“Hey, you! Yes, you,” A man in a suit and displaying a huge smile, enthusiastically shouts to the viewer from a YouTube commercial. “Do you ever look back on your life and say ‘if I could do it again, I would do ‘x’ or ‘y’…?”
Alan rolled his eyes, thinking just another gimmick, and got ready to click the ‘Skip ad’ notification, but the ‘if I could do it again’ line intrigued him.
“Well, this is your chance. Join those who are happy now after coming on our show to get that ‘second chance’ to do whatever it is they did not get to do the first time. Still skeptical? Don’t just take it from me. Listen to these testimonials!”
Flashes of person after person appeared telling their quick story. One lady whose true passion was drawing had been denied her art scholarship by her parents who wanted her to pursue an “acceptable career.” Courtesy of the show, she is now enrolled in an art and design class. Then, a man, who let a business opportunity with a friend slide by because he hesitated too long with an answer. It didn't seem like a stable idea at the time. As it turned out, the business became very successful and he’s been regretting it ever since. He tried different things, but nothing became fruitful enough to quit his job. Once again, the show came to the rescue by putting him in touch with a group for entrepreneurs. From there, he gelled with two others interested in the same business. After pitching their idea at various conventions, this led to a write-up about them in Business Today Magazine for a feature on up-and-coming small businesses.
“So, what are you waiting for?” the host continued. “Hop on over to our website right now for your chance – at a second chance.”
He gave a thumbs-up before the screen turned white. All that was left was the website address displayed in bold, vivid colors, like a beckoning hand.
Could he really get a second chance?
Recalling his own long-ago missed opportunity, he drifted back to his last year in high school, when he and two friends started a band. Man, those were the days; the three of them so full of hope and stars in their eyes, hell-bent on making it. But it wasn’t until he was 25, that the chance of a lifetime finally happened – their band was presented with an offer to go on tour with Insane Energy, a hugely popular band at the time. His band-mates Stash and Harley jumped on it from the get-go. Of course, it was easy for them, he thought now, a trace of bitterness still lingering, even after all these years. At the time, Stash lived at home, and had yet, to receive an answer from college, and Harley had two jobs, but no other commitments. He, on the other hand, had a kid by then and married his high school love, Stella.
Alan faced a heart-breaking choice. At first, he pleaded with her to go on tour with him, even suggesting to bring little Jason along. Instead, she called him crazy and put her foot down with an ultimatum. He knew what he had to do, and it was the hardest thing he ever did.
Now, despite his misgivings, he made a note to check the website. You never know, he mused with a slight glimmer in his heart. But first, he Googled the guy who got in Business Today Magazine, just to see if the story was true.
He was about to continue browsing when Stella appeared in the room.
“Hey you,” she greeted with a tender smile. “Leave the computer and come have some dinner with me.”
Stella. She was a good mother to their boy and a good wife. Their shared love of music since high school days was what attracted him to her; he was in the school band, while she was in the choir. Over ten years of marriage did not fade their affection for each other. Of that he was grateful, but they had settled in the comfortable familiarity of domestic life. He often wondered if she sometimes pondered singing again.
Taking her up on her offer, his stomach suddenly growled. Funny, he hadn’t noticed his hunger before.
As he dined, his mind strolled between the past and present. Even though he was no longer in a band, he still found an outlet for his creativity. Once a week he and Vince, a bass player and friend, got together for open jam nights at some of the local bars. Sometimes other musicians joined them.
He enjoyed it, but was it enough?
The next day at work, when he saw Shawn, his co-worker and friend, he mentioned the YouTube commercial. “Second Chances? I don’t think I heard of it.”
“It said if your request is selected, they can make it happen,” Alan said, checking the schedule clipboard in the back of the Café/Coffee House.
Shawn adjusted his name tag. “Why don’t you give it a shot? he encouraged.
Good ol’ Shawn; always positive and a kind word for everybody. That’s what Alan liked about him.
“Hardly a day goes by when you don’t talk about music,” Shawn chided, half-jokingly.
“I don’t know… I’m 45 now. Besides, Stella would never go for it,” he countered, remembering her reaction the first time.
“Sometimes in life, you have to take a chance. You only live once.” Shawn then glanced around before lowering his voice. “See Fred over there?”
Alan stole a glance towards the older man maneuvering a broom across the floor.
“Do you think he’s happy doing that?” Shawn continued. “Sure, it’s honest work, but I can bet he had his dreams too.”
Alan considered his position. At least he had been promoted to Assistant Manager. Considering what he had lost out on, this was his consolation prize. But it wasn’t his dream job. And if he wasn’t happy, was he any better off than Fred?
“Look, all I’m saying is go for it.” Shawn urged him. Your son is older, so no excuses. You seeing that commercial was a sign.”
That evening, shortly after he got home from work, he placed himself in front of the computer. Spurned on by Shawn’s encouragement and with Stella still away at work, he summoned the Second Chances website. After perusing the rules and entry instructions, he was ready. Then he came to the big question in the online form:
What would you like a second chance to do? Without hesitation his fingers strummed the keyboard:
To play professionally in a band.
The ‘send’ button generated an automatic ‘Thank you’ reply.
Then he waited. And waited.
Disheartened, he forgot all about it, until two weeks later when he received another email while on his lunch break.
“Congratulations your entry has been selected for an upcoming episode of Second Chances. Please read the following carefully for your next steps…”
Barely containing his excitement, he went over the email again to make sure he read right. Shawn ecstatically pulled him into a rough bear-hug when he heard the news. “Way to go man!”, then, as they broke away, he added, “Just don’t forget me when you’re famous.”
A few minutes later he pulled out his cell. Bracing himself, he dialed.
When a female voice answered, he said, “Hey hon, do you know that TV show called Second Chances…?”