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Posts Tagged ‘soccer’

I sat at Illy Café at the corner of New Hampshire Avenue and M Street sipping a double espresso.  To my right sat a girl who seemed to also be writing in a journal of sorts.  The last time I saw someone writing in a journal we got to meet Roey…maybe this would turn into a recipient 273.

I asked her to accept my $10.  She did and asked to take a few minutes to talk to her for the blog post.  Coincidentally she was waiting for someone that she was going to interview!

I am usually pretty good a detecting accents and determining where people are from, but I had no idea about Elina.  First let me say that she speaks incredible English.  Occasionally I would hear a slight accent that would make me think Eastern European.  But just when I would think that was it, I would detect an ever so slight southern twang!  I give up!

Elina hails from Regensburg, Germany. (photo: Reed)

So it turns out that she was born in Russia but grew up in the small town of Minden, Germany which is about 25 miles west of Hanover.  Her flawless English is probably partly due to her time in the US as an au pair and a year that she spent studying in Virginia on a scholarship.  “It completely changed my life.”  These days she lives in Regensburg, Germany.  “People kind of know who I am there because I was voted “party queen of Regensburg” on StudiVZ, a German social networking site similar to Facebook.

So I discover that she is in DC for about two months doing research for her undergrad thesis paper that studies society’s perception of soccer in Washington, DC.  “So I am actually interviewing people for my research,” she explained.  “I’m actually waiting for the President of a fan group for DC United.” 

The $10 will come in handy Elina tells me.  “I’ve been refusing to add more minutes to my American cell phone since I’m leaving next week.  I’m down to just $5 now and this will hopefully get me through these final days.”  She actually says that unlike most other 23-year-olds she hates having a cell phone.  “I didn’t have one until I started my studies.”

Just then a guy approached our table and she asked, “Are you Paul?”  Her interview subject had arrived.

Elina used the $10 to add minutes to her cell phone. (photo: Reed)

Paul is one of the leaders of the Screaming Eagles, a 1,100 member fan community for DC’s professional soccer club.  All three of us chatted for a while about random topics.  I didn’t want to impose on the time Elina had set up to meet with Paul so I said goodbye to both of them and excused myself.

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Piola, 1550 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA (Photo: Reed)

I met Ryan and Mandy, my brother and sister-in-law, to watch the Brazil – Chile match at a restaurant called Piola in Arlington.  Despite it’s origins in Treviso, Italy, I always think about Piola as a Brazilian Pizzeria.  When I lived in Brazil there were several Piolas.  I used to go to one in Jardins neighborhood quite often.  Brazil has great pizza and although Piola is good, it’s not the best there.  For me the best pizzerias in Sao Paulo are Speranza, 1900 and Braz

Anyway, for the options we have here in the DC area, Piola makes a good pie.  When they opened up a few years ago in Arlington, I noticed a lot of Brazilians working and dining there.  So, that is how we ended up watching the Brazil game there.

A pizza maker prepares the dough before placing it in the wood-fired oven (Photo: Reed)

There were not that many people at the restaurant watching the game.  Granted it was being played at 2:30pm on a Monday, so perhaps people were at work.  Of the handful of fans there cheering on the game, most were clad in Brazilian shirts like myself.  When the satellite connection failed for nearly a half hour due to a thunder-storm, the table next to us pulled out their laptops, connected to a WiFi network and continued watching the game.  I migrated over to their table to watch the game and discovered that three of the four of them were from Brazil.  I decided to give them my $10 for the day!

Daniela, Reed, Antonella, Amina and Steve at Piola (Photo: Ryan Sandridge)

The game ended with Brazil eliminating Chile’s participation in the World Cup by a score of 3-0.  Although everyone in the bar was celebrating, part of me felt a little sad for Cecilia from Day 151.  As the game came to a close and people started to rush back to work, I tried to quickly take some notes about my new friends.  Unfortunately Steve had to leave immediately and the others only had a few minutes before they too had to leave too, so I had to work fast.

When the satellite connection failed for 30 minutes, Piola's manager sent everyone in the bar a caipirinha on the house! (Photo: Reed)

I asked them what they thought of Washington.  “I love DC,” says Daniela, “Rio is not as safe as Washington.  This is a very safe, cultured, cosmopolitan city.”  Antonella agrees and adds that “Sao Paulo’s traffic is crazy!”  She’s right about that.  I don’t miss the traffic in Sao Paulo at all.  As I was furiously writing down notes in my Moleskine notebook, I heard somebody else say, “We’re in the most important place in the US.”  It’s positive to hear them say such nice things about DC.  I loved my three years in their country too! 

The conversation shifts to what they plan to do with the $10.  I was very impressed by how they approached this opportunity.  After a good five or ten minutes of back and forth discussion amongst themselves in Portuguese they told me that they had decided.  “We’re going to pick a random address in the phone book and send the $10 to them with a note explaining about your project.”  That was pretty cool.  Nobody has done that before!  “And if they don’t want to keep it we’re going to tell them to give it to somebody else.”  “Parabens” to them for a creative and thoughtful idea.

It’s only fitting that I post this blog entry today as the world watches the final chapter of the 2010 World Cup.  Brazil didn’t make it unfortunately.  Will it be Spain?  Or will it be The Netherlands.  Whoever wins, history will be made as neither team has ever won the World Cup.  I have to root for Spain having lived there and developed a strong friendship with many Spaniards.  I can’t forget Carlos from Day 118 who hails from Spain or the Dutch recipients of the Year of Giving: Pieter from Day 140 and Karel and Maria from Day 200 – look out for their blog posting this week! 

Note: I am sitting here at home watching the game as I write up this blog entry.  It’s 0-0 in the first over-time period.  Viva España! 

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I am still pouring through your emails and comments.  So many amazing stories of people who have been motivated to start their own giving projects.  I have heard from people in Saudi Arabia and Brazil who want to start giving $10 a day in their country.  I have received numerous offers to help recipients on the Lend a Hand page.  Others have told me how they are helping their churches, local schools, community centers, random strangers, neighbors, etc.  Numerous people have offered to help me directly.

I firmly believe that people are inherently good.  When we hear about someone else spreading kindness it triggers something that awakens passive thoughts of kindness that we carry inside us. 

I continue to answer your emails and comments one by one…please be patient if I have not responded to you yet.

My notebook (Photo: Reed)

Today my story is about Patrick, but before I get to him I want to share something that happened to me today.  I keep all my notes in a small black notebook which happened to fall out of my book-bag today as I took some photos in front of a Barns & Noble.  I went to dinner with my brother, his wife, and a cousin of mine and then walked home.  On the way home I stopped in to see Larry from Day 90 at Starbucks to tell him that so many people have voted for him to go to Clyde’s with me (see this post).  It was then I realized that I didn’t have my notebook. 

I took a cab back to the restaurant but they didn’t have it.  I started to walk home and decided to look around the Barnes & Noble.  There is so much foot traffic there though that I was sure it wouldn’t be there.  For some reason I decided to go in and ask if someone had turned a notebook in.

Would you believe that two women had turned it in!  YES!  THANK YOU!  They gave it to a Security Guard named George who gave it to Sultan who was working behind the check-out area.  I tried to give George $10 but he would not accept my money.  I have agreed to try to go back and find him one day and maybe buy him a coffee or something.  I did get the name of the company he works for and will write them a letter telling them of his good deed.  I will also write a letter to the Barnes & Noble to tell them about both George and Sultan. 

Phew….I thought I lost my book.  Ok, back to day 97.

On Sunday night I thought I would look around for someone to give my $10 to at the McDonald’s at the Woodley Park Metro station.  There was nobody in the fast food restaurant so I walked around to the Connecticut Ave. side and found Patrick kicking a soccer ball on the sidewalk into some plastic crates against the wall of a bank.  It was around 11pm so I figured this guy’s gotta have a story to be out here at almost midnight practicing soccer by himself.

Patrick A. (Photo: Reed)

I spent some time just watching him juggle the ball with his feet and knees as well as taking shots on “goal.”  Then I chatted with him some.

The 23-year-old DC native says that he comes out there and practices against the wall of the local bank several nights a week.  A lot of people know him as “crazy soccer guy.”  

Patrick is unique.  He has never owned a cell phone and swears that he will never get one.  He is writing his own Philosophy book.  He enjoys theatre.  He designs his own jeans…the list goes on.

Rather than me talk about him…check him out for yourself.  He’s a trip…I’m warning you.  He uses my $10 for something nobody else has done so far. 

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