Episode 163- The Night The Lights Went Out In San Francisco

I want to give you a fun little story this morning that has no lessons, another edition of empty calories. I haven’t done one of these in a while and for some reason lately I’ve been doing a bunch of sports analogies or stories. I don’t know why. I haven’t even been watching sports, but we’re going to do it anyway because it’s a great story. It’s about eight years ago, we had just moved to Pittsburgh probably a year earlier, and back then I really was into sports a ton being a huge Steelers fan and I was trying to get my kids to be Steelers fans too, so we’d watch the games and Andrew was the oldest at that point. He was six. So because I watched it, he watched it and I talked to him about it, but he didn’t really understand what was going on, at least the details of it.

But for some reason he took a liking to San Francisco and the San Francisco 49ers and their helmets, I’m not sure what it was, but he really liked them. So the football schedule came out for that year and the Steelers were scheduled to play in San Francisco that year on Monday Night Football. So I brought it up cautiously to Elizabeth. That was like, what do you think about the idea of me taking Andrew to San Francisco for the Steelers- 49ers game? Oh, by the way, it’ll be Monday night football, so it’ll be a late night and a long trip. And she wasn’t particularly thrilled with the idea at all, but I pushed and pressed and I, I got my way. So I bought the game tickets and I bought the plane tickets and I booked the hotel and the rent a car. And all of a sudden on a snowy December morning, Elizabeth was sitting there in tears as me and Andrew are about to go on.

Our first one on one trip. And Nolan was about three and Dylan was just a little baby. And I remember Elizabeth holding him in her arms and she’s crying and I’m like, we’re going to be fine. And we head to the airport and I still remember Andrew’s face as we lifted off and his eyes widening by the feeling of going into the air. And the trip was just fantastic. He remembers going to Denny’s and getting the chocolate chip pancakes. I mean he still remembers a ton of details from that trip. We got to go into San Francisco and Ghirardelli Square, we ran down Lombard street, got on the trolley. We got to do all that stuff before the game. And then we headed over to Candlestick Park that night because it was in the final year or maybe the second to last year of Candlestick Park in San Francisco. And it was such a fun, exciting night. 

And I smile just thinking about it, but Candlestick Park, to be honest with you, if you’re a sports fan, it was an absolute dump and I’d watched so many games on television. I was like disappointed by how rundown it was, but it was such an experience to be there. And we walked through the parking lot and Andrew had his terrible towel and the 49er fans were, you know, giving us a hard time. And then all of a sudden Andrew sees that somebody is selling something and they’ve got this pastry, this treat. It’s like a long stick and he’s looking at it and he says, what is that? And I said, Oh, that’s a churro. So I explained to him what a churro is and he’s fascinated by it. So he’s like, can I have one? I said, how about we get that at halftime? Let’s get something real to eat first and we’ll get that after halftime.

So he agrees and the players on the field and they’re getting ready to start the game and then all of a sudden, boom, the power goes out. I mean the entire stadium, the power just went out. No lights anywhere. Except we were fortunate we were underneath the press box. So eventually the auxiliary lights came on, but it was crazy being in a stadium with like 60,000 people and all the lights are out and nobody knows what to do. You hear the murmur and you’re looking on the field and the players are walking around in shadows just confused. They don’t know where to go. So of course we’re in San Francisco and you think, Oh was there an earthquake? And we’re at Candlestick Park where historically there was an earthquake during the World Series between the Giants and the A’s years back.

So I think people start to get little bit nervous and my phone starts blowing up. My wife, my brother, my friends, they’re watching on TV and they tell me a transformer blew and that’s why the power went out because we had no idea. And what I remember is the big 49ers helmet that was blown up. I remember just deflating to the ground and being like this isn’t really a good situation. But eventually it didn’t take that long. But the power came back on. They started the game up, everything went fine. Andrew’s asking me when is it half time I want to get a churro and I’m like, I’ll get you one. But you’ll know when it’s half time. The players will stop playing, they’ll go off the field. I said, you’ll know. So a minute or two into the second quarter, the Steelers had the ball.

We’re watching the game and then boom, power goes out again. All the lights are off once again and everybody just starts groaning. Nobody’s scared this time. They’re almost just more annoyed. And I look at Andrew and he’s got a big smile on his face and I was like, what? And he says, “Is it half time? Can I have a churro?” I said, no, it’s still not halftime. That’s the power went out again. I’m try to explain it to them. I’m going. Eventually the power came back on and the game never got any better for the Steelers. The 49ers absolutely demolish them. I think it was 20-3 and it was a couple of minutes into the fourth quarter and I knew we had to drive back to the hotel and it was late. So I did what I was hating other people doing. I was like, do you want to leave early?

We’ll get outta here. Because the parking lot’s terrible. There’s one road out. He didn’t want to leave. Finally, I convinced him, let’s just get out a little bit early. I’m so glad we did. We walked across the long parking lot. There’s only really one or two ways to get out of that stadium and we beat a couple of hours of traffic leaving there as we’re leaving Candlestick and we’re heading back to our hotel he said, the words to me that I totally didn’t want to hear, which were dad. I said, yeah, Andrew, “I think I want to be a 49ers fan”. And I said, no, that wasn’t the point of this trip. I didn’t come out here so you could become a 49ers fan~ I wanted you to become a Steelers fan. He said, no, I really liked their team and I liked the colors. I’m going to be 49ers fan and as parents, we want our kids to be their own individuals.

So I took a deep breath and I was like, all right, do what you gotta do. And he became a 49ers fan. So a couple of weeks later for Christmas, he got a 49ers helmet and a little jersey and wouldn’t you know it, they go on to make it to the Super Bowl that year and he watches every game and he’s every single week they’re getting better and better. I’m like, I’m losing him. He’s always going to be a 49ers fan they lost the Ravens in the Super Bowl. They made it back to the NFC championship in the following year and that solidified it. So for years he was a 49ers fan and never converted and turned around to being a Steelers fan even to this day. So that’s my story about the night the lights went out in San Francisco and to the parents out there, be careful for what you wish for because it might go the exact opposite of what you expected to do. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

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