"We all have the extraordinary
coded within us, waiting to be released."
Here is a short story I wrote many years ago. It might just make your day.
'It's Bin A Pleasure' (c)
He’d spent all day searching for work. Heading home with no good news, his beaten-up
old car hissed and farted along the muddy road, the wipers singing a tune he’d
rather not hear. He’d spent every day looking for work since the factory had
closed but he was still positive. Something would eventually present itself. Sooner
rather than later he hoped. It was Christmas and money was tight. Any work
would have been better than social security. He was committed to finding
something – anything. Not only to feed his family, but also for his own
integrity. What others thought of him was unimportant. What was important was
what he felt inside, that feeling of self-satisfaction and a sense of personal
achievement. Sure, he could have taken his family to the city, but living there
didn’t really appeal. The city conjured up visions of hell and frustration.
Some of his friends had made the ultimate sacrifice and left the serenity of
the bush to head for the bright lights of suburbia. None of them were happy.
They told him on a regular basis.
He continued on at a safe speed, noticing landmarks he’d seen countless times. After all, it was a road he knew well, having travelled down it so often since he was a boy. Just on the right was the old Gernan home that burned to the ground decades ago. Around the next corner would be the old dairy with the crooked roof.
‘Why on earth would I want to leave a place I know and love? God, Mum and Dad are buried here. That must stand for something,’ he muttered as snowflakes made the wiper blades work harder.
Turning at Sharp’s Corner, he almost collided with a blue Jaguar parked on the
shoulder. Standing beside it was an elderly woman, obviously in trouble. He
pulled over and came to a halt some metres in front of her vehicle. Little did
he know she’d been standing there for the past hour, hoping and praying someone
would pass. She smiled wanly as he got out of his car. Deep inside, a part of
her was petrified. It was the first time she’d been stranded. Squinting at the
man, her mind visited a million strange and awful places she’d seen in horror
movies. He looks weary and down and out. But maybe, just maybe, he’s an angel in disguise, she thought.
Grabbing his cap and reliable old coat he slammed the door and trudged slowly back to the elderly woman. He could tell she was nervous, cold and frustrated. It was etched into her face. She also looked well heeled, wearing polished boots and a long leather coat.
‘Evenin’, maam. In trouble are ya?’ She folded her arms and frowned.
‘Yes. I think I have a flat tyre on the far side,’ she nervously replied, pointing blindly.
‘I see. Well. Why don’t ya pop in the car and get outta the weather. I’ll take a look at it for ya. Me name’s Bob. Nice to meet ya.’
‘Hi, Bob,’ she said with a smile, quickly took his advice and found the comfort of her car.
Satisfied the woman was out of the weather, he inspected the vehicle then opened the boot and retrieved the spare tyre, carefully hidden under plush carpet provided by the famous Jaguar company. He’d never changed a tyre on a Jag before but he had enough knowledge to work out where the Jack fitted. ‘Thank God the spare’s full of air,’ he murmured and set to work.
The flat tyre was off and the spare was fitted in ten cold, dirty minutes. As the last nuts were being finger-tightened, the woman lowered the window on the passenger side. ‘I’m so grateful for your help, Bob. This weather is frightful. I feel so awful. I’m in here while you are out there repairing my vehicle. I’m ever so thankful to you.’
He looked up. ‘Think nothin’ of it. It had to be done, eh?’ Minutes later he sighed. With the punctured tyre in the boot of the car, he slammed the lid and wiped his grubby hands on his jacket. ‘All fixed, maam. You drive carefully now. Don’t forget to get the spare fixed as soon as ya can.’
‘Thanks, Bob. How much do I owe you for your kindness? I must owe you something for your help,’ she said, noticing black smudge marks on his face and snowflakes on his cap and the shoulders of his jacket.
He rubbed his whiskered chin and offered a gentle smile. ‘Nothin’at all. But … maybe next time ya see someone who needs a hand … see what ya can do for ‘em. It’s bin a pleasure ... merry Christmas.’
‘But … ‘
‘No buts, maam. Take care now ... and happy new year to you and your family.’
Stepping back, he waited for her to drive off before he slid into his own vehicle and grinned as it cranked over first time. Although it had been a dirty job, he smiled inwardly and pressed on towards home, always pleased to help someone in trouble, especially city folks.
* * *
Parking the Jaguar, she hurried up the steps to grab a cup of coffee. It had been such an awful day until she met Bob. The general store stood alone in the miserable weather, but she refused to chance another fifty kilometres before another one appeared and soon found a seat close to an old-fashioned heater. Within seconds, a very-pregnant waitress
appeared with a menu and a welcome, steamy face-towel to freshen things up.
‘Evening. What can I get you?’
‘Hello. Just a black coffee please.’
Steaming coffee arrived within minutes. It was hot and presented with a genuine smile.
‘You’re welcome.’ As the waitress returned to her chores, the owner of the Jaguar admired her for working so late in such a lonely part of the world. She also admired her friendly attitude and service. Strangely, the name Bob came to mind.
The coffee was not only hot, it was also good quality. Wanting to press on, she paid her bill with a $100 dollar note and quietly left the store as soon as the waitress ambled away to seek some change. Returning, the waitress noticed her customer had gone. On the table were two fifty-dollar notes resting beside an empty cup and a simple message had been
scrawled on a napkin.
Thank you. It’s bin a pleasure…merry Christmas.
After the tables had been wiped, rubbish removed and sugar bowls topped up, the waitress left around midnight. Preparing for bed, she recalled the words written by the mysterious woman who’d left her an almighty tip.
‘How could a complete stranger have known we needed the money, especially with a baby on the way?’ she whispered and crawled into bed. Smiling at her sleeping husband, she gently kissed him and whispered a message. ‘It’s going to be okay. Sweet dreams, Bob. Merry Christmas.’
(Copyright Clancy Tucker)
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Thanks for listening.
I'm Clancy Tucker.