He woke up feeling pretty good. The night’s sleep had been quieter than usual. His tossing and turning was held to a minimum and he felt rested. The ache in his left knee was there, of course, but he had learned to live with that. His neck was a little sore but that would soon be worked out as he moved about his small, one bedroom apartment.
He had forgotten to get the coffee maker ready to turn on automatically this morning, so he had to rinse out the coffee pot, fill it with water, pour it in the coffee maker, replace the filter, put his favorite blend of dark roast coffee in the filter, then wait the five minutes it took for the first cup of soul-soothing, piping hot, delicious coffee to be ready.
This man, living alone since the death of his spouse some thirteen years earlier, was used to doing things for himself, so making the coffee was just one of the many facets of living alone with which he was familiar. While cooking wasn’t exactly his forte', he didn’t go hungry, either. He could cook up a pretty good meat loaf, and his chili was said to be ‘to die for’.
The doorbell rang, suddenly shattering the peaceful environs of his apartment and startling him almost to the point of dropping his coffee cup. It wasn’t normal for his doorbell to ring at five thirty in the morning, so it was with a little trepidation that he made his way to the front door. Opening it, he found his neighbor from one floor below his third- story apartment standing there looking rather dismayed.
Inviting him in and offering him a cup of coffee, he asked what on earth could prompt such an early morning visit. His neighbor, a younger man of some forty plus years, had always been, more or less, a surrogate son as he and his wife had been childless. So it was no surprise that he would be the one to tell him that his old pickup truck had a flat tire and that he would change it if he wanted.
Thanking the younger man for his offer, he said that he would take care of the matter himself after getting some more coffee and having his breakfast, which usually consisted of a bowl of hot cereal and more coffee.
By seven o’clock it was light enough to be able to see to do the tire change which his old truck needed. The only problem was that the spare tire had been firmly entrenched in its mounting rack so long that it, too, had gone completely flat.
Well, he thought, I’ll just have to work around that situation. There was a so-called super shopping center located some six blocks from where he lived, so he would just walk over there, buy a tire pump, and come back and air up the uncooperative spare.
It was a nice morning for a walk, he thought, as he made his way to the shopping center. Traffic was light for this time of day, so he had little problem navigating the various cross walks and sidewalks he encountered on his way. The stores in the center weren’t very busy so he found what he wanted, made the purchase, and started his return journey.
Outside, the situation had become somewhat more complex than when he entered the shopping center. There were police cars, ambulances, and even a news helicopter hovering overhead, above the parking lot directly in from of the center entrance. A crowd was starting to gather, held back by a ribbon of yellow ‘crime scent’ tape enclosing an area of approximately one thousand square feet. In the center of the area sat a beat up old pickup. His pickup!
Thoroughly confused, he approached the nearest policeman, identified himself as the owner of the truck and asked what was going on. He was told that the truck had been stolen from the parking lot of an apartment complex nearby. The thief, not realizing that the truck had a flat tire, had tried to get away with it but could not control it and finally crashed into a light pole in the parking lot of the shopping center. His erratic driving caused by the flat tire had drawn the attention of the police, and they followed chased him to the present location where he encountered the unmovable object with which he became intimately familiar. The concrete light pole mounting pedestal. Fortunately, the old truck was built like a tank and there was minimal damage. Just a small dent in the front bumper. The only injury was the bump on the head the driver suffered when the truck hit the pole. After all, seat belts didn’t exist in trucks that old. The police had the driver in custody and were hauling him off to jail.
There was no shortage of volunteers to help change the tire on the old truck, and it was soon sitting on four perfectly inflated tires, the spare tire having been inflated by an electric air pump carried in one of the police vans, thus saving the effort required to pump up a tire with a hand operated pump.
Paperwork completed, statements given, proper documents produced, that is to say showing his valid drivers license and proof of insurance as required by state law, he climbed into the old truck and headed back home.
Returning to his apartment complex, he found a parking space almost directly in front of his entrance way. He made his way up the stairs to his apartment. There was an elevator available, but it would put him almost one hundred yards away from his front door so he preferred to just use the stairs. Besides, it was good exercise for him. He was tired from the climb but it actually felt pretty good to get the muscles into action, and it even helped the soreness of his knee.
Getting ready to prepare some lunch, he was again interrupted by the ringing of the doorbell. Opening the door, he found five of his fellow tenants, including the earlier visitor, standing there with bags of fast food from a near-by fish and chicken store. There was also a mysterious, large item completely covered with brown wrapping paper, being carried by one member of the group.
Inviting them in, he was informed that they had learned that today was his birthday and they wanted to give him a surprise party! It was, indeed, a surprise, and even more surprising was the cake which they revealed after eating their lunch. Someone had found a small, metal rendition of his actual pickup truck and had put it on top of the birthday cake they had purchased.
He was flabbergasted. Never in his life had he seen anything like it. He could not find words to express his feelings. Nor did his friends need any words of thanks. The look on his face and the tears in his eyes told it all.
That night, as he was getting ready for bed, he reflected on the activities of the day, and though it had started out with less than desirable circumstances, it had evolved into a day he would remember for a long time, he hoped. Not bad, he thought, for his one-hundredth birthday.
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