When I walked into the bathroom of a Phoenix restaurant last week, the only thing on my mind was what a great decision I’d made to order the blackened ribeye tacos. I’d briefly flirted with the idea of choosing the filet mignon salad, but ultimately I couldn’t bring myself to order a salad, no matter how tender the beef on it might be.
The self-congratulation continued (these were really good tacos) as I stepped up to the bathroom’s lone urinal. At just about the time I started to get to business, I heard the door open behind me. That’s when my routine trip to the bathroom got interesting.
“I saw you out there, but I didn’t get a chance to meet you. I really wanted to meet you,” one man said to another.
The first man gave his name, and the second said, “Thanks. It’s nice to meet you.”
“Huh,” I thought to myself. “What a strange interaction.” I was at a loss trying to think of explanations for the scenario I was hearing. I didn’t have to wait long.
“I just want to say how much I appreciate everything you’ve done for the Eagles,” the first man said.
My ears perked up.
“Thanks, that means a lot,” the second man said. “I love being part of the Philadelphia community.”
Full of curiosity but bound by the rules of bathroom etiquette, I continued to look straight ahead.
“But really, you don’t understand,” the first man insisted. “What you did meant so much to me. I’ve been a huge fan since the Ron Jaworski days.”
At this moment I realized that something was off about the way the fan was speaking. It sounded to me like he was heavily inebriated, but I can’t say for sure. It’s possible he was just overcome with nerves from meeting one of his heroes.
Finally, I finished up at the urinal and turned around, wondering if I’d be able to recognize the Eagles player with whom I was sharing a bathroom. That immediately felt like a silly question as soon as I saw the unmistakably lanky Nick Foles standing next to a much shorter man in a Philadelphia Eagles jacket.
As Foles stepped up to use the urinal at which I had just been reminiscing about tacos, the fan continued talking, apparently oblivious to how awkward it is to stand next to a man and chat with him while he is in that situation. It would have been perfectly understandable for Foles to send the guy on his way, or at the very least stop engaging with him, but he did nothing of the sort.
As the fan continued his discourse well past the threshold of uncomfortableness, the Super Bowl LII MVP continued smiling and responding kindly. Even when the fan said, “Nick, I know you don’t drink, but it would mean so much to me if I could buy you a drink,” Foles came up with a graceful way to deflect the offer without hurting the man’s feelings.
A person can only wash his hands for so long, and I eventually hit that limit. At this point the fan was still talking, repeating himself several times and begging Foles, who appears likely to become a free agent, to stay in Philadelphia. I contemplated trying to persuade the fan to leave the bathroom as I made my way out, but I figured Foles, still acting as nice as could be, would handle the situation better himself.
He apparently did, because a minute later he left the bathroom, returning to his table and getting on with his night as if he hadn’t just had a strange bathroom experience.
When one of my editors told me I should write about this encounter, I laughed. But then I realized it’s more than just a silly story. It shows that Foles, who has developed a reputation as a strong Christian, family man and generally likable guy, is the real deal. He’s walking the walk, even when (almost) no one is looking.
It didn’t matter to him that the fan was pestering him at a rather private time and was quite possibly drunk. Foles saw him as a human being and treated him as such.
We could all learn a little something from what Nick Foles did in a Phoenix bathroom.
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