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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Empty Nester/Retirement (from work) (09/10/09)

TITLE: The Best Boss of All
By Lauren Beck


John pulled into the last slot at the country club’s parking lot. Getting out of the car, he slung his club carrier over his shoulder. Skirting the edge of the club house, he deliberately ignored the puzzled glance of his usual caddy. He quickened his steps. No caddy today. He couldn’t afford it.

He selected a back trail leading far away from his favorite haunt. The familiar peals of laughter rang over the tall pines that framed the path. He was going away from the caddies, away from his friends, away from his troubles. He didn’t want to hear the questions.

“Did they tell you?”

“Yes,” he would reply.

“Well, what happened?”

“We’re bankrupt.” Here the glances would ricochet from face to face like a golf ball.

Politely, they would ask, “Can you refinance?”

“They’ll try, but they’ll have to let some go.”

Then, the faces would ask, “And you?”

Instead, he would lie, “But I’ve retired. The small banking industry has grown too small for me. I’m ready for a change.”

But he knew, and they would know the truth behind his boasts. In reality, he had been fired in all but name. At least he had been given the saving decency of hiding behind the word “retirement”. At sixty-one and with molding skills from the past, no one would want him. Unable to compete with the younger and more aggressive, he had been forced, forced into a life that held nothing but a skimpy 401k and twenty-five years of wasted energy poured into his company.

John ground his peg into the turf with his foot.

“Excuse me.” John jerked sharply and turned around. A smiling man in a golf-shirt and iron-gray hair extended his hand. “Saw another person alone back here and thought you might want to join me.”

Tentatively, John nodded. “Sure; it’s better with two.” A little reluctantly, he picked up his golf bag. He wasn’t totally appreciative of his new company.

“Guess you wanted to escape the gossip too?” The man grinned and his frank blue eyes crinkled.

John looked up in mild surprise. “Why, yes.” He hesitated before he muttered, “Back here one can escape.”

The man nodded understandingly. On impulse, John ventured further. “Today, I couldn’t take it.”

“Take what?” asked the man.

“Take the false pity and looks behind my back that come when a man loses his job after twenty-five years!” It was out. Could he voice the frustration, hurt, and betrayal? He forced out the thought that had stabbed him every minute since he walked out of the office. “I thought my boss was my friend.” He stumbled a little on the words.

“My boss understands being betrayed,” the man said quietly, then added, “by a close friend.”

“So…,” said John with raised eyebrows, “he has felt it too?”

“Yes. And not only that, he takes in people who have been betrayed by everything and hires them.”

John listened. Careful not to show too much interest, he asked a safe question. “What kind of benefits do you have?”

“Oh, they’re incredible. He has even secured an inheritance for me.” John eyed him incredulously.

“Just what I need,” he said cynically, “My boss didn’t even give me my pension. Retirement is supposed to be a state of rest and relaxation, but without money…” John shrugged.

“My boss hires permanently, provides everything you’ll need and offers rest.”

“How can you rest when you’re supposed to be working?” John burst out, baffled and confused.

The man merely smiled. John turned away unable to understand. From behind the man continued, “He says, ‘Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’** He gives the rest that all the pensions in world can not buy.” With the words came a swift flash of understanding.

Onto the concrete path, the morning sun’s rays touched the tip of John’s shoe where he was staring. A brighter light was beginning to shine upon John’s path. John turned around and met squarely the man’s steady gaze. “Suppose you tell me about your Boss,” he said.

** Matthew 11:28 (NKJV)

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