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One day several months ago, a thin middle-aged UPS man with salt and pepper hair appeared in our driveway. My son Charlie was shooting hoops. The man put our package down and put his hands up in a universal gesture that means “pass me the ball.” That wordless moment initiated a common bond—a man, a boy, and a basketball.

Now, if Charlie’s out playing hoops and sees the UPS man coming, he is at the ready to pass him the ball. And the UPS man is at the ready to catch it.

“How long do you two play for?” I asked Charlie, knowing how tight a schedule those UPS drivers operate on.

“About five times, until he makes a bank shot.”

“What’s his name?”

“I don’t know.”

The UPS man doesn’t know Charlie’s name either.

And they don’t need to know, I realize. What they share is a moment of hoops, a small break in their day when they don’t have to think about anything else but the ball going in.