South Portland, Maine — The 2018 Super Bowl on Feb. 4 was a big event in New England as Tom Brady and the Patriots had an opportunity to win their sixth Super Bowl. Alas for Patriot and Brady fans, they weren't able to seize that opportunity.
Because of the many Super Bowl parties planned, I decided to Uber that evening and take advantage of the extra demand that would be present for Uber rides. After completing 15 rides and listening to the game on radio, I signed off at 11:51 p.m. and stopped at an Irving gas station with the lowest price in the area to fill my tank.
Unlike Guam, where gas stations collude to keep their prices the same, market forces are alive and well in Maine, and many times you can save 5 to 10 cents per gallon by shopping different stations.
As I was putting the nozzle back on the pump, I noticed a lady walking toward me. "Excuse me sir, I'm from Massachusetts, my two kids are in my car over there, and I'm $9 short of getting a hotel room. Do you have $9 you could help me with?"
In my mind, I immediately thought back to the family in Guam who had been "sign flying" (the term for a pan handler's cardboard sign and request for help) across from Oka Payless. I had believed their story but, after making several donations, learned their story was fake.
This fake story made it easy for me to push the possibility of this lady's genuine situation at the Irving aside. Pulling a $5 bill out of my wallet, I said, “This is all I have," then quickly exiting the station, not even comprehending the opportunity I just missed.
It took me several days to realize this opportunity I had lost on Feb. 4. As I was reading a devotional based on the text in Matt. 25:40 "If you've done it unto the least of these, you've done it unto me," it hit me how I had lost this opportunity. I prayed that I wouId have another opportunity like the one lost.
History demonstrates that individuals aren't the only ones who miss opportunities and then regain them. Governments and organizations also have opportunities that are lost and then seized. In WWII days of the late 1930s and early 1940s, Great Britain lost some early opportunities, but under the leadership of Churchill, they came back and seized the day.
In November, the citizens of Guam elected a new executive team. An opportunity is now there for new leadership to address the challenges facing the government of Guam and take government services to a higher level. A new team now has the opportunity to deal with the issues of taxes, safety, debt, and Guam Memorial Hospital more effectively.
The new executive team, along with Guam's new non-voting delegate to the U.S. Congress, can seize the current opportunity (previously lost in 2016 when a previous
request to Medicare was denied) to get the obscenely low reimbursement rate for Medicare services at GMH improved to a level that fairly pays GMH for its costs.
Successfully seizing this opportunity will save Guam citizens more than $10 million annually in subsidies currently being paid to GMH that fund this Medicare under reimbursement of current hospital costs.
My prayer was answered on Memorial Day weekend while Ubering, when I stopped at the Irving station on Commercial Street across from Becky's Diner.
While I was filling my tank, a man with large mustache approached me. "My name is Jay and I was wondering if you could spare $3 to help me get something to eat." Without even thinking I said, "Sorry I don't have $3." This was technically true as in my wallet I only had a $5 and a $10 bill.
Jay turned around and was walking away when I got hold of my senses. "Hey buddy,” I blurted out. Come back here! I pulled out the $10 from my wallet and handed it to him. "With this you can get the lunch portion Haddock with two sides over there at Becky's.” With a surprised look, he said "Thank you, sir" and walked away.
Whether he really needed that for food is irrelevant. Opportunity was regained.
On Guam with new leadership in Adelup, and with a new Guam delegate in Washington, the opportunity is there to regain previous opportunities lost.
Now if we can just get Super Bowl win No. 6 for Brady and the boys this year…
Theodore Lewis, former CEO of the Guam Memorial Hospital, is now based on Maine, where he is exploring Uber adventures and collecting stories about life. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org