Thursday, September 3, 2009

Repost - The Gift

Pin It Originally posted on January 25, 2009

I am a firm believer that we can be the hands and feet of God; moving and serving each other as he would if he were here walking among us. In the words of Alabama: "...there are angels among us." There have been, in my own life, times when I have been at the receiving hands of these angels in disguise.

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, and 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


Linn said...

That is a fabulous story! I love kind people!

♥Miya said...

Speaking of gifts, yours is going to be a bit late...we aren't quite finished making it yet! But I promise it will rock your socks off.

Corine said...

There are so many good people (I mean, angels :) in the world! And they deserve so much more than they know.

Gerb said...

Still a favorite - I can relate in so many ways to this post. I'm glad it's one you decided to add to your re-post collection.

Anonymous said...

I've had people in my life like this, J. It's humbling, because while you hope that one day you can repay the gift of their kindness, you realize that the only way you can accurately do so is by paying it forward.

K.J. said...

I love to hear stories of giving...I love to give to others! I really enjoy this post!

Teachinfourth said...

L - I often wonder whatever happened to Vince and Diane...time goes on and we lose contact with these people who impacted our lives.

M - I am delinquent as well...mostly because I stink.

C - So often I think that they don't know how much they are really appreciated.

G - I am as well...I only have about 4 more reposts and then I am back to simply coming up with new stuff.


L - I love that movie. The idea behind it is a great one.

K - It is something I need to constantly remind myself of more often.

Lars said...

It's stories such as this that make me not lose hope in humanity. Thanks for sharing.

Teachinfourth said...

L - It's moments like this that I write so as to remind myself as well...

Plain Jame said...

oh my holy crap. that was an awesome story. clearly i'm a little choked up and seem too good for proper puncutation, but I had to say - I had one of those moments myself but when I was 12. I should share it.

Teachinfourth said...

J - If it isn't too personal, it might be a good idea to share just never know when an experience you have to offer might be of help to someone else. Thanks for reading.

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