He sat in a construction office trailer. It was after hours. He was off the clock. He watched a black-and-white television after a long day of work.
He was a foreman. He had things to do. Normally, he would’ve been anywhere else besides the office trailer. But today was different.
A knock on the door.
An old man with an unshaven face and backpack. The man was lean. He asked if he could dig through the job-site dumpster.
“What for?” asked the foreman.
“Looking to make me a house out of a cardboard box. One that won’t get knocked down by the wind.”
So, the foreman showed him the biggest and best boxes. One was large enough to play basketball in.
They talked. They laughed. The foreman asked if the old man was hungry.
“I could eat,” was the man’s response.
The foreman fed him two bologna sandwiches with mustard.
The old man ate caterpillar-slow. He watched the television with big eyes while he chewed.
“Been awhile since I seen a TV,” he said.
After the man finished his meal, the foreman gave him all the food in the break-room kitchen. Potato chips, Cokes, peanut butter, a loaf of Bunny Bread. He gave him the money in his wallet, too.
“Where’re you staying?” asked the foreman.
“Oh, no. That’s terrible.”
“Nah, it’s nice back there. Sometimes they even throw away old canned food.”
How about that.
The foreman brought the man home. He introduced him to his family. After a fifteen-minute shower, the fella was hardly recognizable. His skin looked three shades lighter. His hair was less yellow.
They ate. They talked about good things. Nice things. The man was a perfect gentleman.
They offered for him to stay the night.
The old man declined.
He wasn’t seen for months thereafter. Until the day he turned up at the construction trailer again. After hours.
The old man appeared at the door, gripping his chest. His look was a serious one. He said was having pains.
They took him to the ER. The doctor said it was a heart defect. He needed surgery. Fast.
They rushed him to the surgeon. They shaved the man’s chest. And while they were at it, they cut his beard off. He looked a hundred years older without it. The lines on his face were deep.
Before surgery, he told the foreman, “Thanks for all you done for me. Most people just look on past me.”
Surgery was long. The foreman waited. The doctor came out with a relieved face.
Old Bones made it.
The foreman walked into his room. The man was sleeping. He sat by his bed until he woke.
“I sure am glad I met you,” were the old man’s first words.
The foreman shared this sentiment. They remained friends until the end.
“I know you’ve probably heard stuff like this before,” says the widow who first told me this story. “But I just thought you might like to know that good people are still out there.”
And your foreman husband was damn sure one of them.