The Bandwagon Starts Here

I went to the lumber yard a few days ago, and brought my purchases to the check-out counter. It took a few pallets to carry it all. The clerk looked at them, and me, curiously.

“That’s a lot of lumber,” he said.

“Yeah,” I agreed.

“Like, a whole section of forest’s worth.”

“I need it,” I assured him.

“For what?”

“I’m building a bandwagon.”

He got excited for a second, searching around for a pen so he could get an autograph. “Are you in a band?” he wanted to know.

“No, it’s for a sports team. You know, sports. ‘Jump on the bandwagon.’ Like that.”

He seemed sincerely disappointed, then brightened up. “Are you building one for the Lakers?” He chuckled smugly. “’Cause I’m pretty sure we’ve already got one. I’m a Laker fan. I go all the way back to when Shaq was here. They sucked for a couple years before that, but then they were the best again.”

“So that’s when you jumped on the bandwagon.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Bet it was pretty crowded. Lots of Laker fans, all over the world. Some of ‘em even go as far back as…” I lowered my voice to a whisper. “…Magic Johnson.”

He laughed. “Yeah. A team starts winning here, pretty much everyone jumps on board.”

“That’s true almost everywhere,” I said, nodding.

“So, who’s your bandwagon going to be for?” he wondered, gesturing to my huge collection of two-by-fours and whatnot.

“The Phoenix Suns.”

“The Phoenix Suns?!” he sneered in disbelief. “Don’t we – the Lakers – have a guy who used to play for them?”

“Yep. Steve Nash.” Also Wes Johnson, but who’s counting?

The clerk shook his head, disgusted. “Nash gets hurt a lot.”

“Hmm,” I replied, as though thinking about it. “He didn’t when he was in Phoenix. In any case, if he can put some healthy time together, you’ll love him. He’s one of the best.”

“So who do the Suns have now? Didn’t they get rid of all their players after last year?” “Not all of them, but they did make some changes. They picked up Eric Bledsoe, Miles Plumlee, Archie Goodwin and Alex Len.”

He frowned, skeptical. “I’ve barely heard of some of those guys.”

I shrugged, allowing that was probably true. “They’re young. All 25 and under. One of ‘em just turned 19. But they all have amazing potential.”

“Guys you build with.”

“Definitely.”

“They’re going to get smoked this year,” he said, laughing again.

“Might happen a few times,” I replied, shrugging again. “But like I said, they’re young and exciting, they’re fast, and they could surprise a couple teams. You’ve heard about next year’s draft?”

“Yeah, it’s supposed to be awesome,” he said, eyes widening. “Best one in years.”

“The Suns could have as many as four first-round picks. Plus they have a ton of room under the salary cap for signing free agents.”

“Wow!” He seemed genuinely impressed. “The Suns could be really good, scary good, not too long after almost everyone totally wrote them off!”

I turned to the lumber I was intending to buy. The clerk leaned over the counter and looked with me. “So that’s why you’re building a bandwagon!”

“Now you’re getting it,” I replied. “The best time to get on a team’s bandwagon is before it gets really good. Then you can say you’ve been with them all along, through the ups and the downs.”

“Huh. I guess I got on the bandwagon for the Lakers when it was already pretty crowded.”

“That’s okay,” I assured him. “A fan is a fan, and every team needs every fan it can get. I just think it’s more satisfying to be able to say you were there at the very beginning.”

“I could see that, yeah,” he nodded. “So will that be cash or charge?”

I paid him, and he wished me, and the Suns, luck this season. As I was headed out the door, the customer behind me stepped up to the register with his own load of lumber, albeit much smaller than mine.

“What is it with lumber today?” I heard the clerk ask.

“I’m building a trailer for the Clippers bandwagon,” the customer answered. “I tried to hop on, but they say it’s been overflowing since the summer started.”

I smiled as I opened the back of the truck I’d rented and started loading in the lumber. I pictured the Suns’ bandwagon that was going to be built. It would start rolling slowly, maybe, but it would pick up steam and possibly go faster than anyone would be expecting.

Good seats still available.