Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: The Reader (04/15/10)
TITLE: Yellow Birds
By Sharon Eastman
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Leary eyes examined the official envelope. It was emblazoned with the company logo, and it looked formidable. Bill ripped the seal with one last moment of optimism. After a three month lay-off perhaps the company was finally calling him back. Tears soon filled his eyes as he slowly read their judgment – TERMINATED. Although he could hardly read the word, he knew what it meant. He had lost his job.
Times were tough, and Bill knew this could happen. When reality struck, it hit him like a sucker punch. After all the long hours he had worked with dedication to the company,
how could they let him go? How would he tell his family?
The recession hit his working class neighborhood like dynamite. Most were laid-off temporarily while some were permanently TERMINATED. There was that awful word again.
Words – the trouble he had reading words was part of the puzzle of losing employment. He could usually camouflage his handicap, but it was discovered when the company secretary attempted to teach him the computer. Bill was illiterate in the computer and everything else. There was a fancy name for it these days, dyslexia. In all his 62 years he never had the enjoyment of reading a newspaper, book, or magazine. He was able to comprehend and read some bills and home business papers, but it took a long intense time to do so.
Bill knew his dyslexia crippled his working performance. Foremen and supervisors sent important messages via computer, and he was unable to handle this task. Until now he could mask his handicap by working extra hard, being disciplined, having leadership ability, owning a powerful memory, and having an optimistic spirit. He was also goal oriented and well organized. But, this time all those qualities failed trumped by reading and computer knowledge. The recession didn’t help matters either.
This termination awakened all the memories he had of all his reading failures. The first jolt that he was “different”’ came in elementary school. The teacher, Miss Hastings, taught the children to pronounce the sounds of the letters that eventually formed words. Try as he might, he just couldn’t obtain this skill. Soon the children were divided into reading groups. Bill was placed in the Yellow Birds, the slowest readers group. He tried to sound out the words, but he just couldn’t. “Ted and Sally” became a nightmare for him. Soon he had tutors in school. The worst humiliation was taking the little yellow bus to a special school.
Bill’s self-esteem sank to the lowest depths. He knew he was “different” because of his reading disability. The other kids teased and provoked him because he was an oddity. He became rebellious and obnoxious at school receiving all the negative attention he could.
Home life became even more distressful. His parents only had eighth grade educations, and they couldn’t empathize with the problems Bill endured. His dysfunctional father would yell and holler when report card time arrived. “Study harder, Stupid,” his father would yell, but the yelling couldn’t rectify a genetic problem. The lack of his father’s approval devastated his heart and soul.
The professionals 50 years ago didn’t label this handicap, nor did they know how to treat it. The suffering ones were just written off and labeled “Stupid” by fellow classmates.
Bill made it through school and graduated with his class. He finally obtained their acceptance by his exceptional talent in art and architectural design. He won many distinguished awards for this skill. His parents and teachers encouraged him to attend college, which he did for a while. His talent won the good attention of his teachers, but his illiteracy caused him problems in Liberal Arts classes. He vividly remembered his enlistment in the Marines after that, and he learned survival skills that helped him to this very day.
With a sorrowful sigh Bill crumpled this letter and tore the envelope. He laid his head on the table and tears began to flow. He was TERMINATED. But, his life would proceed to better ground. He knew the Lord would provide, and the Lord had a special plan for him. He would overcome this adversity with the Lord’s strength, confidence, and optimism. And, some day he’d conquer the computer despite his DYSLEXIA.
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