Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: AS EASY AS PIE (12/01/16)
- TITLE: Same Song, Second Verse
By Virgil Youngblood
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“Wow. News travels fast. I better watch my P’s and Q’s.”
Alfonso beamed, congratulating himself. He was usually right. “Or dye your hair. I haven’t heard of another red-headed new-comer in town. He threw an apron over me and wrapped a band of tissue around my neck to keep the trimmings out of my collar. “Why’d you select my shop instead of Joe’s?”
“Blame it on some old geezer. His truck was parked cock-eyed beside the welcome monument at the edge of town. I stopped to see if he had car trouble. Turned out, he was picking up beer cans that had been bounced off the sign, throwing them into the bed of his truck.”
“Yeah, he does that most Monday mornings.”
“He was on the thin side with a scruffy old orange ball cap scrunched down over his ears. I didn’t think he would make much off of those cans, so I gave him five dollars and told him to get a burger on me. He grinned like I had said something funny. He said wouldn’t do that, but he’d put it to good use. He was a strange duck, I’ll tell you.”
“That ‘fella had a long pony tail, didn’t he?”
“Yeah, he did. I don’t imagine he’s a customer of yours, though. As I was leaving, as a joke, I asked if he could recommend a barber shop. He said you would give me a good haircut. Talking to that guy was a hoot, sure enough.”
“Pete, you just did one of the easiest things in the world to do, but you’re a lucky fellow.”
“What are you talking about Alfonso?”
“Well, we all do it. I think it just comes naturally until we learn better.” Alfonso punched on the clippers and the hum in my ear made me speak a little louder.
“Don’t keep me in suspense. What exactly is it I did? Why am I lucky?”
Alfonso didn’t say anything for a minute, concentrating on his work. He probably didn’t want to make a mistake on a new customer.
Alfonso laid the clippers down and picked up scissors, snipping here and there. “Pete, you misjudged that man. He’s a whole lot more than how you sized him up.”
“He wasn’t too proud to take my five dollars.”
“No, and he’ll put it in his rainy day account to help others that need it. Same as the money he’ll get out of those cans he picks up. ‘A penny earned is a penny saved,’ he often says.”
“You’re saying he doesn’t need the money I gave him.”
“That he doesn’t. He’s a retired banker and one of the nicest men you will ever meet. When my dad died I had to drop out of high school to support my mother and brother. He heard about it and paid my way to Tuck’s Barber College. He owns this building and a lot of other businesses in town including the bank. He didn’t charge me rent for six months.” Alfonso removed the apron, adding red to the pile.
“Pete, you just met Mr. Kay. He owns the company where you work.”
I had gotten out of the chair and was reaching for my wallet. I sank back down like a melted candle, inhaling deeply. “I can’t afford to lose my job,” I exclaimed. “Alfonso, he will probably fire me.”
Alfonso smiled, his strong grip helping me out of the chair. “Mr. Kay knows who you are, just like I do. I’m sure he got a kick out of you giving him five dollars and appreciated your offer of help. He doesn’t hold grudges or think too highly of himself. He’ll know you will be embarrassed when you figure out who he is.
“You learned a lesson about judging people and it only cost you five dollars and swallowing a little pride. As I said, you’re a lucky guy.”
Stepping outside my phone chimed. “Hi, Pete,” my wife said. “I saw an old man with a pony-tail outside K’s hardware. I asked him if he would be interested in a window washing ….
“Linda, you didn’t…..”
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