POINT TO PONDER
A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
STORY LINE by Jomari Constantino
A man was looking for proper employment. He didn't have much by way of technical skills or education but he was resourceful and hardworking. He didn't have many of the items we consider normal necessities. The man didn't even have a computer. He didn't have a home. In fact, he lived out of his car with his two young daughters.
Often, all they had to eat were tomatoes. He learned to grow them from his grandmother and one of the few tangible items the Man owned was a little plot in a small community garden that was left to him when she passed on. It was one of the small reprieves he could enjoy, cultivating the tomatoes with his two daughters, often spending afternoons sweating over their little plot with his "beauties," as he liked to call them.
He would watch his youngest and eldest working in the sun; at their soft features and the unique placement of a set of dimples situated high on both of their cheekbones, blessed to them by their late mother. It was the last bit of his wife that remained, and every time his daughters smiled, his late wife would suddenly return to him for the briefest of moments.
In the evenings they would mash the tomatoes and mix them with rice. The tomatoes were simple, much too simple to call a full meal, but they were delicious. Sweet and slightly tart with a velvety finish. His daughters gobbled up their tomato stew voraciously, especially careful to never mention that they were still hungry afterwards. But the Man knew it wasn't enough because too often, his daughters tiny bellies would grumble out loud, betray their silence.
Then one day, the Man felt he got a break. He got an interview with a company for their janitorial position. The interview went extremely well and towards the end of the meeting, the Man made his intentions clear.
“Sir, can you hire me as your janitor,” he asked.
The manager said, “Sure, your hired.”
The Man nearly broke down, “thank you, thank you, thank you...”
"But one thing, what's your email address? I need your email to hire you.”
The Man's heart skipped, “but sir, I don’t have a email.”
The manager quickly replied, “I'm sorry but we can not hire you if you don't have an email where I can reach you...”
"But I can get one," the Man pleaded.
"Sorry, I got a line of other candidates that already have an email address. I can't wait you see, I have to fill this position immediately and really, you should have one."
And with that, the interview was over.
The Man walked out onto the street in a daze and took in the city buzzing around him. At men and women darting back home from work. At a couple sitting on a park bench, arms wrapped around each other. At children happy to be finally out of school for the day, returning to what surely would be a roof over their heads and complete families. He reached into his pocket and counted out all the money he had left - four dollars and fifty-five cents...
That night while sleeping in their car, the Man wept. He always made sure to suppress it, to not show his daughters what roiled inside, but he could no longer. As he tried to wipe his eyes, to stop the sob growing within him, he found himself powerless. Powerless against time, against past mistakes, against that dull ache we call failure. Yes, he felt like a failure and were it not for his daughters, he might have given up and given in. But instead, he promised his daughters that it would not be like this forever. He promised them that one day they would have a home, a real home, and that they would have more to eat than just tomatoes.
"But I like tomatoes," his youngest exclaimed.
And for the briefest of moments, her words broke his sorrow. It made him laugh out loud through his tears. His laughter made all of them laugh, and for that moment, he forgot how tired and worried and desperate he had become.
"They are the best tomatoes papa, and you make them that way," his eldest added with a smile.
Happiness may have been doled out to him in the smallest of doses; the majority reserved in places just out of his reach, and yet still, he was thankful that they came at all. He had his daughters and they were his greatest joy. He had them, they had him, and that was enough. And it was there in the darkness of that decaying sedan, lit by the moon and brightened by the dimples on his daughter's cheekbones, that his greatest idea found him.
The next morning he took all their tomatoes and with his daughters, he brought them to the local market. There they sold their tomatoes and his daughters, as it turned out, were exceptional salespeople. Customers could not refuse the two earnest, radiant, and joyful young girls. By the early afternoon, they sold everything. They made thirty dollars. That night they celebrated over a meal that did not contain any tomatoes, but of milkfish and orange Fanta.
The next day the Man was stopped near the market by a local chef and asked if he had more tomatoes. He said he had none. The Chef responded that should he have any more, he would buy them. All of them. They were the best tomatoes he had ever had.
With that, the Man bought more seeds. They planted. They grew. Again, they sold all their tomatoes. That initial thirty dollars became sixty, then a hundred and twenty, then two hundred and forty. After some time the Man was able to get a small apartment in town for he and his two daughters.
Then one day the Chef gave the Man a plot of land on his property. The Man planted and learned to stagger his harvests so that the Man, and the Chef certainly, would not ever be without those glorious tomatoes. After some time, the Man branched out to growing other fruits and vegetables. Together with the Chef, they were producing some of the finest cuisine in town. Then the Chef's one restaurant became two, then three, and four. The Man soon found himself supplying the freshest produce to not only the Chef but the best restaurants and establishments in town. The Man had become a success and no longer did he worry about feeding his young daughters who had now grown into young women.
One day he was asked to be interviewed for a local magazine. After telling the reporter his incredible story, the reporter asked if there was an email he could send the finished article to.
"Sorry, I don't have an email," the Man politely responded.
"Wow Sir... you mean you became rich and successful without an email address?"
"Well, I grow tomatoes, my office is in the garden with the dirt and soil and seeds..."
The interview took a moment to process this.
"With all due respect Sir, if you became this successful without an email address, can you imagine what you could be doing if you had one?"
"Yes, I can," the Man quietly responded.
The Man's thoughts drifted to where he had started, he hadn't thought about that time in a while, but the years were now quickly closing in on him...
"Well, what would have you been Sir?"
The Man smiled to himself, "I'd probably be a janitor."
If you don't have something, ask yourself what you do have and see if there is a way you can utilize that. For when one door closes, another may be open right in front of you. Be thankful for the people you have in your life and always keep reaching. Always.