Pin It I stumbled across my journals tonight. I was looking for something else when I found the stack of books I’d not looked at in years. One of these drew my attention. It was a blue, hardcover journal I’d written a flurry of years ago; in a time when I was making that transition from boyhood to manhood. In the front of this journal I wrote something a few years after my original entries:
“…In all the things in life we do, everything contains lessons…if only we look hard enough to see them.”
For the next few posts, I would like to share a few of the ‘gems’ hidden away in these pages…nestled amongst the frivolity and stupidity of a boy who has changed in so many ways from this person he once was, and in other ways, changed because of these experiences.
Rewind: 12 or so years ago.
When I graduated high school I moved to Spokane, Washington.
I worked at Ernst Home Center.
I also worked at a movie theater.
I used to sell popcorn and tear tickets.
Yet, during this time I never realized just how much the people at the movie theater cared about me.
On November 14th I was just finishing my shift at the theater; Vince Brown, one of the managers, said that he needed to see me after work.
I waited at the box office until Vince was done counting deposits.
He saw me waiting and asked me to follow him outside. I walked with him to his car in the lightly-falling snow, the white flakes spotting my black vest like flakes of ash from a bonfire.
Vince said that he wanted to show me something.
When we got to his car, he unlocked the back door and reached inside, saying, “Now, this is just a little something from me, and someone else who wishes to remain anonymous.”
He pulled out a large J.C. Penny bag.
I knew what was in that bag, even before he handed it to me.
“Vince, I can’t take that.” I protested, holding up both hands.
Vince shook his head, thrust the bag into my hands and said, “People care about you, Jason. You need to let them do things for you every once and awhile.”
He looked at me for another second. As I made to protest again he added, “You’ve been on the ‘giving’ end for so long, you need to know what it’s like being on the ‘getting’ end.”
With that he turned and walked away, leaving me in the falling snow, clutching the plastic bag with trembling fingers.
I watched as Vince returned to the theater without looking back, and I realized that I was crying. I stood there for nearly another minute…snowflakes settling in my hair and on my shoulders.
I had been coming to work that winter without a coat. I had lost my last one nearly a year before, and hadn’t put the money aside to buy another one yet. I figured that I could get by for the time being with a sweatshirt…which I did.
I remember Vince, Diane Cahalan, & Cori Wetzel all asking me at one time or another where my coat was. I always told them that I didn’t need one.
They hadn’t believed me.
As I opened the bag I saw the black and blue St. John’s Bay winter coat.
I felt a little ashamed that I had this jacket. It was undoubtedly expensive, and I didn’t feel like I deserved it.
I trudged to my car, wiping the snow away from the windshield and looked up at the darkened heavens. The snow continued to fall, and everything about me was silent. It was as if the entire world was asleep and I was the only one awake.
I opened my car door and put the bag inside, standing out in the chilly air, my breath appearing before me as puffs of steam. I reached back into my car and took the bag out. I removed the coat and slipped it over my shoulders.
It felt warm. Warm from the kindness of others