Martin Was Remote and Necessary

I stood at the GLEANER booth in the back of the crowded Rainier Auditorium at Washington Camp Meeting. Admittedly, I hadn't been listening, but suddenly my eyes caught sight of a slightly stooped, older gentleman on stage talking into a microphone with a voice I knew. The voice took me back 20 years. Six of us Auburn Adventist Academy student literature evangelists sat in a van, driving in and out of the urban areas of Seattle, Washington, canvassing books to earn tuition. Martin, a retired literature evangelist, drove us around each day, selling as we went and listening. He listened to our homework nightmares, listened to dramatic banquet stories, and listened as we begged to turn on the van radio (since dorms WAY back then didn't have radios).

Nearly once a month, Martin's driving began to swerve. He would grab his heart, hit the van's brakes mid-traffic or not, and say we were getting to his health... Really getting to him — our stress was finally taking him. Then Martin would hit the brakes and turn us and the van promptly into the nearest Pizza Hut parking lot, pick out a large table and order up large pizzas for all complaining canvassers. And about then, we would all burst into laughter and eat up. We ate better than we sold...

And there he was on stage. I didn't even excuse myself from the GLEANER booth, but ran out both doors like a giddy child — heels, hose and all — and screeched around the auditorium to wait for that dear, dear man.

A few months ago, I learned Martin was a volunteer. He had answered an ad to keep students working in light of our school's dying campus industries. Martin paid for our many pizzas out of his own pocket.

Our school wasn't remote and necessary — Martin was remote and necessary for our school.

July 01, 2010 / Feature