Monday, June 30, 2014

A Flawed Legacy - 21

We stopped in Oil City, OK, for breakfast, a place I will never forget.  I got off the bus, walked through the front door of the restaurant and was greeted by the waitress (there was only one) who exclaimed, "My, you look bright and chipper this morning" to which I replied, "I think I have just been born again'" to which she replied, "Well, praise the Lord.  Have a seat."  So, I did.  "What are we having for break-fast?" she asked.  Recalling that I only had $10 to my name at that moment, "I'll just have a cup of coffee."  "No way," she responded, "That's no meal for a man who has just been 'born again' - it's my treat,  Get whatever you want."  She seemed to realize I was embarrassed, so she added, "Never mind, you're my new brother and I'll get you what I know you will enjoy" and she was gone.

What a meal I had and what a hug I received as we were leaving.  I was embarrassed by the fact I wanted  to  leave a tip, but I only had the 50+ cents I had in coins in my pocket, but I also was excited by her confirmation that God had apparently reached my heart, by revealing hers.

After a brief stop in Oklahoma for an check on the engine of the bus, we would be late in arriving in Tulsa.  At this point, I was beginning to get nervous about meeting this "great man" of God, but there was no need to be concerned.  My call to the college revealed that this was graduation day, that he would be speaking and afterwards, he and his wife were leaving for three weeks on vacation.  What was I to do, how could I explain my reason for being in Tulsa, a long ways away from San Diego?

We had passed a "labor" office on our way into town, so I had not changed clothes.  I was still wearing jeans and a tee shirt, ready for work I reasoned, so I headed that way.  On my way, I noted an older hotel with a sign, "$10/night".  At least, I thought, I have a place to sleep.  The office was not unlike the offices I had run in California.  "Sign in, take a seat.  If you're lucky, you might get some work."  I took a look at my watch.  It was 10:30 in the morning and there were three other guys waiting.  I sat down.

Just before Two in the afternoon, the phone finally rang.  "Any of you guys good at counting?" the dispatcher asked and my hand flew up.  "Grab your bag and head for the truck," he yelled as I headed that way, "If you're not back here by 6PM, you'll have to wait to get paid in the morning."  That sounded like good news to me.

The job was only a few blocks away and John, my boss-to-be was waiting as I climbed out of the truck and asked, "Are you sure you can count?" he asked and I replied, "I'm a college graduate," to which he replied, "I didn't ask you that.  I asked if you could count."  "Yes, sir!"

It was a parts supplier for several manufacturers and you not only had to count the parts, you had to make sure the right parts were in the right bins.  I didn't realize it, but as I was finished with one row, I was sent to another on the opposite side of the warehouse.  What I did nor realize was that John was double-checking my work on the previous row.  After three rows, he called me into his office and explained, we have to finish this job by Friday afternoon.  "Can you work ever day?"  What he was asking, "Can I count on you to be here every day."  "Yes, sir!"

When they were ready to close, John noticed the bag I was carrying.  "New to town?" he asked, "Yes, sir!"   He explained that he knew the owner of the hotel I had seen, so he told me he would give me a ride to it, went inside with me and told the clerk, "Put Mr. MacRae's bill on my tab and I'll settle with you on Friday night."  "Yes, sir!" as he handed me the key to my room.   "Oh my," I thought, I can have something to eat, tonight."

John was there when I came out of my room and said, "Let's have breakfast." and we were on our way. For the next four days, that was the routine.  I still had the $10 bill as he had also paid for my breakfast and ran a tab for my evening meals.  He brought me lunch every day as he poured out his life to me as though I was interested, which I was, and he never asked me questions about my life.  We were finished with the inventory by Thursday evening and he brought me back on Friday to make some changes he had been wanting to make, but needed help in getting it down.  He signed my ticket by 3PM on Friday so I would be sure to get paid and gave me his card.  "If you ever need a job in Tulsa, see me.  I always need some sort of help."  When I got to the Labor office, I discovered I had a check waiting for me, 40 hours of work at $2.50/hour more than I expected and the dispatched had another job waiting for me on Monday morning.  When I got to the motel, I discovered my bill had been paid and a room had been reserved for me at the local YMCA.

I walked away, crying.  I had never ever been treated so well and I could do nothing but praise the God I had been reading about  - faithfully, every evening.

I was about to have the shock of my life.  As I was walking toward the YMCA, I happened to see a cocktail lounge on the same side of the street.  I began to reason, "Since I had worked hard all week, I had "earned" the right to have a beer" - obviously forgetting that I had seldom been able to stop with "just one" beer.  I took hold of the door handle and it appeared to be locked.  I tried again and again as I could hear laughter from inside.  The windows had been painted so you could not see inside.  I began to reason that it must be a private party.  I started to walk away when two couples approached and asked me if it was open.  "I don't really know.  You will have to try it for yourself," and walked on.  To my amazement, they walked right in.  I began to wonder and it was then that I recalled my promise on that bus.  My life was going to change.  Obviously, it appeared that I needed help.

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