Chris swiped a film of sweat off his forehead when the bell signaled an end to the challenging work day. It had taken about an hour for the buzz of juicy talk to stop streaming through the factory. By the time it died down, Chris and John were either accused of plotting to blow the place up, or were being promoted to take over as day-shift supervisors. But no matter which story employees believed, venom splashed the gossips in the form of fear or jealousy.
After most of the crowd filed out ahead of him, Chris stepped through the exit into fresh air. The grassy fragrance of a first spring cut welcomed him from the stuffy confines of grimy factory fumes. He stretched his arms, and a vertebrae popped back in place, it felt good.
Now that the parking lot had thinned, Chris strode toward his car. A four-wheel drive Chevy blocked the view to his gray Buick, so he saw John’s stormy face before he laid eyes on the vehicle. Tim from shipping stood next to John, with a somber expression reflected as well.
Chris slowed his steps catty-corner of the Chevy, “Did someone steal my car?” He laughed nervously, “They probably did me a favor.”
John shook his head east to west, but didn’t speak.
Three more steps and Chris saw why the air of silence.
Both driver’s side rims of his Buick rested on the ground, with only a pancake of tire tread protecting metal from scraping asphalt. A sloppy swath of vulgarity was scribbled in white wax on the left rear window.
While Chris gaped with a slack jaw, Tim laid a comforting hand on his shoulder and said, “If you’ll get your spare, I’ll get mine, it should fit.” Tim turned to John, ‘Can you get the jack under the car and lift it off the ground?”
“You bet,” John said, rounding toward the back.
Chris moved mechanically, hefting the spare tire, jack, and a toolbox from his trunk. He didn’t notice the small mob of onlookers starting to create a U-shape around the trio.
In silence, the three men rigged the Buick with the spares, at least making it driveable for a few miles. When the last lug nut was in place, Tim pushed his weight under his knees, and vaulted to a standing position, brushing his hands against each other in a sign of completion. “There. I can’t say good as new, but better than before.”
Chris nodded sullenly. The sound of rustling between the onlookers caused him to notice their presence. He stiffened in preparation for the onslaught.
But, they surprised him.
One of the women stepped forward first. “We owe you an apology. What they did here isn’t right. There’s a lot of crazy stories floating around, but news always grows bigger once it passes through a few people. And especially when no one stands with you. I was afraid to say it before, but I respect what you said in the break room the other day. John here told us your seven paces.”
Chris wrinkled his forehead in confusion and looked at John, who shrugged back.
The woman moaned, “Those things you’re doing.” Obviously frustrated, she frowned at John and said, “You read them to us off that piece of paper in your wallet, just before Chris got out here.”
“Oh, our seven steps.”
“Steps, paces, same difference,” but her face flushed deep crimson in spite of her confident words.
Three or four voices chimed in.
“Get me a copy of those steps — or paces,” a male voice chuckled.
“Yeah, me too. I want to go through the paces.”
“That’s right. You can count on me.”
Chris scanned the dozen or so friendly faces surrounding him. What was going on? They wanted to participate?
He would have to talk with Steve, the assistant Plant Manager, first thing in the morning. Two people walking the floor on break was one thing, but this many praying at once? Chris feared Steve might call the group’s enthusiasm chaos, and shut the whole thing down. But then again, how do you dampen this many up-lifted spirits?
Hope dared to infect the air with its energy.
Anita FreshFaith @ Work
Romans 15:5 (NIV)
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had….
Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business Coach, Certified Personality Trainer, Communications Specialist, speaker, and writer. She lives in Missouri.