Thursday, April 14, 2011
I was walking through a local grocery store last week when I heard my name being called. My name is common, and it's never me they are yelling at, so I ignored it and went on. When I finally realized they were calling me I turned to find a woman I hardly recognized. She had been the assistant manager of a small retail store near my home, an older lady in her late fifties. The woman standing before me now looked great, she was dressed nicer than I remembered, had her hair professionally done, was wearing full makeup and looked genuinely happy, and it restored my faith a little.
Two years ago this woman, we'll call her Helen, although that is not her name, had hired on as a part time stocker to make a little money. Within a month they were insisting she take a full time assistant managership, and not the being the type to say no, she did. I watched a vibrant, lovely woman with a quick smile age 10 years in just a few weeks under the heavy, stressful schedule.
About the same time a young man named Robert, again, not his real name, also showed up and began working cash register at this little store that I frequented almost daily since my theater was across the street. He was a college student, very polite, well spoken and everyone mentioned he was a hard worker. That would soon change.
Once Helen accepted the job, the manager of the store began dumping more and more responsibility on her to the point of breaking. She was closing almost every night, did most of the payroll, and in short was, in actuality managing the store because she just couldn't say no. But, still with a ready smile and a kind word, all around one of my favorite people. Until she was gone.
A few weeks before that I had noticed an extreme change in Robert, he began dressing a little more ghetto, not really seeming to care. He stopped taking care of his hair. His attitude became sullen and I heard from Helen that everyone suspected his new girlfriend was a bad influence. Then he dropped out of college and made the job his full time gig, always complaining, never enough money, and so on.
On the day that I asked about Helen, the manager, whose name I won't even substitute since I honestly cannot remember, told me that Helen had been let go due to a $3000 shortage in a bank deposit. This shocked me, what I heard next enraged me. It seemed that Robert suddenly had four months back rent money, a better car and new sneakers, that plus everyone had heard him joking about the heist, but it couldn't be proven. Helen had taken the fall, refusing to file a report of suspicion. Robert kept his job a few more months and the last time I saw him, he was shuffling through the same store, bleary eyed in Sponge Bob pajama pants, a scuzzy white wife beater and a pair of Bunny Slippers.
I wondered what had happened to my friend. I wanted to beat some sense into this stupid young punk for what he had done to himself and her. Wanted to throw his Gangsta rapper wannabe drug skinny sorry ass excuse for a man body up against the building and tell him what I thought. But, not Helen. She thought he deserved a chance and had moved on.
She is now assistant manager of a shiny new pharmacy, making three times as much money, twenty pounds lighter, looking ten years younger and with her mysterious health problems having corrected themselves,and she thanks God for Robert everyday, and prays for him. So, I guess it's true. The universe (AKA God, Jehovah, Elohim) really is paying attention.
So, when was the last time you truly let God fight your battles for you. He says he will you know. I'm looking for an opportunity to try it. An opportunity to be wronged and say nothing, to show love, instead of righteous indignation, and I can't wait to tell you how it turns out.