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Topic: The Importance of Being Earnest (not about the play) (08/04/11)
TITLE: An Earnest Life
By Michelle Meyers
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The bus pulled to a stop in front of him with a screech of the brakes. Ernest climbed the stairs, showing his special pass to the driver, who greeted him as he did every morning, “Good day to you, Mr. Anderson.” Ernest responded, “Good day to you too” as was his habit. He then settled into the seat directly behind the driver because his Mom told him it was the best place to sit. He stared out the window as the bus traveled its daily route to the store. Ernest craned his neck to catch sight of the golden lab at the yellow house on the corner. Dogs made him smile. Someday maybe he would have one of his own.
“Good-bye, enjoy your day,” Ernest said to the driver as he stepped off the bus. He liked to be polite as his Mom had taught him. He walked through the automatic doors of the grocery store, loving the whooshing sound they made. He went down the hallway marked “Employees only” and scanned the rack for his time card. Anderson, right on top, easy to find. He checked in, and then made his way to the checkouts. The store manager passed him, and smiled saying “Right on time. Thank you Ernest for always being punctual.” Ernest smiled and nodded. He walked the length of the checkouts to register 1 to report to the supervisor. “Can you go out and get carts?” she asked him. “Good morning Sharon,” he said “Yes, I’ll get carts.” Ernest really liked his job. He looked forward each day to meeting people and helping them by putting the grocery bags into their trunks just right. He always asked them if he had done a good job and they almost always said yes. The store was close to the place he lived now too. He had become used to the group home, and had even made a friend who like putting together jigsaw puzzles as much as he did. Mrs. Morris, the lady who owned the home, was always smiling and gentle, and she never served Ernest broccoli which he hated.
But his favorite day of the week was Sunday when his Mom would drive over and pick him up for church. They had gone on Sunday mornings to the Shepard on the Hill church as long as he could remember. His Dad used to go too but he had died 3 years earlier. Ernest missed him. The church always felt warm, and he liked to sit next to his Mom and listen to the music and the Pastor talking. It made him feel good. But once when he was younger a boy in the Sunday school had called him dumb. That had bothered him and he told his Mom on the way home. She had sighed deeply and told him that wasn’t true and not to pay any attention to talk like that. His Mom explained to him that God had made Ernest all the ways that he was for good reasons, and that we might not understand why but that it was all for good. She said the world needs all different kinds of people in order for God’s plans to work out. “So believe in yourself Ernest,” she had said, “It’s important that you be you.” Her words had made him feel better.
He smiled as he gathered a row of carts and began pushing them toward the store. The sun had begun to peek out, warming everything in the grocery store parking lot. “Good morning Ernest,” a regular customer called to him. Ernest waved back. He carefully moved the string of carts into the vestibule, making sure to stay out of people’s way. He arranged each cart into a row, ready for customers to take when they came to shop. “Thank you, Ernest,” a middle-aged lady who shopped every Monday took a cart. He nodded, feeling good that he could do something for others. Ernest did have something important to give the world.
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