The unexpected banana


Did the headline of a news story ever leave you scratching your head, at least until you read the whole thing? Well, this is probably one of those stories and it begins, however odd it may seem, with a banana.

Once a week, I play basketball at the local YMCA, not with a team or anything, but just for exercise. On one of those days, a particularly nice, spring day, I was approached at the front door by a woman with a crate of bananas. “Would you like a banana?” she asked, cheerfully presenting the open box as if it were something from a jewelry counter display.

I honestly didn’t have an answer right off. It really wasn’t the kind of question I was expecting on the way into the gym. The more poignant question that immediately consumed me was, why is there a woman with a crate of bananas at the entrance to the YMCA?

A bit thrown by the random offer of fruit, I finally realized there were a half-dozen other people with her, all in athletic attire, and carrying signs and tables into a truck. As it turned out, I arrived just as a running event was closing, a 5K or the like. The box of fruit was what remained of the bananas provided to the runners at the support stations. So, never one to look a gift plantain in the peel, I gratefully accepted.

To most, a free banana might not, at first glance, seem like a life-changing incident. But, to me it was at least thought-provoking; not because of the banana, but the spontaneous gift it represented. It’s not like I was having a particularly bad day in the first place, but that one, small action changed it, lightened my thoughts, and gave me a feeling I couldn’t quite express at the time.

As I settled into my basketball routine, I dropped the banana into my gym bag and set it aside. But I kept thinking about the randomness of having received such a thing, in such a random way, at such a random time. So, after a few minutes, I went back to it.

Strangely enough, I opened the banana and proceeded to eat it, while simultaneously dribbling and shooting a basket here and there. I would imagine I was a pretty strange sight, but what did I care? I had a banana – an unexpected banana.

I have to say, I never considered a piece of fruit as what might generally be considered “comfort food,” but that’s how it felt at the moment. There was something about this curious food, botanically categorized as a berry (I know! Weird, right?) that generated a strange and calm feeling of gratitude. What I felt was a level of contentment as I wandered around the court, shooting the ball, and munching away, oblivious to pretty much anything else – at least until the banana was gone.

I’m fairly certain the lady who gave it to me had no idea what an impact she made on one person’s day. I mean, it was just a banana, and she was trying to unload a

box full of them so they wouldn’t be wasted. Still, there I was, my day lifted, my jump shot better – don’t be too impressed, it’s a low bar – and I was just happy. I had a banana.

So why should my banana story, umm … appeal to you? Come on, you knew I had to, right? Because something ordinary can be special if you let it. Because in the chaos of daily life, all the noise, distractions, and stresses, unanticipated treasures are all around us. We each have the power to let them move us, even if only for a few moments.

When you think about it, people are always searching for some kind of inner peace, a tranquility that seems more elusive and empty every day. Usually, we scratch our way through life, searching for even a hint of such thoughtful enlightenment by artificial means. But sometimes a quiet moment of unexpected joy and calm can emanate from the most unusual but ubiquitous source. Sometimes all we really need is for someone to give us a banana.

Gery Deer is a Greene County resident and columnist. He can be reached at

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