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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Handout (04/14/11)

TITLE: The Job
By dub W
04/18/11


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Jacob wasn’t looking for a handout; he just needed a job.

“Jacob, you have to get out of the house and start looking.” His mother stood over him scolding as only mothers can, but her tone was more pleading than angry. “Sitting here on the Internet is not the same as face to face.”

He turned in the computer chair. “Mom, like, you know, when I’m in town people won’t even look at me.”

“You’re imaging that, have you tried to say ‘hello’, or ‘good morning?’”

“Mr. McLean was even standing in the door of the store when I got gas and I wasn’t about to cross him. I know he hates me.”

His mother pulled a side chair up to the computer. “Denny and Cindy are hurting. You’re out on probation and Junior is still behind bars. You did your two years and Junior got more, you couldn’t control that.” She pulled her hair back. “In your trial even the judge said you were only an accessory, technically you didn’t do anything.”

“Technically, I shouldn’t have been there.” He pouted. “I think I need to move somewhere else.”

“So, where would you go?” His mother put a hand on the computer table.

“Somewhere they don’t know me?”

“Well, even if the probation officer would let you, the same problems would follow.” She touched his hands. “Stop by Religious Family Services today. They might have some ideas.”

“Okay mom. Okay.” He pulled his hands away.

Later that afternoon Jacob drove past the Religious Family Services office. He parked across the street from the old building. “I’ll open the door, tell the receptionist my name and leave before anyone else sees me.”

He got out of the car and trotted across the street. He shook the door, but it was locked. “Good,” he said. The door electronically clicked open. “Phooey.”

Jacob pulled the door open and was met by a rush of stale air. There was no receptionist sitting by the door, just a chair full of clothes.

A tall bearded man suddenly appeared out of an office. “Can I help you?”

Jacob stammered. “Uh, yeah, I mean no. See, my mom said to come here and so ….”

The man seemed a bit irritated. “So, are you bringing a donation?”

“No sir, I’m Jacob Stewart, and uh, you know, looking for a job.”

“Well, we only employ volunteers here. You need the unemployment office.” The man turned to speak to someone in office.

“My mom said you guys could help.” He watched as the man disappeared into the office. Then, Jacob called into the empty hallway, “I guess I’ll go.” He turned toward the door.

“Hey.” A woman’s voice called him.

Jacob spun around.

“Can you lift fifty pound boxes?” She put a hand on her hip.

“Yes, ma’am.” He almost said ‘in prison I worked out in the weight yard.’

“Good, you can help us on the truck.”

“Don’t I have to fill out a employment form?” In Jacob’s mind the form always disqualified him.

“Yep. Anything I should know? Like you kill somebody? You a child molester? You a druggie or a drunk?”

Jacob took a deep breath. This was where he usually got the cold shoulder. “I just got out of prison. I was in a meth house when it got busted. I’m on probation.”

She seemed to look through him. “You a user?”

“No ma’am.”

“I believe you. Fill out a W4 form. We pay minimum wage. But, we need a laborer. You wanna do that?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Listen.” Her voice got quiet. “We all have sinned. Jesus died for that fact. There isn’t anything you might have done in the past that the debt isn’t paid for. That’s God’s grace. It isn’t a handout; it’s a gift, freely given. All you have to do is accept it and say “thank you Jesus.”

He sat through chapel services in prison but never heard anyone other than a preacher say things like that. “You mean, you know, do I have to go to church to work here?”

The woman smiled. “No, but I think you will eventually. Come on in, we have a truck to load.”

Jacob walked into the office and saw an old desk where the woman was spreading out some papers.

A training certificate was framed over the desk. Jacob glanced at the scrolled writing. The certificate was awarded to Cynthia McLean.


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This article has been read 301 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Virgil Youngblood 04/22/11
The characters and dialog rang true and the ending was a nice surprise. I wanted to know why the McLeans were hurting, but that might have detracted from your well written story. Well done.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/23/11
This is a great story. It's hard not to judge someone by their past. Although I suspected the woman was the other's kids mother it was still a nice surprise ending.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/23/11
I also liked the message about where you are or who you hang out with can cause problems that you could never imagine and those decisions ripple outward and impact our family and friends.
Connie Dixon04/26/11
Well written story wtih a good message. I was a little confused by the ending, however.
Anita Vander Elst04/26/11
It's probably just that my brain is fuzzy but by the time I got to the end of the story I couldn't figure out why the name on the certificate was significant. Of course, once I re-read the story I started to make the name connections. Even with that little snag, I enjoyed reading it.
Linda Goergen04/26/11
My favorite part was the message that salvation is not a handout but a gift paid for by Jesus and freely given!!

The story around that message supported it and was an interesting weave. Enjoyed.
Colin Swann04/27/11
An interesting well written story about second chances - in a way it is God's handout to us: the Lord Jesus.
Debra Hindman04/27/11
I've seen women like this, and men, in my work at a soup kitchen. Your story is real and brought tears to my eyes and I thought of the love that can change a life...through acceptance and opportunity.