What’s the thing you do that makes people smile and shake their heads in wonder?
Artists and athletes are often gifted at things the rest of us could never do. I, for instance, am pretty sure I’ll never paint like Monet or pole vault.
But most people’s gifts are much less obvious. They simply help, or encourage or just do the right thing. And whatever would we do without them?
My family is gifted in unusual ways. My mother could open an empty cupboard and make a meal from nothing to feed us.
My nephew can lie on a dock, reach down with a bare hand and snatch a fish clean out of the water. I’ve seen him do it.
My grandmother could talk and dip snuff all at once and never let it run down her chin.
My husband plays the bass like nobody’s business and makes me laugh without even trying.
Then there are my kids and grandkids and so many loved ones. Talk about gifted.
I wish you could see them.
Being surrounded by so much talent used to make me feel a little unnecessary. Then one day it dawned on me. I, too, am gifted.
I have a God-given talent for two closely related skills: Asking questions and sounding dumb.
I wish you could hear me.
In school I asked questions even if I knew the answers, because some of my classmates (never mind who) didn’t have a clue and were too shy or embarrassed to ask.
I have never been too shy or embarrassed to ask anybody anything. Or to admit I don’t know what I don’t know.
They are fine gifts for a journalist, or a mother, and useful in all sorts of ways.
This morning, when I logged on as usual to my website (www.sharonrandall.com ), I found an ominous-looking “adminstrative” message informing me I needed to take immediate action or something really bad would happen.
I had absolutely no clue about what to fix, how to fix it or what would happen if I didn’t.
So I did what I do best: Asked questions and sounded dumb. But first, I had to begin by talking to a computer. I don’t like talking to a computer. It doesn’t care how dumb you sound. It has no heart, no soul, no pity. It wouldn’t even let me ask my own questions.
Instead, it referred me to a long list of Frequently Asked Questions from other computerphobes, all equally or more clueless than I was.
Finally, before I pulled out the last of my hair, I found, yes!, a phone number. And that’s how I met my new best friend, Blake, a young man divinely blessed with the gift of being human.
“How can I help you?” he said.
I wanted to kiss him.
“Blake,” I said, “I just got a message that says I have to fix something, but I don’t know what to fix or how to do it or what will happen if I don’t.”
He laughed. “No problem. I just need your password.”
Not the password I use for the website. A different one. I’ve got passwords for all sorts of things. I never remember any of them.
“Blake?” I said. “I don’t know.”
In the next 20 minutes, I said “I don’t know” to pretty much everything he asked. But Blake, bless him, reached through the phone to hold my hand and dragged me along step by step until, hallelujah!, we fixed it.
I don’t know what we fixed, how we did it or what would have happened if we did not.
But I know this: There is no finer gift than being human. Unless it’s getting to talk to one when you really need help.
If you think you aren’t gifted, think again. There is something you alone can offer the world. Who knows who might need it?
I hope Heaven’s Hotline is staffed by a human. I’ll probably need a password to get in.