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  • Writer's pictureShane

My encounters with THE Mailman. (Karl Malone)

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

It was a snowy night in Salt Lake City. I was at the mature age of 13 and we, my recreation "Jr. Jazz" basketball team, were being treated to night at a Utah Jazz game. Early in our season, because of a last minute "can't do it," a county rec. head honcho agreed to be our coach that year. As a result, we got a lot of perks that a lot of other teams didn't get. Hence, the Jazz game. When the game was over we soon learned that the bus that had brought us had decided to make the parking lot it's final resting place. We were there for hours waiting to be rescued. Our restless goofing off was interrupted by a door opening, and someone quickly observing, "It's Karl Malone". He was immediately surrounded by all that were there, eagerly asking for autographs. He graciously obliged. I on the other hand, had no desire to acquire Karl’s autograph. Sure, I loved basketball and cheered for the players like all of the other kids, but I just didn't see Karl Malone as anyone extraordinary. He was just a guy that was good at basketball. While everyone else was clamoring, I decided to continue to goof off. I touched Karl's arm and then sarcastically yelled, " I'll never wash my finger again". I was quickly grabbed by the arm, by a large man, whom I assume was a bodyguard, and he strongly cautioned, "Hey! Show some respect." I thought about that a lot after that happened. Does Karl Malone deserve my respect? I eventually concluded that of course he does, but not because he is a good ball player but because he is a human being. Certainly, he deserved my respect that day, but did he deserve my adoration? By the time I was 17, I was working in downtown Salt Lake City at the Triad Center Parking Lot. The Triad is a large business complex that happens to be right next to The Delta Center, where the Utah Jazz play. I worked the main booth every day after school for a few hours. I also worked the events, where Triad parking lots were opened to the crowds of people attending the basketball or hockey games at the Delta Center next door. A local television station is headquartered at The Triad Center, so it was not uncommon for me to see many of the nightly news personalities pass by. One evening we were wrapping things up after an event. All attendants would meet at one booth to hand in money packets and so forth before going home. A car approached the exit and I noticed that the driver was none other than the talented weatherman Mark Eubanks. On a whim I said to some of my buddies, "Hey, let's get his autograph." It was just for kicks, for the fun of asking a weatherman for his autograph. He graciously obliged. A few weeks later were wrapping up after a Hockey game. Again, we were assembled at the booth taking care of the final tasks when a car pulled up. I approached and as the window rolled down I noticed a familiar face. It was Karl Malone, and his wife. He announced that they were headed over to eat at a restaurant that was located there at the Triad. I said, "I know who you are", turned to my friends and said, "Hey guys, it's Karl Malone." They all quickly rushed to his window asking for his autograph. He graciously obliged. I stepped to the back of the crowd and looked on. A fellow employee noticed I was not in "line" and asked, "Aren't you going to get his autograph?" "No," I announced. "His autograph doesn't mean anything to me." Karl heard what I said. He paused briefly, glanced up at me then went back to signing. Then someone else piped in, "But Shane, you got Mark Eubanks autograph." At this point Karl stopped signing, looked right at me and said, "Mark Eubanks?!, Who the hell is Mark Eubanks?!" His wife began laughing. I just shrugged and said, "A weatherman". "A weatherman?!" he shrilled. Everyone chuckled. He smiled and shook his head. He finished the task and was on his way. Twice I have encountered Karl Malone. Twice I passed on the opportunity to get his autograph. But both times he graciously accepted the requests of others. And that tells me that he has done so many, many times. So perhaps he deserves my adoration, after all. So, what can we learn from this story? I don't know; maybe that we should take a closer look at who we admire and look to as heroes. Perhaps we should learn that no matter who we are, or who others are, we can be gracious. Or maybe we can take these final words into our hearts; a message that was scribbled on the back of a parking stub by a weatherman when I asked him for his autograph. "Remember, there is no such thing as bad weather, just different kinds of good weather."

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