Sunday, January 13, 2013

< RM > story - The Circus

The Circus

Once when I was a teenager, my father
and I were standing in line to buy tickets for
the circus. Finally, there was only one family
between us and the ticket counter. This fam-
ily made a big impression on me. There were
eight children, all probably under the age of
12. You could tell they didn't have a lot of
money. Their clothes were not expensive, but
they were clean. The children were well-
behaved, all of them standing in line, two-by-
two behind their parents, holding hands.
They were excitedly jabbering about the
clowns, elephants and other acts they would
see that night. One could sense they had
never been to the circus before. It promised
to be a highlight of their young lives.
The father and mother were at the head of
the pack standing proud as could be. The
mother was holding her husband's hand,
looking up at him as if to say, "You're my
knight in shining armor." He was smiling and
basking in pride, looking at her as if to reply,
"You got that right."
The ticket lady asked the father how many
tickets he wanted. He proudly responded,
"Please let me buy eight children's tickets
and two adult tickets so I can take my fami-
ly to the circus."
The ticket lady quoted the price.
The man's wife let go of his hand, her
head dropped, the man's lip began to quiver.
The father leaned a little closer and asked,
"How much did you say?"
The ticket lady again quoted the price.
The man didn't have enough money.
How was he supposed to turn and tell his
eight kids that he didn't have enough money
to take them to the circus?
Seeing what was going on, my dad put his
hand into his pocket, pulled out a $20 bill and
dropped it on the ground. (We were not
wealthy in any sense of the word!) My father
reached down, picked up the bill, tapped the
man on the shoulder and said, "Excuse me,
sir, and this fell out of your pocket."
The man knew what was going on. He
wasn't begging for a handout but certainly
appreciated the help in a desperate, heart-
breaking, embarrassing situation. He looked
straight into my dad's eyes, took my dad's
hand in both of his, squeezed tightly onto the
$20 bill, and with his lip quivering and a tear
streaming down his cheek, he replied,
"Thank you, thank you, sir. This really means
a lot to me and my family."
My father and I went back to our car and
drove home. We didn't go to the circus that
night, but we didn't go without.

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