Story

94. A FRIEND HAS DIED

Spock

I wasn’t expecting to be so angry about this. I’m overwhelmingly upset, but honestly, I’m more pissed than anything. What the hell, you know? We weren’t that close but there was common ground and respect. We’d gone to the movies together, worked together, and laughed together. We’d even exchanged a few gifts. He was a good man; not a jerk nor anything unkind or abrasive. He was quick to laugh and in fact I don’t remember him ever being in a bad mood.

What sucks is I hadn’t spoken to him for a while. When he left our company we drifted apart but on occasion we’d still talk. He was a terrific handyman, and I know what I’m saying being in construction myself. He had gotten hired with us just so he could get his Masters license. His real skill wasn’t as a plumber though, it was foremost with wood and secondly with tile. Some of his artistic talents were channeled into making Celtic shields. They were magnificent pieces and they sold quickly for high prices. I had the pleasure of seeing his mountain home some years back and it was filled with beauty from his hand. I was quite envious of his talent and I had planned on hiring him to do some work at our house at some point in the future. It didn’t seem all too long ago when I called and recommend him to a potential customer. I remember going off topic and discussing just how horrifically bad the first Hobbit film was compared to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. That was the last time we spoke.  He was the same age as me.

I found out about his death through another close friend who called him up to see how he was doing. He had left a message and his widow called back saying he died last February. I’d love to say I can empathize with her, but I find I’m being selfish and preoccupied. My heart breaks for her, that’s for sure, but my thoughts keep drifting to examining my mortality; my own unrealized dreams. If I were to die tomorrow, what will I have left on my plate? What potential will have vanished? What potential did my friend leave unmanifested? I don’t know, but I’m positive the world would be a better place with him still in it.

The picture of Spock was one of his gifts to me; a rather thoughtful (and rare) one. When the action figures were released in the early seventies, coinciding with the premiere of the animated version of Star Trek, I had made it all too plain to my parents that I wanted Spock.  They got me Scotty instead saying Spock was sold out. I was grateful, but as an eight year old kid I was nonetheless deeply disappointed. We were both fans of Star Trek and this story came up one day as we talked about the show. He must have REALLY understood my feelings on the incident because when I showed up to my job the next day I got a call from him to look under a bucket in the corner. Behold, there was Spock! He sits in a place of honor in my home now, a fitting reminder of my friend.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

92. MY MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT

Secret

Okay……. before you read this entry you HAVE to watch the commercial I’m going to reference, don’t worry, it’s only 33 seconds long.

In the late seventies and early eighties TV was a repetitious monster. With only three networks, (PBS doesn’t count here) programming was ridiculously limited and choice of entertainment was quite literally never much of a choice. It had been that way for years, decades at the time, and so too were the inescapable commercials sandwiched between shows. Many were relentlessly ran ad nauseam. By the time some were finally pulled from circulation the child actors had most likely become college graduates.

One of the tricks then, and still today, was to (hopefully) insert contagious catch phrases into our daily lives. Once repeated they’ll anchor themselves back to the item being pitched. It doesn’t matter if the connection is negative or positive because the manufacturer figures we still have their product (instead of someone else’s) in our heads.

One such ad was for “Calgon” which is, for those who don’t know, a powdered additive not normally found in regular laundry detergents. The still above is shows a white customer in a cleaners run by people from an Asian decent. No one thought it was wrong or out-of-place then, but it sticks out now with a somewhat slimy racial feel, at least in my opinion. At any rate the ad ran for close to six or seven years from the seventies to the eighties. Everyone made fun of it and for good reason.

I know I did one too many times…..

Sometime around nineteen eighty-five I was working nights as the lead of the janitorial crew at a local Target store here in the Denver-metro area. The duties were physically demanding and often tedious. When the larger areas were clean and perfect, management had a tendency to (justifiably) look for smaller flaws in harder to clean areas. So did we; and not just out of a sense of duty, but pride as well. Thus it came to be one night when the doors were locked and the customers had left, and while the evening closing crews were facing the shelving and putting things away, that I was approached with a nice complement from one of the store’s employees.

I happened to be on my hands and knees digging some gunk out of  one of the corners up front. My back was turned when I heard a voice behind me.

“You know, your floors always look so clean and shiny. How do you do it?”

Instantly the “Calgon” commercial jumped to mind and in a moment of complete un-inspiration, I opened my big mouth.

As I was standing up and turning around to face my admirer I uttered those words tattooed in my brain.

“It’s an ancient Chinese secret!”

As luck would have it turned out he was an Asian gentleman. Not only that he was REALLY pissed. My mind went instantly to another racial stereotype while I envisioned my ass getting kicked Bruce Lee Style.

As I stood there, feeling the blood draining from my face and my I.Q, dropping sharply, I stammered trying to redeem myself with zero effect. I’m sure he knew where my reference had originated, but that made little difference. After staring a hole through my skull, he eventually just turned and walked away.

Have you ever locked your keys in the car and realized what you were doing as you were swinging the door shut? You want to stop the momentum, but it isn’t going to happen and you become witness to your own stupidity.

Noooooo!

SLAM!

crap………

Such was my experience in this event. I spent the good part of the following week sick to my stomach. After that I was a lot more careful to curb my knee jerk reactions. Those who know me these days might say I’m still over spontaneous with my mouth, and yes, I do taste my foot more often than I’d like, but there was a time where no aforethought existed at all. I eventually found a way to soften those moments of potential rudeness.

I try to ask myself “What’s the kindest thing I can respond with here?”

I try……

My cringe-worthy moments are rare these days but I will say this; most of them are bred from an effort to expel humor, not really as an attempt to impress my audience, but instead to amuse myself. In the end, my ego gleefully puts my neck in the noose while I commit social suicide.

Thank God I can laugh at my past now. I’ve learned to forgive those events I used to hold on to that others have let fade from memory, but I really do think the man I insulted over thirty years ago never forgot that night.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

 

 

89. THE POWER OF HONESTY

s-l1600

One of my first jobs in the early nineteen-eighties was working at a Target store here in Littleton, Colorado. The night shift and nature of our duties was anything but glamorous. Being good at pushing a broom, scrubbing toilets, and vacuuming are not strong points on anyone’s resume’ and bragging rights to the speed at which one can walk every aisle seven times in eight hours will empress very few. Because of this it was difficult to find anyone willing to do the work, let alone keep them for any length of time. Many came and went, in fact when I eventually became supervisor the rate of turnover was revealed to be on average at least once a week. It was a hard, continuously moving job with lousy hours and I do not miss it in the slightest.

One of my supervisors who lasted a little longer than some was a fella I’ll call Frank. He was best described as a “cool jerk”. He had a big mouth just like me but his delivery was somewhat louder and defiantly more caustic. Insults rolled out of his pie hole more than any situation warranted. Usually they came out as goofy and humorous in nature, but they really were constantly annoying. Such crude indignities as “Eat a rock, Kiss my whatever, and Up yours!” were bland and fairly easy to ignore, but they were nonetheless delivered disrespect and ignorance. Frank was obviously the playground bully who hadn’t outgrown the need to shove others around in order to elevate himself to a false sense of superiority. All of us put up with his incessant blithering for months until one guy showed up as part of our crew.

I instantly liked David. He was kind, hard working, focused and fun to be around. He was also the first Mormon I’d ever worked with. His faith showed in his actions and there was never any reason to mistrust or belittle him. This, however, did not stop Frank from directing his barrage of mindless chatter elsewhere. In fact, because David’s manners were humble and peaceful, he focused even more energy towards him in an effort to get a reaction. For weeks David turned his cheek, mostly because Frank was our boss, but more because he didn’t want to be the type who would let pointless opinions affect his demeanor.

Then one night EVERYTHING changed……

David had been with us for probably two months now. As usual, at the allotted time, we made our way to the breakroom and sat down to our perspective tables to eat lunch.  This particular night Frank was going out of his way to be excessively obnoxious and all of his energy was directed towards David. He was doing his best to block the verbal abuse with a newspaper when I saw from his perspective that he’d finally had enough. David casually flipped down the edge of what he was reading and stared at his abuser. Frank had this huge dopey grin on his face thinking he had finally gotten under the skin of his victim. He was waiting anxiously to see what kind of reaction was coming. What happened next was probably one of the funniest things I’ve ever witnessed in my life. David slowly folded and placed the paper on the table in front of him and calmly said one sentence to Frank while staring directly into his eyes.

“Well……..at least I’m not fat.”

That was the hardest moment of my life I ever had keeping a straight face. Frank was stunned. He sat straight up and seemed to turn to stone. David, on the other hand, picked up his paper and continued to read while finishing his lunch.  Frank was self-conscious about his weight to begin with, and while I never considered his girth to be out of the ordinary, he did. Frank didn’t speak to him for the rest of the night, in fact I don’t think he EVER spoke to David much after that incident except to ask him to do something as a manager.

Eventually David went on to a different job and a better future, but I never forgot the lesson in honesty he presented so perfectly.  In his absence he left us with a quieter less aggressive supervisor. There’s no doubt in my mind his gentle resolve still to this day serves all who came in contact with him.

Should we always turn away from meaningless insults for the rest of our lives? Yes, I believe we should when they come from strangers and temporary associates, but when they are constantly delivered from those we are bound to, then absolutely not. Why? Because if nothing else when bullies receive no resistance, their behavior inevitably becomes magnified and that behavior can lead to hurting others even if it REALLY doesn’t bother you.

When honesty is used as a defense (NOT as an offence, huge difference) there are few countermeasures capable of blocking it. David was not mean or nasty with his delivery, just forthright. And Frank, when confronted with the truth, had nothing to say against it because any kind of resistance would look like he was unaware of the obvious, which no one wants to admit to.

I must confess, I’ve used this tactic on an extremely limited basis. Not because I don’t think it will work, obviously it will, it’s just that in my opinion I feel it’s a last-resort technique. If done properly the likelihood it will sever all ties between you and your perceived aggressor is quite high. Just because someone is thoughtless or annoying a few times doesn’t mean this person has no value in life. Remember this, people only treat us the way we allow them to treat us, and that’s a fact.

Yes, the truth may indeed set you (and those who suffer with you ) free………..

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

86. WAYNE DYER

Dyer first audio

I love thrift stores. I rarely hesitate when the chance to discover and rummage through a newly found one pops up. There was a time when my work had me earning a living in a wide range of destinations from Seattle to Des Moines to Omaha and Kansas city including a plethora of towns and destinations in between. Each place meant new opportunities to explore; new treasures to find, especially in the way of books. It also meant a LOT of driving, sometimes hundreds of miles a day. When I grew tired of the content on the radio (and my own thoughts in the lonely silence waned) I eventually turned to audiobooks. Second hand shops certainly had no shortage of these. Before I went into recovery my choices were of the fictional nature, but as my life turned around so did my taste in what was not only entertaining, but educational.

My sponsor encouraged me to investigate new teachers and subjects beyond what A.A. offers. Naturally I began to seek facts and philosophies that would align with a life of continued self-improvement. I had regular print books in my library he had recommended, but nothing as of yet sought on my own. It was at this time I came across Dr. Wayne Dyer’s “The Secrets to Manifesting Your Destiny” at a local Goodwill. Well, the title had me intrigued and I knew, very superficially, who Dyer was so he wasn’t a complete unknown. After reading the back I thought I’d give it a try. This was about one year into my recovery, perhaps around the summer of nineteen ninety-six.

After playing and enjoying it once, I put it away thinking this was going to be the last and only time I would listen to it. I was wrong. About a year later I was bored, and again, it caught my eye. Upon giving it a second audience I was surprised to hear a lot I’d missed the first time. Dyer, as well as all great teachers, can be like this; either that or I’m simply a poor listener. At any rate, the pump had been officially primed for new teachings from the same source. More of his seminars were forthcoming from where I’d originally found the first one, thrift stores. Rather quickly I had attained a large library of his works along with such orators as Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, and titles including “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill.  Other subjects accumulated as well, addressing such diverse topics as language skills, memory skills, math skills, business and leadership skills, and time management skills. Some were dull and quickly forgotten but Dyer remained my favorite.

As time went along I began to adopt his suggestions of encouragement. I was intrigued by his presentation of the “self-actuated person” as first put forth by Abraham Maslow. Dyer felt this state of being could be achieved by anyone, as opposed to Maslow’s argument that it was confined to a limited number of gifted people. Years later I was approached by someone with whom I’d had a little contact but nothing close. They handed a complement saying I was the most self-actuated person they ever met. I do my best to remain “independent of the good opinion of others” but this was a special treat and I was moved by their gift. I’ve had “peak spiritual experiences” and actively defend the absent, playing the “devil’s advocate” quite often. At the end of this article I’ll place some links to other earlier stories on this blog that fall in line with how Dyer has influenced and touched my life.

When Dyer released “Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life” his book tour come through Denver Colorado. As a birthday gift my wife got us tickets to the event and I was quite excited. I wrote him and to my surprise he wrote back saying he was looking forward to meeting me. I couldn’t stop smiling through the entire talk. He signed the books we had brought and I had my first chance to talk to him directly. As the next few years rolled on I took any chance to see him I could, seven in all. Three at “Mile Hi Church” here in town, once at the Budweiser Event Center, once at a two-day Hay House seminar for publishing called “Writing for your Soul” held at the Brown Palace in 2013, and lastly at the 2014 “I Can Do It!” retreat at the Denver convention center. At his last Mile Hi appearance before the writer’s seminar I gave him a portrait of Deepak Chopra I had done as a gift. At the writer’s seminar he told me he had sent it to Chopra. I had done an earlier portrait of his daughter Skye and in return he sent me her CD and a copy of his movie. Here is a link (from this blog) to a photo of my picture of Dr. Chopra.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/09/21/another-example-of-my-artwork/

I suppose my favorite title of his is “There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem.” The point in the audio book at which he speaks of the little boy being befriended by his teacher tears me up every time. If you’ve heard it I’m sure you empathize. While I don’t have every book he put out, both in print and audio, it’s dang close. I even own a textbook he co-wrote before “Erroneous Zones.”  I haven’t read THAT one; yet.

While I will miss him, just like the rest of us, I know he finished his work and has moved on to a greater purpose.

Here are the older links from this blog that mention his influence on my life.

This address kindness over being right.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/07/07/the-strength-of-compassion/

This talks about becoming independent of the good opinion of others.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/12/10/coming-full-circle/

Here I share Dyer’s influence on how I now see others.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/12/24/a-change-of-perspective/

Exercising one of Dyer’s lessons.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/01/25/in-search-of-beauty/

About leaving the past in the past.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/03/07/44-change-your-life-lose-your-luggage/

How we become what we think.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/06/06/63-fire-and-water/

Repeating an experiment I heard Dr. Dyer perform. You should like this one.

https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2014/08/21/69-spiritual-or-religious/

Just like the rest of us I feel an urge to share following Dyer’s passing. I hope this entry does not come across as self-serving in any way.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

76. SO CLOSE TO GIVING UP…….

agony-invert

I’ve been in a horrible place since December 10, 2014. I’ve done my best to keep up a positive attitude and honestly I know all will turn out wonderful in some weird, unexpected way. What I originally thought was a minor back injury (I thought it was a kidney stone) turned out to be something much more severe. As diagnosis came in and possibilities were eliminated it became clear I was being pushed to a place I’d never anticipated. Apparently between my fourth and fifth lumbar in my back there is a bulge in the disc that is cutting off the nerve endings to my left side. Wasn’t that bad at first. Along with not being able to lift anything (other than pizza…) it disturbed my sleep and kept me from normal chores. I had a lot of vacation built up anyway, so even though I was reluctant to use it, at least I had something to fall back on.

As Christmas came and went so did my rosy outlook for January. The pain was getting worse and my vacation was running out. I don’t want to sound too graphic here, but it felt like I was constantly being violently kicked in the groin while a knife was sticking out of my back just to the left of the initial injury. I reluctantly asked my wife to buy me a cane so I could at least walk to the bathroom and bedroom. I’m in recovery from alcoholism. For anyone new to this blog that’s what the whole damn thing is about anyway, recovery and self-help. (Here is a link to my blog introduction https://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/05/02/self-help-for-beginners-welcome-to-my-blog/) I’ve been through a lot of crap; a lot of it life threatening,  but I’ve never been through like what was to come.

I applied for my short-term disability if this scenario were to prolong itself. After going in for a CAT scan at the behest of my Doctor, the determination was made to give me a steroid injection in my spine. Unfortunately this was about two weeks away and the pain was becoming unbearable. It became very difficult to shower and even maintain some sort of hygienic dignity. Migraines set in for a constant ride and are still here. Most of the time I have a bag of ice on my head. The nights offer a slight comfort for an hour or two then into the living room where I proceed to scream my ass off for at least ninety minutes. The meds prescribed to me I DO NOT WANT, but what can I do? Oxy and Valium. Ugh. Can’t take anything with Tylenol in it, that pushes my migraines int to the upper stratosphere. Won’t allow anything with alcohol either. So what do I do? Suffer, and suffer, and suffer.

Two weeks later I went in for my injection and for about three hours I felt completely normal. That was the “Novocaine” shot they gave me prior to the primary shot. Three hours later back to square one, but, the Doctors informed me it would take 3-4 days to work. Didn’t happen, in fact it started getting much worse. I started falling, even with the cane. My wife works during the day and sometimes she spends her lunch hour at home. Most of the time all I want is plain old unconsciousness. Imagine having a hangover that never, ever stops. This is what I’ve been going through.

We went to a specialist next and they recommended surgery. They spelled it out what was going to happen. We both agreed on their recommendations and tomorrow at three thirty in the afternoon we will see if the procedure will have any impact. It’s been another LONG two weeks.

Last Thursday was the worst. Yelling at the top of my lungs for three hours in the middle of the night while I’m flopping around in my recliner; willing to do ANYTHING to induce some sort state of comfort as my wife stands over me weeping and not knowing what to do is never a future I would have imagined. She feels so helpless and yet she has no idea how much she actually helps. I could not have gotten through this without her. She is my friend, my lover, and my angel.

This has been difficult in more ways than I’ve expected. I’ve worked since I was very young, never having been away from some sort of paid responsibilities for more than perhaps two weeks in a row. I’m very active, such is the life of a construction worker. A few short weeks ago I was on twelve-foot ladders with 24″ pipe wrenches cranking on twenty-one foot long steel pipes. I was in crawl spaces flicking off cock roaches while installing 4″ cast iron waste pipe. Now I can’t get out of bed and to top it all off I’ve gained forty pounds since this put me down. IF all goes well, I am to have an eight week recovery before I can even go back to work. It is a humbling experience but I wish the better man this is going to make me didn’t have such a high price.

At some level I MUST give up. Not on life, mind you, but on my power over what’s happening to me. “Let Go, Let God” is ingrained into my mind through both my program and experience; and yet still I fight it. To drop all and trust in the universe to hand me what I need the most sometimes takes leaps of faith into my own mirages of the worst  futures that can be imagined. Tomorrow; written by me and acted be me, has never happened, and it never will.

Am I close to throwing in the towel? Yes. Let’s just go ahead and do it and see what happens.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

 

Enough Is Enough

51. GHOST STORY

ghost

This is a tale of supernatural coincidence. It is the story of a miracle, and I swear every word is 100% true.

Day 1

A few years ago, around 2005, I decided to find out how my AA sponsor was doing. It had been some time since hearing from him and didn’t quite know where he was since I hadn’t written down his address. His phone had been disconnected as well.  This didn’t surprise me because the last time we spoke he’d mentioned cutting back on non-essential bills now that he was in retirement with  a limited income.  I’d visited his apartment since he moved, but couldn’t recall exactly where it was. The general vicinity was known, however I wasn’t about to go around randomly looking, hoping to recognize it. I found a web site designed for locating people and paid for some information, which to my surprise, proved quite useful. The following Saturday morning I set out to see my friend. My spirits were dampened upon arriving, it was a security building; hadn’t remembered that. After trying Joe’s number for several minutes without an answer I randomly tapped on several other buzzers hoping the occupants wouldn’t get too mad; there was no response. I then spent the good part of an hour trying to figure out how to get word to him some other way and was finally rewarded with a chance to approach a tenant who was leaving. Gathering my groveling skills I pleaded shortly with the gentleman to let me in so I might at least leave a note on his door. The first synchronicity was about to happen. The man was living in the apartment Joe had occupied. He suggested talking to the property manager and maybe she could give me some information on his whereabouts. It was a couple of buildings over, and I found the office with little effort. I called the number on the door and left a message that went something like this, “You don’t know me but I’m a friend of Joe Patton. He used to live here and I can’t find him. I know you don’t have to, but could you please call me and let me know if you remember him and if he is ok?” I left her my number not expecting a reply since I’d asked for information of a personal nature.

Day 2

On Sunday morning around 8:00 a.m. I received a call from the manager of the apartment complex. She was very kind, more than helpful, and a little sad. I had a slight suspicion what was wrong. She told me Joe had committed suicide about a year and a half prior.  My response to the news was surprising. A peace settled over me and I was happy for him. The funny thing was, I didn’t think I would react that way. By no means did I agree with his actions, but I felt I understood them. He had said some time back he may be going into hospice. I thought he was exaggerating his situation, not out of rudeness or insensitivity, but because he always acted and moved with such a healthy swagger. Obviously this had not been the case. After looking at his situation from the point of view of an addict, I could understand why it made sense to him. He had left a lifetime of dependencies in his wake and when suddenly faced with the possibility of leaving this world full of drugs that would violate his ethics, then the option of self-termination became a justifiable alternative. I’d read years ago that suicide is actually a crime, so I surmised calling the police might yield more information. My goal was to pay respects to wherever his remains were. They told me that obvious suicides are not crimes and are simply handled by the coroner’s office. I sent off an e-mail with all the information I had asking if they could let me know anything else about Joe. Synchronicity number two was about to happen. That night I went to my basement and got online to relax. Literati is a generic version of Scrabble I used play almost every day on Yahoo! While playing I would usually turn on my “personal” radio station through a now defunct web site called Launchcast. It was a music service that allowed the listener evaluate songs, albums, and artists. Given enough time, 90% of what streamed would become whatever the user had  graded. At this point I had around 5000 ratings, more than enough to cater very personally to me. For the most part every tenth song or so was either a new release or something that the system had guessed matched my preferences.  About half a dozen times or so (at this point, for the last year and a half) a soundtrack had popped up  that never matched my tastes or had anything on it I’d approved. This was the music to Joe’s favorite movie. It’s called “Last of the Dogmen.” It was released in the mid nineties and it’s about a lost tribe of American Indians found in modern times. Well…….as I was playing online that night, here it came. The name of the track was, “Somebody’s out There.” The hair on the back of my neck went up, not out of fear but recognition of what was going on. I was alone and looked around slowly to see if anything was moving or if I could actually glimpse an apparition of some sort. I didn’t notice anything and didn’t have to. I slept very well that night.

Day 3

It’s Monday morning now, and another phone call came, this time around nine. There was a kind and sympathetic person on the other end. Within a few minutes the Coroner had given me all the details he could about Joe. He told me how he died and that one of his friends had taken care of the funeral arrangements. I knew he couldn’t give me any private information about Joe’s friend for obvious reasons, but instead asked if he could call the man in question and give him my number. He said he would be very happy to try and I said goodbye thinking it wouldn’t work. (I would have been upset if I hadn’t tried.) Within three minutes there was yet another call from a man named Chris.  We talked for a while and came to the end of the road metaphorically speaking. He told me his ashes were spread in a park near Boulder. Chris was most compassionate and he seemed happy that someone still cared for Joe. And that was it….I thought. Synchronicity number three was about to bear down like a locomotive. As usual that night I was in the basement playing my game to unwind while listening to music when Joe’s soundtrack popped up again. Two days in a row for something that had never been listened to or rated? Now it was weird enough it played the night before, but this was way too specific to be considered some sort of random event. The title of this particular track was “Leaving Forever” Hmm. Now……….the next song was one that actually had been rated years before but not heard yet. Queen released an album in 1980 called “The Game” it was extremely popular at the time and being a fan of the group I had marked all the tracks as high as possible. The song that started playing next was called “Don’t try Suicide.” What a way to say farewell. I leaned back in my chair without needing to look around for any physical evidence of his presence and said out loud, “Good-bye, Joe.”  

Is he gone now? No. I still ask him for his opinions; I still ask him for guidance; I still ask him for his presence; and while my prayers may not be answered in ways I can verify or explain, they are indeed always answered. I miss my friend even though I know he’s never really left. This story is for you Joe, rest in peace.  

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

40. A VERY SHORT STORY…..

short story 001

16. A HOLIDAY STORY

bell 4

Once upon a time…..

This is a little out of season, but I suppose it is Christmas in July. It’s one of my favorite stories, and it’s as true as I can tell it.

In 1983, I was a teenager working at a local mall in the Denver metro area, Southglenn; for those of you old and close enough to remember. In any case, my minimum wage duties included a lot of cleaning, so as a result I walked the entire circuit several times a night. The holiday season was upon us, and the parking lots were full, as was every store.  Although we were in the middle of a bitter cold wave (the temperature had been dropping to 20 below for two weeks and had never risen above zero), this didn’t deter the bustling crowds. The place was as packed as I had ever seen. The frozen conditions outside didn’t seem to be keeping the shoppers from being cheerful and courteous. Their good mood served to elevate mine.

As usual for this time of year there was a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army standing by the main entrance to the mall. His efforts at collecting weren’t meeting with much success, and I’m sure this, along with the temperature, served to dampen his resolve.  It’s not that people weren’t in the spirit of giving, it’s just that they wanted to get inside and away from the weather as quickly as possible. As the day progressed he decided to move his operation indoors. I didn’t blame him. There was, however, an unexpected reaction to his new location. The part of the mall where he had relocated was two stories high and wide open, so in essence it was a large chamber; an echo chamber if you get where I’m going with this. The poor fella went from being cold and ignored to center stage and annoying. Frustrated that his new location was even less profitable, he packed up and left.

Later that day, as I was completing yet another lap around the mall, I happened to be upstairs on the balcony over where the man had previously been standing. He was back and all set-up, bucket and Santa outfit, but no bell. He was waving something around, and most people were dropping money as they passed by. I was too far away to clearly see what exactly was going on, so I decided to take a closer look.

When I got downstairs it became obvious that this man came up with an ingenious solution to the predicaments of the day. Across from where he was standing was a toy store. Apparently he had gone in and bought one of those annoying paddle games; the one where there’s a rubber ball attached to an elastic cord. It’s singular function was to bounce it back and forth on itself like a sideways yo-yo.  Well, he definitely changed its purpose, and he vastly improved upon it in my opinion. After removing the ball and cord, he had taken the paddle itself and written on it in black marker “DING DONG.” He was joyously waving this around for all to see, much to the delight of those passing by. I couldn’t stop smiling. The bucket was packed full of money.

Every Christmas when I see those persistent bell ringers, I always think of the one man who seemed to please both the crowd and his purpose. If I ever see the act repeated, I’m going to have a genuine urge to drop in my paycheck. I’ve been convinced since then that without a doubt, silence truly is golden.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood