A woman had to ask her boss for money so that she could buy some warm clothes for her kids—but in the end, both she and her boss got more than what they asked for.
It was a typical Monday morning in the office, everything as hectic as ever—there’s never enough coffee in the world to make it tolerable for anyone involved. However, this Monday will be the beginning of something different for Morgan, the office manager, and Shirley, one of his employees.
“Shirley, would you come into my office please?” This is the first thing Morgan said as he stepped into the office, without looking at any of his employees.
But as soon as the words came out, everyone laid their eyes on Shirley, for they knew it wasn’t a good sign. There are only a few things that can make a Monday worse than it already is, and this is one of them.
Shirley stood up from her desk, staring at the floor as she did so. She tried her best to avoid eye contact with anyone as she walked towards Morgan’s room.
“Morgan Peterson. District Operation Manager.” She stared at the sign on the door for a good five seconds, took a deep breath, and opened the door.
As soon as the door closed behind her, everyone turned their eyes back to their computer screens, and everything returned to the usual hecticness that’s expected of a Monday morning
Morgan’s eyes were fixated on the report in front of him, and Shirley instantly realized that it was indeed the report she submitted last Friday. Not a good sign at all.
Take a seat,” Morgan said.
As soon as she sat down, Morgan stopped scribbling on the report.
“Page three. Our client is called Energy Revolution Inc., not Energy Evolution Inc,” his eyes turned towards the computer screen as he said it.
Shirley was silent.
“I hope we don’t need to have these conversations again,” Morgan continued.
You can go back to work now,” Morgan continued, his eyes remained fixated on the computer screen.
But Shirley sat there in silence, her eyes on the floor as they began to turn watery, with tears slowly flowing down her cheek.
After a good ten seconds, Morgan finally took notice of Shirley—or rather the fact that she was still in his room without moving an inch. He then turned his eyes away from the screen and towards Shirley, finally taking notice of her teary eyes.
Shirley finally spoke up after another ten seconds. “I will make sure it never happens again,” she said, her voice trembling as the words came out. But as she was about to stand up, Morgan interrupted.
“Is everything alright?”
Shirley stood up, her eyes focused on the floor beneath her still, but after a second or two she sat down again. “I am wondering if it is possible to cash in my vacation days … I … I think I still have ten days left,” she responded.
That’d be difficult. I don’t think our policies can accommodate that. The finance department will not approve that either,” replied Morgan.
Shirley sat there without a word.
“Why?” Morgan asked, again, after a few seconds of absolute silence.
“The radiator at my house broke down last week, and my kids caught a cold. They’re also running out of warm clothes to wear,” she responded. After a few seconds she continued, “You know, kids grow up so fast … their old clothes don’t fit anymore, I need to get the radiator fixed and get them something new to wear, but with my mother’s hospital bill …” She couldn’t hold back her tears anymore.
Morgan finally leaned forward from his chair, taking out a few napkins from beneath his desk and passing them on to Shirley. He then stared at his own desk, drenched in his own thoughts. He took off his glasses, took out his handkerchief from his chest pocket, and gave the glasses a good wipe before putting them back on.
“how old are they? your kids,” he decided to break the silence.
shirley’s sobbing softened, and she was finally able to speak up. “seven and ten. they grow up so fast, you know …” she responded.
morgan leaned back against his chair, took a look at one of the pictures on his desk, and turned his eyes towards the endless white clouds outside the window.
the air was still in the room—there was a deafening silence between the two of them. but after a long pause, he finally spoke up again. “you know, my boys would’ve been around the same age …”
Shirley finally took her eyes away from the floor and took a good look at her boss, his glasses all fogged up, and he simply kept staring at the clouds.
“I … I am so sorry to hear that …” Shirley decided that was the only appropriate response she could offer.
“Brilliant boys too. One of them was even the leader of his soccer team,” Morgan responded, his eyes remained fixated on the clouds outside.
There was a strange stillness in the air. Shirley had been working in the department for two years, but this was the first time her boss ever spoke of his personal life.
After a long pause, Morgan finally took off his glasses, left them on the table, and grabbed his handkerchief to wipe off his tears. “Last Friday would’ve been one of their birthdays as well,” he let off a tender smile as he said it.
He then turned towards Shirley again. Meanwhile, he opened the drawer underneath, took out his checkbook, and started writing on it.
“Here. That should be able to cover the bill for the radiator and get your kids some new clothes,” he said. He then tore off the cheque and passed it on to Shirley.
“I … I cannot take that.”
“Don’t worry about it. It’s the best I can do.”
“I said, don’t worry about it.”
Shirley took the cheque and started sobbing again. “Thank you … really, thank you so very much …” her voice trembled as she thanked Morgan for what he did.
As Shirley reached for the door, Morgan interrupted her again. “Are you and your family doing anything for Thanksgiving? It’s coming up next week,” he asked
“No … maybe I will make some lasagna for my kids. They love lasagna,” she replied.
“Wanna come over to my house for Thanksgiving? My wife would love that—I will make sure she prepares some lasagna as well,” he said with a tender smile on his face.
“Sure … that’d be lovely,” she said with a tender smile on her face as well.
After Shirley left the room, Morgan took a good look at one of the pictures on his desk again. He looked at those faces in the frame—the boys smiled at him, the smiles forever sealed behind the glass frame.
He smiled back at them.
What can we learn from this story?
Compassion can go a long way. We all have our problems, and sometimes they are not that obvious. But with a bit of compassion, we can relate to one another and lend a helping hand whenever the need arises. At times, helping others can also end up helping yourself too.