You grow up being told that you can do anything. That you can become anything. This is the land of opportunity, where every child can grow up to become the President.
For the longest time we believe it too. Most people spend their lives toiling away barely managing to keep their heads above water. Always thinking that tomorrow will be their day. Most are ok with this. They live their lives, blissfully unaware. They don't think about what life really is or what life should be. But what life should be and what could be are two entirely different things.
I found out later that his name was Branford. He had a life that most would see as better than average. A family, nice home and car, a decent job. Apparently life isn't what it seems to others. Branford was barely hanging on. All of his dreams and aspirations had vanished as the years went bye. He went to school, got a degree, found a good job, worked hard, had a good attitude. Always gave a little bit extra.
It's what he had been told all of his life, but no matter how hard he worked, no matter how much extra he gave, he kept falling.
He didn't ask for much from life, but he just kept falling.
That morning he went to work like every other day. It was raining. He tried to screw on a smile but there were none left. After years of smiling and faking it through the days when you have nothing extra to give, he had run out.
He stopped for a cheeseburger and soda. Drove to work where he stood in the men's room eating and pacing. Contemplating his life and where it had gone. Not at all the direction he wanted it to go. After years of believing, he had come to realize that most will always be servants. Mere peasants to work for the benefit of the few. The lucky few that just happen to be in the right place at the right time. The few that happen to know the right people or have the right connections. The few that had trust funds to fall back on.
Branford didn't know anyone. He had no connections. He had no trust fund. Occasionally he would buy a lottery ticket and then laugh at himself for paying the "poor tax". More of The Man telling us that we have a chance to get rich if we pay for their tickets. He would never be content with being a drone. He was capable of so much more. The curse of potential.
He cleaned himself up, adjusted his tie and ran his fingers through his hair. He rolled up his sleeve to expose his flesh. The needle poked a hole but only a drop of blood escaped. With a soft pressure the warmth that filled his veins began to burn. Staggering back into the wall his body slid to the floor collapsing in a heap. Briefly sobbing but not sure why, he found a smile.
He drifted away into oblivion. That's where I found him. On the floor. Broken and unwilling to continue. Branford gave up. He wanted to opt out and knew this would do it.
Who was I to interject myself into his life. This chance meeting between the two of us. I think it is the Japanese that believe you become responsible for a persons life if you save it. It crossed my mind. Do I want to be responsible for this strangers life? I'm barely responsible for my own. Who am I to say that what he's doing is wrong? I should close the door and walk away. Let his life unfold as it will.
He looked up at me with a thousand yard stare. He was almost where he wanted to be. So was it fate, karma, a divine intervention? Maybe something worse. Just plain dumb luck. But who's, his or mine? You can not make your own luck. I don't care what any one says. It was the second time I had heard that today.
I turned and started to push open the door. Instead, I reached for my cell phone. Shit. Now I'm responsible for him too.