A retired professor sent me a letter. He told me that some of my stories were "too plain," and "needed more work." Then he went on to tell me many more unsavory things about myself. I was afraid he was going to grade my work and give me a C minus.
I’ve admitted this before, but I have a noted history of getting C’s. I once set a longstanding academic record for earning the most consecutive C's in my weight division. The record was later broken, but my picture still hangs in the community college trophy case.
Although not all the messages I receive are bad. For example: This morning I got a message from a man in Tallapoosa County, Alabama. He started with the words, “I sincerely love you.”
It was Niagara Falls after that. I can’t think of a better way to start a day.
Then, the man went on to tell me about something that happened to him once.
Years ago, he was standing in a supermarket line. He was
trying to pay for his groceries, but his card was declined. His bank account was in the red. A woman in line paid for his items. She was a complete stranger. He’s never told anyone about this.
“That woman probably didn’t know it,” he wrote, “but I was a single dad, at the time I was broke and we were going hungry. She put food in my kids’ mouths.”
Oh, and there’s the letter I got from the woman in Chattanooga.
She got pregnant when she was seventeen. Her family kicked her out of the house. She almost gave the child up for adoption because seventeen-year-olds can't afford babies. She wanted her child to have a good life, even if this meant letting it go.
But then a neighbor woman stepped in. She invited the girl to live with her for as long as the girl needed.…