A Walk in the Park

Originally written in January of 2011…

The old man could be found in the same place every day. He could be found sitting on the same park bench feeding pigeons again and again. He used to spend his lunch break throwing bread crumbs to the birds. Now he spent most of his day here.

Hank had worked for the same advertising firm for nearly 40 years. The business had seen a lot of ups and downs, but he had survived them all. That is, until last month when a kid, not even half his age, strolled into his office and informed him that it was time to retire. Sure, the kid could call what they were doing to him “retirement,” but Hank knew better.

He was being forced out, just because he was over the hill. It was time for a younger generation to step up and handle things from here. Hank was yesterday. The kid that fired him? He’s tomorrow. Sure, the kid had said a lot of nice things about Hank’s long years of service, and how he shouldn’t see this as the end of the road, but the beginning. Hank just laughed.

Hank couldn’t think of this next step as a new beginning. What did he have to offer the world? Aside from a few handfuls of bread crumbs for some winged pests in the park, that is. From his seat on the rickety old bench, he looked down at the pigeons that were scrambling on the sidewalk, pecking at scraps. He let out a heavy sigh and stood up.

The old man walked slowly to the edge of the park, where he had left his beat up old car. He wasn’t sure what he would do now. He’d spent the weeks since his “retirement” feeling sorry for himself. But he was sick of self-loathing. He knew that kid didn’t mean a word of his “new beginning” speech, but Hank didn’t just have to sit back and let the rest of his life, however much of it was left, just pass him by. He started up the car and said to himself, “Time to go to work.”

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