Hallway Hockey

Free use photo from Pixabay.com

By Mike Johnson

Give a teenager a little time and freedom and you’ll be surprised at their creativity.

Like figuring how to jimmy the church pop machine.

Our church (Lutheran, we believe all sins are forgiven with a casserole), had a basement retreat room for teens.
It held a few couches, a small pool table, some board games, books and a coin-operated pop machine.

It was lightly used so we were often alone down there.
With privacy and some trial and error, I learned how to snake my skinny arm up the pop can dispensing hole, trip the release bar and score a free Coke.

In those days, pop was only a dime, so my cumulative crime was under a dollar.
Still, I feared being sent to hell to suffer eternal damn carbonation.

Another of our creative inventions was hallway hockey.
The hallway behind the youth room was only 6 feet wide but 40 feet long.
With a plastic puck, plastic sticks and concrete walls as boards, it was the perfect arena.

I played goalie, protecting one 6-foot end of the hallway.
Like baseball, where I excelled at defense, I measured myself by the number of great saves.
I enthusiastically defended the 11th commandment: Thou shalt not score.

Officially, hallway hockey wasn’t allowed.
But Jake, the janitor who ran us off, was spread thin.
Thanks to quiet playing and few witnesses, we got our games in.

Using the standards of 1970, we were juvenile delinquents.
Uncontrolled teens stealing pop and shooting pucks indoors. In a church!
We also needed haircuts, played loud music and chewed gum in school.
Clearly, we were headed for prison.

But that’s not what happened.

Maybe it was my mother’s donated casserole.
Maybe it was God’s grace.
Maybe it was dumb luck.

No jail for us. Not even a night in the drunk tank.

Our hooliganism was released upon greater society and nothing seemed to break.

Once again, authority’s rules did not stop “bad” behavior.
Once again, “bad” behavior, as defined by authority, was not really bad at all.
We were just being kids.

Ever since hallway hockey, I’ve questioned rules. Which taught me to question authority.

Who are they to shut us down? Weren’t my parents paying a share of that church?

Doesn't authority answer to God just like me?

I learned the best rule is God's rule. Free will.
Let the individual decide.
Let the individual enjoy or suffer the consequences.

Per God, freedom has always been the rule.

Even with hallway hockey.



Rod Hockey


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