God in All Things: Coin Flips, Flat Tires and a Pizza Delivery Guy

Denny, far left and Nick with the yellow shirt in the center with others on the Campus Ministry staff.
Denny, far left and Nick with the yellow shirt in the center with others on the Campus Ministry staff.
I’ve met some cool students here in the short time I’ve been at Canisius. Two are recent grads who I wish I could hold onto just a bit longer. Nick Wiltsie is off to Columbia Law School and Denny Long will do a year of service with the Sisters of St Joseph in Rochester and they have both been such sincere and a great men during their time here and simply put, are great guys to be around.

These two decided, as young and old men are wont to do together, to go get a beer and celebrate the few days they have left together and share some memories of their college days, now behind them.

They biked on over to the establishment, had a beer, shared some memories and then thought about a second beverage. They decided to let a coin flip decide whether they would stay or go and the odds ruled in favor of leaving. Only one problem: Denny’s bike had a flat tire. They hit a service station and repaired it only to have it flatten out a second time and so begrudgingly they began the long walk back to campus.

Nick picks up the story here:

The walk wasn’t too bad, taking only about an hour. We laughed about the situation and recounted old stories in order to pass the time. Eventually, when we were almost back, having reached Delevan Ave., something strange happened. Sitting in the middle of Main Street in front of the cemetery with his foreways on and trying to ignite his engine was a middle-aged gentlemen in an SUV-esque vehicle. Cars were flying by in every direction. Although Denny and I were initially unsure if there was anything we could do to help, we eventually realized we could push the car out of the road, at least.

We greeted the gentleman who was glad to have our help. Just as we were contemplating where to move the vehicle, another car pulled up and stopped to help. A man in a La Nova (a local Buffalo pizza chain) uniform stepped out of a La Nova car and took charge of the situation. He commanded us where to go, where to push the truck, and how to stay safe. This gentleman was perfectly calm and collected with his italian accent, he could have been a character out of the Godfather. In no time the truck was pushed into the cemetery entrance and out of danger. The Italian savior asked the driver of the truck what happened, and he explained how he ran out of gas at the worst possible moment. All was well, though, because the Italian helped proclaimed “I have a gas can in my car, get in, we’ll get you some gas.”

As the man-in-need climbed into the La Nova car, the Italian savior came up to Denny and I, shook our hands, and said “Thanks for serving with me, brothers.” It was at this time that it struck me I should ask his name. “Saint” he said.

Whether Saint was joking or being sincere, he spoke the truth. Just as Pope Francis recently stated that we need more Saints in everyday clothes, this man was a Saint.

Read the whole story here.

And here’s something for my two new friends to chew on as well:

Both of YOU are also “Saints in everyday clothes.” We need to remember that we all strive to be saints which is, as Thomas Merton learned, “to simply be myself.” Better stated, to become the best version of myself, to be all that I can be. Nothing more, but more importantly, nothing less.

I’m not sure if others would have stopped that night to help push that man out of harm’s way. Think of all the cars that could have simply pushed his car with their own into that driveway with ease and they chose to ignore him. How many would have also let fear drive their instincts, thinking that perhaps the man could be dangerous or that the stopped car could be a ruse? Props for being like our Pope and connecting with people despite some security risks.

As you move into the next phase of your lives know that I have seen you already be “men for others” in just the short time I have known the two of you. You are indeed the body of Christ in the world. So now go and be Christ’s hands and feet on whatever road you choose to walk on.

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