This story is based upon a true story, but some facts may or may not have been exaggerated for emphasis.
It was a normal day at the office. February was here and we had received our best snowfall of the winter. I am not sure I will ever trust the Farmers Almanac again. It had predicted a cold and snowy winter. I love snow. I love the cold — at least for now. To me there is nothing much better than stepping out of the house into a crisp clear morning and seeing a fresh blanket of snow. I tend to even become giddy when I am traveling to work in the snow and I find a side road that hasn’t been touched. I get to be the first to trod that path, a pioneer in my own right. OK, that’s a little silly, but still kind of true.
Back to the office. Friday had finally arrived, and people were in and out, paying taxes, recording documents, dropping off forms, and some to just say hello to old co-workers or friends. I love my job. I love talking with people. I used to take it personally when people would say I talk too much or that I spend too much time fraternizing. I always felt like that was a stab at my character or who I was. But now I realize part of the time it is people who likely are just not all that happy and are jealous that I am. Talking wasn’t always easy for me. Internally, most of my childhood was spent being an introvert, attempting to never be the focus of anyone or anything. Obviously, I somehow mastered that demon.
As our afternoon was ticking along our office intercom beeped and one of my co-workers answered it. I heard her speaking with the person and said, “I will send him down.” Since I am on the only male in my office that meant I was headed on a mission somewhere. My co-worker explained that I had been asked to rough up the building vending machine as it had so rudely cheated a co-worker out of a precious commodity. It was chocolate. I do like roughing up the vending machine. It tends to cheat us out of our sugary snacks quite often.
I often ponder what am I good at, what is my purpose in life, who killed Kenny or who shot JR, or where is that blasted Waldo. Most of those questions will likely never be answered, but on this day my purpose was made apparent. I was a contracted mercenary. I received my mission and I accepted it with ease. I decided to investigate the situation and plan out my attack. My mission grew an audience as one of my fellow co-workers wanted to be a witness to the carnage that was about to ensue. We made our way to the dark and dreary basement where my target was lurking. Upon arrival, the mission looked bleak. The chocolate was being held by its throat in a very aggressive fashion. This machine has coils that spin as the money is paid. It then drops to freedom where it can be consumed by the hunter. Unfortunately, that first Three Musketeer bar was strangled, and was held hostage. My client confessed that she was so desperate for that snack that she broke down and spent another bill hoping to free her chocolate. It was then that the second bar wedged in the machine’s grasp and was now even more strangled. A third dollar was spent going all in on the chocolatey goodness. (Is chocolatey even a word?)
You guessed it — and since I was hired to do some dirty work — this third dollar failed as well.
I am not really sure what happened next as things seem to have gotten foggy, but my co-worker said it appeared to her that something came over me. I became something she never wanted to see again. For the most part I basically picked the machine up and slammed it to the ground. It was to no avail, and the janitor of the building, hearing the ruckus outside his office, came out to see what was happening. He took one look at the issue and said good luck. She’s stuck.
This could not end this way. I had been contracted to fulfill a mission. I decided to sit back and think. What would Mr. Miyagi do? Ahh, Daniel Son), be one with the machine, look past the problem.
I had one final trick up my sleeve as this wasn’t my first rodeo, one final attempt in me to overcome this mission. I decided to bribe the machine one last time. I inserted the bill into the slot and waited for it to begin the process. As those claws spun around attempting to release the sugary goodness, I grabbed both sides of the varmint and shook with all of my might. Paydirt. I had defeated the machine. It was no match for Chad the recorder of the county. As I walked away from the defeated adversary I spat on the ground. I really don’t know why, but it felt like the right thing to do. As I turned to the stairwell, I looked back and said, “Keep the change you filthy animal!”
I presented the spoils to my client. She was so satisfied with my work that she said I was her hero! Wow, my mission was complete and my purpose in life may have just been realized. Sometimes our purpose in life eludes us, but on this day my purpose seemed evident. Life had meaning. My day was made by one act of heroics. I made a difference.
This may seem like a concocted story, but I promise it is true, at least some of it. But as I was taught in college, you just have to make the story sound believable — right? I guess the proof is really in the pudding, or chocolate bar in this case.
Sometimes your purpose falls out of thin air or is thrust upon you, and other times it is harder to discern. But my co-worker made it through another day all because I accepted the mission. Oh, did I tell you I got the second bar as well. It only cost us $4 for two bars priced at $1.50, but I bet that machine won’t mess with me again.
Find your purpose, make a difference. Even if it is for chocolate.
Chad McConnaughey is the Highland County recorder.