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Pen Your Pride


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John Smith hated his name. It was such an ordinary name. Millions of John Smiths were in the phone books of all the cities he had ever been to. Why couldn't he have a more interesting name, like Bartholomew Goldstein or Winston Williams. Anything would be better than John Smith. At least with a peculiar name he could get some kind of response even if it were only a raised eyebrow. John Smith was just ordinary, in fact it was less than ordinary. It made him feel invisible. Unknown. Unwanted. Unattractive. Uninteresting.

Out of work and feeling rejected John was wandering in the opposite side of town. He had just had yet another sad interview from some uneducated, know nothing stand in. What on earth are these people looking for. Nothing specific to the job was asked, just pointless chatter. Maybe it was some sort of psychological yes. Well if it was, he probably failed immensely. He just wasn't in the mood for psycho tests. He wanted a job and he needed it yesterday. Being out of work just wasn't fun. John had been looking for work for six months now and every time it was the same old story: Sorry, but you are over qualified for this position. Why can't they simply be honest and say: sorry, we don't want to pay someone your age the expected salary, we'd prefer to pay a dirt cheap salary to some young college graduate who has no experience and will probably cost our company thousands in dumb mistakes.

Where to now? John Smith hated his name even more after a rejection like that. He wanted a new name. It must be his name which causes so many rejections. They just don't want such an ordinary person. The plain name was enough to put any firm off from hiring him. Hands in his pockets, he kicks a pebble along the pavement. He slumbers up to it and kicks again. The pebble bounces off a rain spout and dances into a narrow alleyway. Not wanting to pursue a pebble John glances down the alleyway. A few meters away lay an old battered cardboard box. As John Smith stepped on and turned his head away from the alley something caught his eye. Did something move in that box. Maybe its a cat, or an abandoned puppy. Hmm, A little companion would be uplifting right now.

Stopping, John turned on his heel and returned to the alleyway. He walked the few paces down to the box which was turned on its side. Something moved again. John looked inside but all he could see were some rags. Maybe rats, he thought. He prodded the rags gently with his foot. More movement and a slight groan. A tiny hand appeared and pulled down some of the rags. A tattered and dirty little girl looked up into John's eyes.

My word, thought John, a little girl. What is she doing here? The tired eyes look up at John and the little girl smiles a weak smile. "Hello," she said with barely an utterance.

John kneels to get a closer look at the girl. "Hello," he answers, returning the smile. Suddenly his own trauma was forgotten. That will have to wait now. "What are you doing here?" The girl looked too weak even to speak. He placed his hand on her forehead. "Wow, you have a high fever. Where do you live? Where is your mummy?" But the little girl could only look and smile and said nothing. Her eyes rolled upward and almost closed. John stood, pacing, wondering what to do. Call an ambulance. Knock on a nearby door. He remembered passing a hospital a few streets back. Stooping low John gathers the tiny bundle into his arms. "I'll get you some care. We're going to make you well again." The girl gives a weak smile.

She looked about seven years old, yet felt so light and tiny. John's heart began to thump at the thought of the girl dying. He hurried the few blocks back to the hospital. Not knowing how else to do it, he signed in the little girl with him as her guardian. He didn't know the girls name. Feeling the urgency John persuaded the staff to look at the girl first and check her name later. They took her into an emergency room. A lady doctor looked at the child and then at John. Her face carried a huge sign of concern. This didn't look good.

John was pacing again, this time in the waiting area down the hall from the emergency theater, when a nurse rushed out. "Mr. Smith, please come." John, startled out of his thoughts of concern about the child, looked up and hurried towards the nurse. Her eyes say it all. With a shake of her head she opens the door to allow John to enter.

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