Background: Writer’s group assignment. Yet another story on the theme new beginnings. I have called it “You just never know”. Words required – About 750. Words used – 867
When Matthew Piper retired, he was given five farewell parties in different cities. He did not think there was anything personal about that. It was just how they said farewell to a national CEO when it came time to hang up his driving gloves and motor into the sunset. Everyone would soon forget he had ever existed and the world would move on.
He walked in the mountains and did some sailing and the motor industry from whence he had come moved onto high-tech paths he had never known. Matt had retired with a few company shares and a reasonable pension but as time passed the pension no longer kept up with the cost of living and he had had to sell his shares on a depressed market. His income was then sufficient to support his modest lifestyle until the heart attack happened without warning. He survived but was diagnosed with a serious heart condition and informed that he would need to have major surgery and possibly even a heart transplant. His medical aid would only cover a small part of the incredible cost he was quoted and so he resigned himself to dying young and in misery.
“Hello” said Matt into the phone he had just answered. “Who’s calling”?
The answer rather surprised him.
“Well goodness me – Arthur Gleeson” Matt said again after a while. “You were just a puppy when you came to work with me and now you’re inviting me to your retirement party. I can’t believe it. I don’t go out much these days but I would not miss that for the world Arthur. See you on the 25th”.
The function room was buzzing as Arthur was seated between a guy he maybe remembered and a woman that he definitely did not. He was pretty sure that few of those present would remember him but he enjoyed the speeches and all the recollections of days gone by. He was tiring a bit when a new speaker got up and Matt definitely remembered him. He had been an operative on the production line but now he didn’t look very blue collar. He was dressed in a glitzy suit and had a manicured appearance. Matt was shaken by the essence of what he said. “Colleagues” said Martin, “as most of you will know, I am now a director of this fantastic company of ours. I managed to climb from the factory floor to this position because a boss who I never personally knew recognised in me some ability that even I did not know I had. He got me onto various training courses and made it possible to rise through the ranks to the position I currently hold. I have never been able to thank that man until today but at last I have my opportunity”. Hi eyes flicked up across the room to where Matt was seated and he raised his wineglass in salute. “Thank you for my wonderful career Matthew Piper”.
Matt was aghast but before he could even collect his thoughts, the next speaker was having her say.
“My story is similar” she was saying. I was an assistant clerk when Matt Piper took me under his wing. He called me in and told me that he had been watching me and had realised that I had potential. He sent me off to university at company expense and today, I, little Angela Dawson, am a chartered accountant and proud to still be working for this great company that Matt Piper built up from almost nothing.
The final speaker was Reg Bertrand and he told of how Matt Piper had arranged for him to receive a study bursary too. He was now a commercial pilot and no longer with the company but would always be proud to have worked for the great Matthew Piper.
Matt’s head was spinning and he felt unable to stand or respond to what he had just heard. But then the host, Arthur Gleeson was at the microphone. He too was looking straight at Matt.
“Matt Piper” he was saying “we know you have been retired for quite a while and that your pension cannot cover the expensive surgery you have to have. But we want to tell you tonight Matt that all the people here not only remember you but we all consider you the most fabulous boss we ever had. A lot of us have done pretty well in life, in large measure as a result of the guidance and nurture you gave us. So we have passed the hat around Matt. We have collected all the money you will need to cover the costs of your surgery and you can book yourself into the hospital tomorrow.
Those were the images Matt had in his mind as the anesthetic faded the world from around him and those same images popped back into his mind again as he came round. He knew then that he would be alright but he also knew he had discovered a new truth. ‘One moves through life as consciously as possible’ he was saying to himself ‘but you never quite know what impact you are really having.’