In 1972 I graduated from East High School in SLC by the skin of my teeth… primarily because faculty members did not want me to return.
Those were fun times. My generation caught the very tail end of the Height Ashbury - Woodstock- hippie era. I had attended some great concerts during those years including Santana, Doobie Brothers, Beach Boys, Iron Butterfly, Led Zeplin Chambers Brothers, Leon Russell, etc.
My dune buggy with a peace sign on the back of it died as a result of some of the athletic events I put it though so I talked my dad into helping acquire a hopped up AMX, against his better judgment.
I had a lead foot. I would frequent State Street on weekend evenings and drag race with any and all contenders. My best friend at the time had a black Super Sport with a white racing stripe down the middle.
His father owned a car lot and was always bringing home hot cars for me and his son to try out.
One time my friends Dad brought home a bright florescent orange Ford Cyclone with a 429.
We were sitting at a red light on State Street one evening in the Cyclone wondering why we were hearing a strange noise coming from the wheels when a gentleman in a Mustang Cobra pulled up next to us and asked if we thought we could keep up with him.
We beat him to the next red light by about a car length but the Cyclone started smoking. My friend jumped out and opened the hood to see what was wrong with the car. When he realized what was wrong he started laughing.
At that moment the guy in the Cobra rolled down his window and said, lets race again, I got off to a bad start, I know I can beat you guys. My friend looked up at him and said, sure, we will race you again, but first let me take the parking brake off so that the car will quit smoking!
Later that week we buried the speedometer on the way to Lagoon. I am guessing we were going about 180 miles an hour. I have no desire to ever go that fast again.
That year I got more than my share of speeding tickets and I exceeded the maximum allowable 400 points on my driving record.
When I went before the judge, he was getting ready to take away my drivers license when my father intervened and asked the judge if he would allow me to keep my license if my father promised to send me out of state for an extended period of time.
I had no plans of going on a mission at the time so my Dad was plotting to send me to a Church school in hopes that I might grow up and start getting a clue.
The judge agreed.
My father was his Stake President and that may have had something to do with the mercy that was extended by the Court.
That is how my father was able to get me to attend Ricks College. I had no idea what I was getting in to. I just figured it would be fun to get out of the house and have a vacation of sorts. I did not realize how many strict rules there would be that I would need to obey.
While standing in line to register faculty members would come by with a ruler and measure the length of my hair to see if it was short enough to meet the school standards. I was ejected from the line three times until my hair was short enough. I got to know the barber quite well in one day. The fun vacation I thought I was going to have just seemed to go down hill from there.
I was a spoiled kid with an attitude… which was getting worse.
I sent a diatribe into the school newspaper ranting about how juvenile “Ricks High school” was and stating all of the things that were wrong with it…. to my surprise they published it.
I had played soccer in the high school and was disappointed to find out that the school did not have a soccer team, but I found some other guys at the school that wanted to play and we united with a local group that was trying to form a city league team.
We found a local merchant to sponsor us and pay for uniforms but we inappropriately called ourselves the Ricks College Soccer Team instead of choosing a name that would indicate that we were not sponsored by the school.
My next big disappointment came when the College refused to allow us to use any of their fields to practice on for liability reasons.
We entered several city league tournaments down in Salt Lake and had a lot of fun and the opportunity eventually came to attend an invitational and play some other University teams at the Mini Dome in Pocatello on the Lords Sabbath… and we accepted.
On the day of the tournament a general authority was driving through Pocatello and he heard an announcement on the radio that the Ricks College Soccer team was participating in the tournament on that Sunday. He was enraged. He called Ricks College and gave the President of the College a Scotch Blessing.
On Monday morning the phone in my dorm room rang and the person on the line said “President Eyring wanted to know if you would be willing to meet with him today”.
I was horrified. I thought to myself, “He is going to kick my sorry ass out of this school. What am I going to tell my Old Man?”
I was very fearful. The more I thought about it the more fearful I got and the more fearful I became the angrier I got.
I thought to myself, well, if I am going to get kicked out of the school I may as well go down fighting. I am going to really give President Eyring a piece of my mind.
Before I tell you about the battle I had with President Eyring I want to share a story my Dad used to tell.;
“There was a guy driving through a neighborhood late one night and he got a flat tire. He looked in his trunk and realized he did not have a jack to fix it with. He saw a house at the side of the road but it was about 2:00 in the morning. He thought to himself, if I wake that person to ask if I can borrow a jack, they will be very upset.
He was quite far away from home and really didn’t have any other options so he approached the front door but he became even more fearful… and angry. He kept thinking to himself, this person is going to be very angry when I wake them up.
As he got to the front door he again imagined the worst, and visualized the person screaming at him for disrupting their sleep…. But he knocked on the door anyway.
When the door opened the man with the flat tire yelled at the top of his lungs:
“I don’t want your damn Jack anyway!” and stormed back to his car.”
I relate this story because it describes what was going through my mind. I guess I was on my way to the college to tell President Eyring that I didn’t want his damn Jack anyway.
When I knocked on the door of President Eyring’s office it opened and before I could say a word I received the warmest embrace of my life. He hugged me and looked into my fearful eyes and said with no small degree of sincerity, thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me. I really need your help. Please have a seat.
He then proceeded to tell me what a challenge it was to be a College President. He shared many of the challenges that the College was having and he asked me to instruct him on how he could be a better President of the College…
I could not understand why this guy was treating me as an equal and why he was giving me the respect that I was so unworthy of.
I was putty in his hands.
I don’t even remember what he said or what I said during the next two hours that we met.
I do remember him getting really excited and animated as we philosophized about life and various concepts.
I remember him drawing some diagrams on his white board trying to illustrate some management concepts he had learned at Harvard and asking for my opinion and feedback regarding them… never once during the discussion did he mention my article in the newspaper or the Soccer game on Sunday that had caused him so much embarrassment.
I had never met this guy before yet it was like hanging out with my best friend.
You are probably thinking he was just humoring me and using psychology on me… and he probably was, but love is not something that is easily faked. And I felt love.
President Eyring now has a different job with the same title.
That experience that took place about 35 years ago is one of the most profound experiences of my life.
I went to do battle with President Eyring but he ambushed me… and he killed me with love.
There is no fear fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 1 Jn. 4: 18