Half an hour before the baseball game: I've just left my car and started the trek across the high school parking lot toward the stadium. Two middle-aged gentlemen are sitting on camp chairs by their vehicles, chatting and enjoying the afternoon breeze. I spy uniforms hanging from a rack inside one van, and a thought occurs.
"Are you the umpires?" I ask.
They hesitate. "Yes," one grudgingly admits.
"You really do great work," I say. "I come here to watch the games, and I always admire you guys. Thank you!"
They're amazed. Umpires never get compliments, only criticism. "You're welcome," the other ump replies.
I start to walk away, and then a thought occurs. "Of course," I turn back to admit, "I could be trying to make you feel good about the home team. But it won't work, will it?"
All of us chuckle, and I proceed onward to the ballpark. The game is a good one, as baseball always is. Afterwards I'm on my way back to the car. The men in blue are there ahead of me, changing into their civilian clothes. One of them recognizes me.
"So how many calls did I miss?" he asks, with a grin.
"You were perfect—every one was right," I respond.
"I doubt that!" he says. Again we all laugh.
(conversation from 2005-06-25 in the Blair High School parking lot, with umpires Bill Morris and Danny Meyer; cf. TboltMonkeysOnMyBack (2002-07-09), ...)