An old man got fired from his job because of his debilitating disease. As he despaired about the future, two wonderful people from his past showed up at his doorstep with an unbelievable proposition.
“Grandpa! Look at my castle!” Benjamin’s young grandson, Liam, called out from the sandbox Benjamin built years ago in his front yard when his first grandchild, Angie, was born. Normally, he would cheer and congratulate his grandkid for making a sandcastle, but today was different. Benjamin was sad and felt drained of energy.
“That’s great, kid,” he replied loudly but emotionlessly. He was thinking of the future and what it might entail for him and the rest of his family. He raised his hands for the millionth time in the last year and saw them shaking. They wouldn’t move to his commands like they used to, and now, the realities of his disease were even more glaring.
He had used his hands for decades at his job as a furniture assembler. He was the best on staff and was even responsible for some of the most intricate designs in wood carving. However, after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s, he stepped back from wood carving, focusing on assembling.
“Mr. Jones, let’s cut down to the chase. We’re here because we heard you were fired, and I think that’s crazy,” he started, shaking his head.
Unfortunately, that also became harder, and eventually, his boss, Mr. Signore, found out. He had to tell him the truth. “Why don’t you retire, Ben? It’s time. You’re the right age. We’ll miss you, but maybe, it’s time to rest, get treated, and enjoy your golden years,” his boss suggested kindly.
“I can’t, Mr. Signore. I have some treatments coming up, and that’s going to be so expensive. I need the money,” he shook his head. Mr. Signore pursed his lips but nodded.
“Ok, but let’s make sure nothing goes amiss, ok? Be careful,” he told Benjamin, who nodded eagerly.
Sadly, the situation with his hands worsened, and eventually, he couldn’t assemble anything. Mr. Signore tried to justify things to his higher-ups. But a decision was made some months later, and Benjamin was fired for not being able to fulfill his regular duties.
Now, he was home, three hours after his boss informed him of the news. His wife, Angie, came out and asked him to watch four-year-old Liam, who wanted to play in the sandbox. Therefore, he just sat on the porch, looking after the kid and wondering how he would tell her about losing his job.
But before he could sink into shame and worry or his future, he saw a truck pull up his street and park right in front of his house in an Oklahoma neighborhood.
Suddenly, Eric and Franklin got out, and he smiled widely. Those kids were in their 40s now, but decades ago, they were newbies in the furniture world. Benjamin taught them everything they knew, and soon enough, they outdid him and quit to pursue their own dreams. Last he heard, they had a competing company and were doing very well for themselves.
“Mr. Jones!” Eric shouted, his arms open wide.
Franklin smiled and waved as they walked up the path to his porch. Benjamin smiled in return and stood up unsteadily, holding his cane as best he could. He could still walk and stand, but sometimes his kids insisted on the cane. “Guys, it’s so nice to see you,” he told them warmly.
“Mr. Jones, don’t stand. Sit, sit,” Franklin said, his arms up as if to catch the older man. But Benjamin would not lose face like that in front of his former protégées. He shook their hands and invited them to sit down.
The men chatted about nothing for several minutes until Eric cleared his throat and started talking.
“Mr. Jones, let’s cut to the chase. We’re here because we heard you were fired, and I think that’s crazy,” he started, shaking his head.
“Yeah. How could they after so many years? Where’s the loyalty?” Franklin agreed.
“You heard? It just happened a few hours ago,” the older man sighed. “But boys, did you also hear about my disease? It’s bad. My hands don’t work like they used to. They really didn’t have a choice.”
“We heard but still. It seems illegal,” Franklin answered, concern on his face.
“Well, it’s life. We’re all going to the same place at some point,” Benjamin added, nodding sagely.
“That might be true, but not today. You are still the brilliant furniture maker that taught me everything, right?” Eric asked.
“I guess,” Benjamin said, puzzled.
“How about coming with us? Join our team and be a supervisor, and work on the project you can. We know you can do it,” Franklin suggested, and Benjamin’s brows went up.
“Are you sure?” he asked them in complete shock.
“100%,” Eric added, nodding eagerly.
Benjamin’s heart pounded at the offer, and his lips tightened as he held his emotions inside. “Yes,” he breathed, and the younger men smiled.
“Ok, we’ll see you bright and early tomorrow, Mr. Jones,” Eric added as they started leaving.
“Won’t you stay for dinner?” Benjamin offered.
“We can’t. We have a business dinner today. But maybe, some other time,” Franklin excused. “Oh, and by the way, as a supervisor, you’re going to earn much more than before. But we’ll discuss that tomorrow.”
The men smiled one more time and finally left. “Liam, let’s go find Grandma,” he called out, and his grandkid jumped out of the sandbox, quickly coming up to the porch. Benjamin sing-sang as he entered the house, “Angie, I have something to tell you….”
Benjamin worked for ten years in Eric and Franklin’s company before finally retiring on his own terms. But he made triple the salary he did before, and his responsibilities included training other employees, coming up with new ideas, and directing the production. He felt valuable, appreciated, and grateful.
What can we learn from this story?
- A company that doesn’t value its loyal employees will lose labor quickly. Although his disease prevented him from working with his hands, Benjamin’s old company could’ve found another spot for him, using his many years of experience. Instead, they lost him to a competitor.
- Aging is inevitable, so it’s important to have a safety net. Not everyone will get the chance that Benjamin got when Eric and Franklin came over, so it’s essential to save for the future. Start saving for retirement as soon as possible, be smart with money, and make plans in case of diseases. You never know what can happen.