A Disarming Encounter

A quiet old man came into work yesterday and waited patiently in line with nothing to buy, a lone figure amongst those plentiful in front and behind him who had armloads of gear to purchase. Guessing he was after a gift card I took little notice besides what my rushed and constant work flow allowed. He looked like a good grandfather to some little boy and his overstuffed yellow satchel he kept closely guarded in front of him belied his care and concern for those things he carried with him. When his turn finally came to approach the counter my co-worker looked to him expecting the request of a gift card also. However, with the difficulty of one overcoming either the fear of yet more rejection or the claws of mental degeneration, the old man finally managed to stutter the question of whether or not we would be open to hiring him for working in our warehouse. He had neither the muscle nor swiftness required for the position and all I could see in him was a man much stronger forty years ago,once proud and dignified with ladies who chased after him, now with hat in hand asking a question he somehow knew would serve him only another dismissal for a job that did not exist in this place. My heart went out to him and I wanted to know his story, but with another purchase plopped on my counter I could do nothing but watch him walk away as fast as the heaviness on his shoulders would allow.

Perhaps I am over dramatizing the poor man’s situation, but maybe I’m not. In whatever case, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about a man who was living a life neither dignified nor worthy of his respected years. God, have that man found and bring peace to his frame and a smile to his eyes.

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