Psychology 101

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Two Rivers

Chapter 3 (v.1) - Joe Gets Set Up

Submitted: January 15, 2018

Reads: 53

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Submitted: January 15, 2018



Joe Miller found a corner near the Empire State Building.  It would be a good spot near Wall Street, but not too close, those rich bastards never give money to anybody.  He thought, “Maybe that’s why they are rich.”  Anyway, there was an old man just across the street with his sign begging money.  He thought of the hundred dollars, Professor Ryan said he could make.  This was going to be like shooting fish in a barrel. 

He threw his backpack on the sidewalk and sat down on it.  He held his sign for a while, but then lean it against the building.  The first guy came along and said, “Get a job, you lazy ass!”

“I’m going to college,” Joe yelled back.  “You ever thought of helping someone?”  The guy gave him a gesture and walked on.

The man across the street yelled at him, “This is my space.  Move on, turkey.”

“It’s a free country, old man!” Joe yelled back.  He noticed people put money in the old man’s hand. 

The day was nearly over when a guy stopped for a light got out of his car and ran around it shoved thirty dollars in Joe’s hand.  “Thank you,” Joe said surprised.  Then a car with two young teenagers about Joe’s age pulled up the fellow on the passenger side of the car threw a wadded twenty dollar bill at Joe.  Joe retrieved it before it blew down the street.  The guy laughed as Joe ran after it. 

At the end of the day, Joe had $76.33.  “Well, it wasn’t a hundred dollars, like Professor Ryan had promised, but it wasn’t bad either.  It’s better than minimum wage,” he thought.  The old man yelled at him from across the street.  “How did you?”

“Seventy-six dollars,” Joe yelled back.

“Ha!  I made two hundred!” the old man yelled back.  “You’ll catch on!” Joe packed his cardboard sign in his backpack; he considered what the old man had said.  The old man was right.  Yet, he had made over $76.00 just sitting on his can doing nothing.  This was going to be a one-time deal, but why not use it as a part-time job. 

The next day Joe showed up in old clothes he had got from the resale store and old hat.  He decided to let his beard grow.  He’d have a full beard in a week.  “Now, you’re talking!” the old man yelled at him.  On the day he received $156.89 that was better.  He added “God bless, you” to his usual thank you.

One day a young lady stood in front of him.  She was his age, but she thought he was her father’s age.  “What happened to you?”

“Life,” he said.  “Life happened to me.”

“I ain’t buying it.  You could have had anything if you had just reached for it,” she said.  “I asked for a penny, and that’s what life gave me,” she said, quoting some poem, or something.  “Your friend across the street, he died today.  He wanted a penny and that’s all he got, just a penny.”  He looked past her.  The old man was not there.  She pulled a penny out of her jeans pocket and handed it to him.  That’s all you are getting from me because that all you bargained for.  He held the penny for a moment as she walked away; he wanted to run after her and tell her who he really was and that he was her age.  Then thought of the nap sack he traded for a backpack and the five hundred dollars he had in there.  This was too good of a deal to run after some girl.  But he really liked her and hoped she’d come back.  She didn’t. 

The old man had left his three-legged stool over across the street and he went over and picked it up.  He got tired sitting on a blanket.  Then people began stopping a talking to him and asking for advice about everything.  He was becoming known as the begging guru.  A lady from local news even came and interviewed him.  She wanted him to reveal how much he really made, and he wouldn’t tell her. 

On final day when he was about to call it quits, he looked up to see his dad standing in front of him, he handed Joe 20 hundred dollar bills.  “Thank you, God bless you!”  Joe said out of habit.  

“Can we talk?” his dad said.  Joe thought he was going to preach to him again.  But as he talked Joe realized his dad didn’t recognize him.  Joe had moved out and had gotten his own place and hadn’t been home for nearly five months. 

His dad sat down there beside him on concrete and poured out his heart.  He’d never heard his dad talk that.  “You know, when I was high school, I wanted to be a missionary.”  Joe could hardly believe his ears.  “Yeah, then I got a full ride to West Point and just stayed in the military.  I even put in for Chaplin service.  But that wasn’t going to happen not after West Point.  They had too much invested my war training.  My son, Joe, I’ve been too hard on him.  I always wanted the best for him.  I didn’t want him to waste his life like I did, doing something I hated.  Maybe my anger was misdirected towards him.  I don’t know.”  His sat there staring into space.  Then he got up.  “Thanks for letting me ramble on.  That’s what old men do, right?”

“Yeah, I guess,” Joe said.  He watched as his dad shuffled off.  He now had $3000 in his backpack.  He looked down the street and saw a Salvation Army on the corner of the building.  He stood there and thought, “My dad was just in the wrong army.”  He walked down to the Salvation Army building and gave them the whole $3000.  “I want to give you this in the name of Michael Miller, my dad.”

“God bless,” the lady said. 

“God bless you,” Joe said.  This time he meant it.


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