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The Last Ride Home

After forty years of working in the same building today was the day he would walk out never to return.  He had cleared his desk and taken all of his awards and photos down.  There were pictures of him with a young JFK, Frank Sinatra, and the popular cult hero, Leonard Cohen.  Today they were only photos in a box.  All his leather-bound books were gone the shelves empty.  He had donated them to a local library.  Taking one last look around, he then walked out the oak door sliding his brass nameplate from its holder, placing it into the box and gently shutting the door one last time.

There was no one there to say goodbye – just a janitor cleaning and the lonely sound of his leather-soled wingtips on the tile floor.  No echo of his past achievements just a long dark hallway with an elevator at the end.  The journey to the street seemed to last forever with each floor creating a flashback to the rise of his success.

For a moment he smiled feeling a sense of release and then walked into his favorite bar where he had been coming every night for bourbon for forty years.

The streets were brutally cold, so he pulled his collar up high to help block the wind.  He pulled the tie from around his neck and threw it into the nearest trashcan.  For a moment he smiled feeling a sense of release and then walked into his favorite bar where he had been coming every night for bourbon for forty years.  He would have just one before catching the rail home.  He looked at the empty glass, then at the bartender, old and gray like him.  He declined a refill; tonight would be his last bourbon.

He walked back onto the sidewalk looking up at the building where he worked for so long. He went from mail clerk in the basement to a corner office with a breathtaking view of the city lights.  He had spent many late nights in that tower forsaking his family and promising to make it up.  Of course, that time never came.  The children moved south to warmer climates and ocean condos, two SUVs, two children and a dog.

His wife passed during a nor’easter five years ago.  He couldn’t get out of the city and when he called home she begged him not to leave her alone that night.  She told him how afraid she was.  He swore that he would slow down and spend more time at home, but it never happened.  He didn’t get to say goodbye.  Grief clawed at his heart and his soul carried a burden that was unbearable.  How could he know he would only have one last call and her voice would be silent forever?

They had talked about his retirement and had planned to sell the house and move to South Carolina.  They had even flown there to look at homes.  In truth, he kept saying one more year until there were no more years.  No more hopes and dreams, no more rewards for a lifetime of work and sacrifice.

It was a brisk icy New York night as he walked to the station waiting for the last run to the suburbs.  There was only one other person on the desolate car this night, yet he sat far away.  This was his last ride on the train, a train that he had taken twice a day for most of his life.

He was quiet, even a bit sad.  He didn’t feel the peace he had expected to feel.  Tonight, he was just a lonely soul on a last ride.

Point Of View

While drive and determination often decide the directions we take in life, success and power often drive us to forget why we seek to thrive at what we do.  A missed ballgame, a birthday or school play forgotten is not something you can replace.  They happen once, and the moment has passed.  Life flies by at hyper speed, and if you let the things in life that are meaningful like family, children, and parents take a back seat to success, you will get awakened by the silence when they are gone.  Don’t let your life boil down to one ride home on a deserted train with no one there to greet you.  Don’t end up with an empty house and sad memories as your epilogue.

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Larry Tyler
Larry Tyler
Awaken the possibilities … then unleash them. After 55 years of successful retail management, I have returned to my passion of writing. I write Poetry, Storytelling, and Short Stories. As a child, I grew up on front porch storytelling. I would sit and listen to my Dad and his brothers tell these great stories that were captivating, and I always wanted to hear more. I wanted to experience the things they talked about. I started writing at a young age and reading everything I could get my hands on. At twelve years old I started a storytelling group and several of my friends became writers or poets. At 16 I hopped box cars and worked the tobacco fields, orange groves, picked cotton, and spent many nights around a campfire listing to life stories. Someone once asked me why I wrote. It consumes an amazing amount of time and I assure you it is not going to make me rich. I write so that my children can touch and feel my words telling of the ones that came before us and the stories they told me. These are the chronicles of our family and even though they come from my childhood memories and are deeply rooted in a child’s remembrance at least they may feel what it was like in the time before them and cherish the things the elders left behind. I am a Columnist & Featured Contributor, BIZCATALYST360 and I have The Writers Café, a group on LinkedIn that features Poets, Writers, Artists, Photographers, and Musicians . On Facebook I have two groups and one page; Dirt Road Storytelling, From Abandoned To Rescue Dogs And Cats, and About Life, Love And Living. As writers, it is true that we honestly do not know what we hold within us until we unleash it. When our words inspire others only then will inspiration return to the writer. I will spend my twilight years in search of the next story, the next poem, and the next image. I will take the time to enjoy my Wife, our Dogs, and Cats, and our amazing new home and I will always find the time to walk down a dirt road I truly hope is that I never have to read another book on Leadership, be on a conference call or see another plan o gram as these were the tool for what I did in life and not about who I am.

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9 CONVERSATIONS

    • A man walked into my store and he seemed so very sad and I asked him if he was Okay and asked me to sit outside on a bench. He told me this story. He was a broken soul. I went home that night and told my wife that we were retiring in a year. We moved out in the country and never looked back…

  1. I believe that the effectiveness and success of work-life, and then the entire response to the challenges posed by the context, is only possible if parallel with the commitment within the company, there is also a sincere and conscious individual action aimed at a better understanding of themselves, the more profound and true, to a new capacity to manage (identify and select) the priorities, the real ones, to better creativity to act in an integrated way between professional and private life. In essence, the work-life balance is an individual matter. For the individual is not, therefore, only to live well despite the work, but rather to find ways to ensure that the professional commitment allows personal growth that enriches its own private life as well. The consequence of this is that the company cannot create the best work-life balance for each employee; as individuals it is up to us to look for it and build it!

    • Thank you Aldo. One of my customers told me the story about his life it was so sad. I knew both him and his wife. While he is still a kind and gentle soul you can see the sorrow in his eyes

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