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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Empty Nester/Retirement (from work) (09/10/09)

TITLE: Just Not Fair
By Donna Powers


Hi, Pastor Ned. Thanks for seeing me.

No problem, Ernie. What can I do for you?

Well, Pastor, I donít want to sound like a clichť, but Iím having trouble adjusting to my retirement.

What seems to be the problem?

I just donít know what to do with myself all day. Itís been three months now and I still find myself waking up at 5 am and wondering whatís going on at the store.

Well, Ernie, you did work there for forty years.

Yes Ė and I expected some kind of adjustment period. But I still feel so restless. For every day of those forty years I got up, drove to the store and worked hard. I was in charge of that whole place. For forty years, I knew who I was supposed to be. Now? The highlight of my day is reading what Marmaduke says in the funnies.

Well, isnít there anything you could do around the house? Yard work, making repairs Ö help with the housework?

I wish. We live in one of those condos where the landlord does the yard work and repairs. As for the housework, Leola says Iím driving her batty; getting in her way.

Oh, I see. Well, what about Carol and Matt and those wonderful grandkids of yours?

Iíd love to see them, Pastor, but theyíve moved to Connecticut and Leolaís not up to the trip right now.

Well, Ernie Ö I can see why you feel restless and upset.

Pastor, itís just that Ö for forty years I did something useful. I was the store manager. I was the head of my team. I felt as though Godís purpose for my life was in that store: keeping the inventory up to date, leading the sales team, stocking the shelves and making sure our customers got what they needed. Whatís Godís purpose for me, now? To stack the recyclables neatly, do the crossword puzzle and drive my wife crazy? I surely hope not.

I see what youíre saying.

Itís just thatÖ I donít get it. Just because Iím a certain age, the company judges me incapable of my job. They look at my grey hair and say, ďhit the road, Ernie.Ē Iím the same guy, with the same brain and the same personality inside. But they donít see that. All they see is my age. Age is just a number; but for them; itís all that counts. How fair is that?

Itís not, Ernie.

No, Pastor, itís just not fair. But what can I do?

Well, ErnieÖ I think Iíve got the answer for you.

What is it, Pastor?

Itís our Youth Center: we need workers and coaches.

Youíre kidding, Pastor. You mean that place where all those scruffy teenagers hang out and ride their skateboards?

Yes, thatís the place. Those kids need coaches and leaders who can teach them a thing or two about business and the real world. Youíd be perfect.

You actually want me to help those young ruffians take over the world? Why should I waste my time on them? None of the young kids who worked at the store were understood responsibility; all they wanted was their paychecks so they could buy designer clothes and party. All the young people are like that, these days. And you want me to help those worthless punks?

But, Ernie Ö. Theyíre not worthless to God.

Well, sure, I suppose thatís true Ö but Iíve seen the way those bums look. They wear dirty, ripped pants that hang halfway down their hips and they have more holes in their faces than a pegboard. They drink and they smoke Ė and I donít mean just Camels. They swear and they steal; not a one of them respects themselves.

But, donít you think thatís the very reason we need to reach out to them, with Godís love?

Youíre saying I should help them? Itís kids like those who are responsible for tossing me out of my job. I canít see myself helping them. I need to find a purpose to my life again; not a hopeless cause.

WellÖ I guess if thatís how you see it.

Thatís how I see it.

OK, Ernie. Letís pray together. Iím sure God has your solution.

I sure hope so. After all, I just want someone to look beyond my age and appearance and give me a chance.

I understand, Ernie. After all, anyone would want that.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Charla Diehl 09/18/09
So many retirees go through the struggles your MC is having here. This story flowed nicely and the dialog was authentic. The ending lines wrapped this up perfectly. Do unto others. . .
Allen Stark09/18/09
Nice bottom line, however, I'm not sure Ernie got it. If some people could only look past the exterior and not look at what is, but what could be. Intentionally look for the good, and celebrate who our young people are in the process of becoming rather than focusing on what they aren't.
Mona Purvis09/19/09
Ernie sure is a whiner. This pastor has so much patience.
Beth LaBuff 09/22/09
Wow! What a great message in the 750 (or less) words! I hope he wakes up. He could help a lot. Good work on this!
Shilo Goodson09/23/09
As I was reading this, I was wondering how you were going to bring it to a satisfying conclusion. You did an excellent job, though. That final line captures the essence of the story as well as the feelings that many of us feel no matter our age.
Holly Westefeld09/24/09
Donna, this is superb use of irony! I wonder how long it will take for his hypocrisy to sink in.