November 23, 2016
Stephen Cox Blog Presented by McGunegill Engine Performance
“Do you remember me?” the strange man asked insistently. “Your show gave me something to live for. I’ve been waiting for this all year. You told me to come back, and I want you to know I made it.”
We were halfway through NBCSN’s live coverage of the Mecum collector car auction in Anaheim last Friday when a middle aged man walked up to me with tears in his eyes. “Do you remember me? Do you?” Honestly, no, I didn’t. But as he told his story it began to come back to me.
When I saw him last, the chemotherapy had left him bald. He was frail and didn’t expect to live much longer. As a lifelong car enthusiast and avid Mecum fan, he wanted to attend the 2015 show before his health failed completely.
He had walked up to the NBCSN broadcast booth where I shook his hand and listened to his story for a few brief moments during a commercial break. I set my microphone down and rejoined the broadcast a little late so I could hear him out. He loved our collector car broadcast and never missed a show.
He said that he probably wouldn’t be back. Colon cancer. Chemo. Maybe six months. But he wanted to see just one show in person and experience what it was like.
I remember thinking, “Okay, how on earth do I respond to that?” I had no idea. As my wife can affirm, I am socially clueless. So I made my best guess. I placed my hands on his shoulders, put on the widest smile I could manage and tried to sound convincing. ”You’re going to be fine,” I told him. “You’re going to come back here next year and be better than ever. And when you do, I want you to come up here and find me again and tell me your story, okay?”
The man who stood before me last weekend was barely recognizable. He had a full shock of healthy gray hair. He was 20 pounds heavier. His voice quivered with emotion but his handshake was firm. I pulled out my earphones so I could hear him better.
Talking over the noise of the auction, he leaned closer and told me what had happened since our last meeting. The chemo was horrible. He should have had a colonoscopy much sooner. They told him he wouldn’t make it. Cancer free now. He had waited a year for this day.
“I’m here,” he told me last Friday with tears in his eyes. “I want you to know I made it. You said to come back, and I did.” Commercial breaks don’t last long, but some things are more important than TV. I rejoined the broadcast late again.
I’m ashamed to say that I don’t know the man’s name. In the noise and stress of the moment I didn’t even get a photo. Socially clueless, remember? But every now and then a stranger makes your day and reminds you that life is bigger than Mustangs and Corvettes and racing.
Now it’s my turn to wait. Anaheim. 2017. And this time I’ll remember.
Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions
Driver, Boschett Timepieces/McGunegill Engine Performance #33
Co-host, Mecum Auctions on NBCSN