By Danny Jones
Monday, September 23, 2013
The nicely dressed old man was sitting on one end of a park bench when I asked if he minded if I sat on the other end.
It had been a long work week and I thought the stroll in the sunshine would do me some good.
"I used to be like you," said the old man. Startled, I said, "Excuse me?"
"I used to be like you. I had the same worry lines."
He continued, "I worried about everything. I watched as the economy turned the industry I worked in upside down. I watched business--or lack of it--turn friendships into rivalries as everyone was chasing the same few dollars. I watched as people clawed their way over each other to get to the top. Then I watched them bare their fangs as they tried to stay on top, and then I watched them worry about losing everything.
"Then I watched as they were miserable as they found themselves miserable when they slipped from the top and found out the people were stepped on before didn't know them now."
Then he stopped and looked wistfully toward the skies.
"I tried to warn them," he said quietly.
Confused, I said "Go on"
"I tried to warn them," he said again. "I tried to tell them to slow down. I tried to tell them that throwing away longtime relationships and friendships for a few measly dollars was not worth it. I tried to tell them that the world will be a lonely place when they've thrown all that away just so they could 'win.'"
The old man sat silently for a few minutes. Finally I asked, "What kind of business were you in?"
"It doesn't matter," he replied. "Everything I just said can be applied to any business. There are really no exceptions."
Trying to keep the conversation going I asked, "So what do you do now?"
"I just rely on my Social Security check and every now and then I pick up an odd job now and then. In fact I must be going now to one of those jobs."
"To do what?"
"I help out at the funeral home. When there are not enough people to serve as pallbearers, they call me."
"With all due respect sir, aren't you a little old to be a pallbearer?"
"Probably," he said.
And then he sighed as a little tear rolled down his cheek.
"I really did," he said softly once more. "I tried to warn them."
You've probably heard similar stories before and while this particular story is one that I've picked up along the way from other people, the message is not the story itself.
It's what the old man tried to warn them about...