This week has been all about inspiring change, making a difference, and being the person you were born to be through your work. In honor of this theme, I am going to take the next three Tuesdays to share with you a short story I wrote a couple of years back. As we go along, I look forward to your comments as you await the ending of this three-part series. Enjoy!
And I said, “Thank you…” with a smile (Part One)
It had been a very long day at the office, one I would just as soon forget. I knew times were tough, but I wasn’t expecting to lose my job. The reality that I would be facing the unemployment ranks in the morning was still sinking in.
“Why,” I wondered, “does life have to be so unfair sometimes?”
The bitter wind took my breath away as I headed for my car. A bout of wet snow the past several days had caked my car in a combination of dried muck and road salt. “I’ll get it washed this weekend,” I thought, “but right now I just want to get home.”
As I hurried across the parking lot in the growing darkness, avoiding the occasional patch of ice, I noticed a figure in the distance who seemed to be crouched over the hood of my car. “What the heck?!” I muttered as I picked up my pace to investigate this unwelcome surprise. As I approached, I watched the tall thin man turn to face me.
My first instinct was to take a defensive posture in case this stranger dared to confront me. But my aggressive stance melted the moment the light of the overhead lamppost illuminated his face. Before me was not a man with ill intent, but a man with the most peaceful, friendly blue eyes, that seemed to burn a hole right through to my heart.
“Hello,” he said. “Rather cold out tonight.”
“Yes,” was all I replied, still entranced by something I saw in his face. There was a story behind those blue pools that danced in the light. His face was well-worn, probably from years of exposure to sun and wind. He was dressed in layers of tattered, but clean old clothes, barely enough to fight off the cold for even a short period of time. Beside him was his pack. I guessed it contained the sum of his possessions. And in his hands he held a rag and a spray bottle with a remnant of blue liquid.
“Thought your windshield needed a bit of cleaning,” he said, interrupting my thoughts, “so you could clearly find your way tonight.”
“Uh, thanks,” I managed, while thinking, if he only knew.
“Rough day?” he asked.
“You could say that,” I answered, wondering if I had given something away in my face. But even as the words came out I felt a twinge of guilt thinking that my life was hard compared to his. What did I have to complain about? Sure I had lost my job today, but at least I had a warm place to lay my head tonight.
What about this man?
(Stay tuned for Part 2 next week)
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