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I don’t mean to brag or anything, but I’m the former Utah State Monopoly champion.
That’s why Hasbro invited me, back in 1999, to play in the national Monopoly tournament in Las Vegas, where I placed 5th.
Many people think of Monopoly as either a tedious, unending game of luck or an ordeal that only concludes when a sibling or a friend—never oneself, of course—overturns the gameboard in a fit of rage and a flurry of cash.
When people don’t see Monopoly the way I do, I feel like they’re looking at a lightning bug without ever seeing it light up.
I, however, know how to keep a game of Monopoly moving toward a swift and certain end, and I’ve experienced how fun a structured Monopoly tournament can be.
The thrill of playing a game I’ve loved since childhood, and competing at the highest levels, has stayed with me. Wanting to share that thrill with others, in 2017, I organized the Utah State Monopoly Championship.
I went on local afternoon TV news programs to promote the tournament.
On tournament day, a woman I’d never met showed up to play. Her name was Nancee, and she was in a wheelchair. But that wasn’t the first thing I noticed about her.
What I noticed was how enthusiastic she was. She greeted me with the kind of smile people usually reserve for loved ones who’ve returned unexpectedly from long journeys to distant lands.
When she shook my hand, her hands were as warm as freshly baked bread.
She told me that she saw me on TV from the hospital room where she’d been for the last few weeks, dealing with the late stages of a terminal illness.
In fact, this was the first time she’d left the hospital since she’d been admitted, and she’d be returning immediately after the tournament.
I asked why she’d made what was obviously a significant effort to come. She said that she was moved when she saw me talking so passionately about Monopoly, and that she wanted to be somewhere with people who were having fun doing something they loved.
Nancee played in the tournament and had a good time.
I don’t remember how she placed, but she thanked me as she left, saying the experience was exactly what she hoped it would be.
Less than a month later, I received an email from her friend letting me know that Nancee had passed away.
It was a powerful reminder for me that life is precious and time is short. That play is as important as work, worship or sleep. That one can never have too many friends. And that you never know what someone’s going through.
It confirmed for me that when we do what we love and share our passions with others, we sometimes provide them with exactly what they need to lighten their load and brighten their day.
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