Orlando, Florida - Print Journalism
On a particular Monday, tucked into a corner formed by Winter Street and
Park Avenue, a young boy stood tantalized by the sight of fortune
cookies that sat in a jar in a coffee shop window. The boy solicited
from his father the nickel that would win him the satisfaction of
nibbling at that morsel which teased him. The young boy entered the
shop, but as he reached into his pocket to exchange the nickel for a
fortune cookie, all he found was a hole where the money should have
The storeowner, realizing the boy’s
dilemma, handed him the small, packaged dessert and waived the payment.
The boy delightedly took it from her, broke his gift in two and ate one
half of it. He handed the other half to the owner and politely asked her
to read what the red letters on the paper slip said. She took the paper
out of its hiding place and handed the half of the fortune cookie back
to the boy. “Love thy neighbor,” she read and handed the small slip to
him. Familiar with the phrase from Sunday school, he tucked the paper
into his pocket (the one without the hole) and the words into his heart.
That night, he decided to do a kind
deed for his mother as he watched her fall asleep on the couch. He
kissed her goodnight and went to the kitchen to prepare her breakfast
for the morning. When he was finished, he slipped the red-lettered paper
into her wallet as a gift to her. In the morning, the mother read this
note, written by the father, on the fridge: “Your son made your
breakfast last night. He insisted on it. It’s in the fridge.” Though the
cereal was soggy from soaking in milk while she’d slept, it was the best
breakfast the mother had ever had.
In high spirits, she left for the
same shop her son visited the day before and ordered her customary cup
of java. Mistakenly, she had laid out a twenty-dollar bill for the
waiter’s tip. When she went to retrieve it, she remembered her son, was
filled with his thoughtfulness, and left the money on the table.
That morning, the waiter felt relieved to finally see green paper from
one of his customers. Usually, they left mere change for his stupendous
services. But when he saw that this customer’s tip was more than
Washington, Lincoln, and Hamilton combined, his anger softened and
melted into a gentle tranquility. He scooped the cash into his apron
along with the coins already there and took with the money the little
piece of paper that had unwittingly been laid out as well.
On his way home, the waiter met a
lady whose hands were fumbling inside her pocketbook to find change to
fill an expired parking meter. Cheerfully, the waiter reached into his
pocket, pulled out all the change that he had made that morning and
offered it to her. Astonished, the lady accepted the coins, but when she
sought to hand back the excess, the waiter was already on his way. She
noticed a tiny piece of paper among the handful of coins, but she paid
little attention to it.
She hurried into a bookstore and
continued to read the novel in which she had been thoroughly engrossed.
Hours later, when she looked at the clock, she was alarmed at the time.
She jumped up and searched frantically for something to mark her place
but found nothing at hand. She remembered the little piece of paper that
she had dismissed as insignificant, pulled it out from her pocket, and
set it between the pages. She rushed out of the store, nearly smashing
the small door as she slammed it into its frame.
The bookstore owner paid little
attention to that because his thoughts were elsewhere. As he prepared to
close his shop, his mind was on the house across the street from his
own. There was where his love lived. They both had each other’s hearts
for some time, and he was entertaining the thought of proposing;
however, he was still uncertain. He’d been pleading for God to show him
a sign, and when he went replace the book the woman had left on the
table, he found what appeared to be it. There between some pages was a
tiny slip of paper that read, “Love thy Neighbor”. He, being enraptured
with love set a pause between the first and second words, thus he
altered the meaning of the adage. Was his neighbor not his love? He
pondered. And was his love not his neighbor? He answered his questions
in the affirmative.
Not far from the bookstore, a young
lady returned home from work, and much like the owner of the bookstore,
her thoughts were weighed down by love, or, rather the likelihood of its
rejection. That experience had touched her too many times, and she was
certain that she knew the scent of a lost love. She stood at the window
looking down the sundrenched street, but seeing only the blue shirted
bowlegged postman as he slowly made his way from house to house, the
bulging post bag bouncing heavily on his hip. When he stopped at her
gate her heart nearly skipped a beat in agonizing anticipation. She was
expecting a letter, but not the one that she received. Enclosed in a red
envelope was the bookstore owner’s proposal, and at the bottom of the
letter, the bookstore owner had taped the well-traveled little piece of
The next day, at the coffee shop,
when the boy returned to pay the nickel that he felt he owed, he noticed
a shining stone on the coffee shop owner’s finger.