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The Spectator
founded 2004 by ron cruger
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 by Frank Shortt
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A Pair of old Gloves
2014 Spectator Ron - The Spectator All Rights Reserved
C
        At first appearance he looked to be eighty. He had seen far better days. The ancient army overcoat he was wrapped in barely protected him from the bitter Kingsport winter. On his hands were mismatched socks with holes. He could be someone’s father.
        I encountered him as I entered a charitable department store with IXOYE written over the door. When in strange towns I have a habit of going to thrift stores looking for old books and art. I had come to Kingsport to visit my ailing mother. I decided to take a break and see part of the old downtown. I wondered as I gazed about, “Why all the empty story fronts?”
        “How ya doin’ old timer, you seem a little disappointed.”
        At first he met my inquiry with a quizzical stare.
        “I thought this was a charitable establishment. I went in thinking I might be treated to a pair of old gloves for my freezing hands. I guess money means more to them than helping people!” was his caustic reply.
        I considered, “even if he were a rich man in disguise, he could be granting them a test of their sincerity.”
        The old man’s attitude puzzled me greatly.
        “Just take it easy, dad, I’ll see what I can do.
        As I went on in I overheard one of the lady clerks declaring,
        “The nerve of that bum, thinking he could get a free hand-out here. He’s been hanging around here all morning. I oughta call the cops.”
        “Is this a charitable organization? I asked. Aren’t folks supposed to come here for help and maybe salvation? If so, you’re missing a great opportunity. Besides, isn’t everything here donated?”
        “Sure, we help plenty of folks, but there’s a protocol. We can’t just shell out to ever’ bum on the street.” She replied with scorn.
        “You mean to tell me if I came in here with frozen hands, and had no money, I would have to go to the headquarters before someone would have mercy on me?”
        “That’s th’ way she works,” she replied.
        I started to leave in disgust. Then my heart smote me and I remembered the old man outside with holes in his makeshift stocking gloves. I had told him I would see what I could do!
        “I’ll take a pair of these surplus military gloves. I wouldn’t want an old man to freeze his hands. That could be my dad.”
        As the clerk took my two-fifty, almost slamming the cash register drawer, she gave me a look of disdain.
        I heard her say as I left the store,
        “Some folks only encourage the riff-raff hangin’ ‘round here.”
        I gave the old man the gloves and he embraced me warmly before ambling off down the street. I felt really good as if I had somehow saved a soul.
        Sometimes, establishments forget their main purpose in life. Sometimes they should look past the rules of organization by observing the ‘Spirit of the law’!