The doorbell rang almost insistently, so I gave up trying to ignore it and walked down the hall to see who was bothering my quiet lonely afternoon.
I was intensely annoyed with this interruption, because my wife, daughter and brother-in-law were out for the day and I was enjoying writing time and just doing nothing.
I opened the door with a brusque, “yeah?” before I even looked to see who it was, could have been the Queen herself and I would have done the same.
“Yup, that’d be me.”
“Mr. Arthur Griswold?”
I sighed deeply, “Yes, you want to use my middle name next time or you want to tell me what’s going on?”
“I’m sorry to disturb you today sir, but I’ve been instructed to give you this envelope and this package, and I’ve also been instructed to make entirely sure that I was giving them to the correct individual.”
“I understand that I guess, it’s good you want to do your job right, commendable.”
“You are the young man who has been to Comerica Park to see Tigers games? Quite possibly in late September of 2003, a very chilly day?”
“I suppose I was there that day, meeting some friends from out of town. You got my attention now, that’s for sure.”
“Here you are sir, have a wonderful day, and may God Bless you in your journeys.”
And with that, the dude got in his small truck, and was gone, leaving me standing on my steps with my jaw hanging open, and holding an envelope and package.
I was turning to go back inside when I heard a horn, I thought it might be the guy coming back, but it was my family coming home, all smiles and waves.
‘So much for quiet time.’ I thought.
I stepped out and waited for them to pile out of the car, my wife looked at me quizzically, “Who was in the truck, and whatcha got there, honey?”
“The guy in the truck was a messenger, and he was delivering this stuff to me. It’s so odd, he had to make sure I was the right Arthur Griswold, and he asked me goofy questions, like did I go to a Tigers game in Sep of 2003, stuff like that.”
She looked at me sideways, like I was making it up, “Have you looked at either of those things yet?”
“Nope, I was going in to do that and you honked.”
“OK, well, let’s go see what you got.”
So, we went inside and all sat down in our spots, Will in his chair, Emily went to her room, Audrey was on the couch, and I sat down in my computer chair.
I opened the envelope first, there was a letter and a smaller envelope enclosed, so I started to read the letter out loud, but kind of drifted off ended up reading it to myself.
It was a letter of thanks to me for my act of extreme kindness in the very cold month of September 2003 in the city of Detroit, Michigan. Solely because of my selflessness, the man who wrote the letter, I’ll call him John for the sake of brevity, he took a long look at his life, and made a change. He stopped drinking, started doing odd jobs, and eventually got a real job at an ad firm, just as the janitor at first. He slowly worked his way out of that position into a job in the advertising part of things, and with his sharp mind, which had been addled for so long; he finally raised high enough to secure the job of VP of the company.
He now is a self-made man, with a loving family and a big house just outside the city and a cottage up north. But, he never forgot the act of kindness that gave him his life epiphany, and so he started working towards seeing who it was that did it for him.
Thanks to traffic cameras and the police department keeping the tapes, he was able to discover my name, and then he started worrying over how to thank me properly.
So, he wrote me the letter, which by the way, was more than is ever necessary when doing something for someone.
He also hoped that the enclosed gift would make me happy, since I’d turned him into such a successful entrepreneur. He had more than he’d ever thought possible, and was that one in a million miracle and he thanks God that we’d crossed paths and my heart had helped me reach out that day.
After first reading it to myself, and then out loud to my family, we all just kind of looked at each other. Neither me nor Audrey could remember what I’d done for anybody, so I opened the smaller envelope, and fell out of my chair. It was a cashier’s check for enough money to not only pay off my house, but also live comfortably for a very long time without working hard. Apparently, this guy really did mean it when he said he owed it all to me, WOW, what a gift.
Then I picked up the package, slit the tape and opened the box. When I saw what was inside, I started laughing and crying at the same time. It was a pair of shoes, worn down with holes in the toes, and a note that said, “These carried me to the end of the rainbow, and I love you for them.”
It all rushed back now, the homeless man walking on the street with almost no clothes on at all, the traffic being so slow that we were stopped by him as he shuffled by. Rolling the window down and tossing him my shoes and wishing him a warm winter somehow.
Pay it forward, That’s damn right.