This I Believe

Anita - Waxhaw, North Carolina
Entered on January 27, 2008

The amusement park noise surrounded me. Music was blaring from every fake rock speaker and competed with the roller coaster’s sonic-jet boom. Suddenly a woman’s voice blurted out enticing young hormone-infused boys to try their hand at luck. If he wins, neon strobe lights flash and he begins to stab the air with his sword like Zoro. Basketballs bounce on the steamy blacktop to the steps of hundreds of teenagers. These sounds mix with the smell of old burnt oil and trash. I searched for one tiny space away from the noise, sights and smells. But my move was in vain as I surrendered to the theme of Star Wars being played for the 39th time. The voice inside my head said, “I’m too old for this. I want to go home and feel the gentle breeze tease the corn. But, I’m sitting outside the gates of Hell while the sun scorches me.”

I looked at my watch to see when I could escape this madness and I noticed an older gentleman sitting to my left. His head sunk down to feel the sun on his neck and shoulders. He was bald except for a few gray hairs that were held captive by his tan hair net. He didn’t move for the longest time. Gently, I said, “ Sir, you look tired.” His head arose from a self-induced slumber and his hazel eyes met mine. A raspy voice replied,

“ I’m so tired. I have sugar and my nerves are shot. Maybe when I was young, but I can’t take this. Been here since 7am; it’s 4:00 now and this is my first break. I moved here from Buffalo, cause my arthritis is bad. I’ve lost everything and have fallen tween the cracks.”

I said, “I’ve seen how they treat their employees and it’s not very well. I work with people who have disabilities and I have a few phone numbers that might help.”

He smiled for the first time and said, “I’m stayin’ right here til I get those numbers!”

The park noise was deafening as I handed him the paper. He shouted, “ You’re an angel ! Meeting you, after coming all these miles has made it worth while, Thank You!” He held out his hand to shake mine and in that second, he was gone. Tears streamed down my face. I said, “God, I know I’m not an angel but if this was my purpose today, Thank You.”

I hid my tears until I realized that no one saw me. The park people ran by me like a movie that tripped it’s track. Five o’clock finally came and I slipped into the stream of people that went by the stuffed purple monkeys and the frozen lemonade. It was finally my turn to leave but I believe, that God had another purpose for me that day. I just didn’t know I would find it in the smiling hazel eyes of a stranger.