Broken Hearted More Than Once

Broken Hearted More Than OnceWhen I graduated from high school the war in Vietnam was in full gear and the draft into the armed forces for seniors was something to fear. A lottery of social security numbers that were placed in a glass jar and drawn at random meant that every young teen boy’s name was liable to be drafted. Sometimes it was done live on the black and white television sets that existed at that time. The newspapers would pick it up the next day and print the last four digits that ended in certain numbers and tell the American People that a letter would be fore coming stating, “You have been drafted into the Army by the United States Of America Government.”I knew my number would be picked soon and so I decided not to make any attempt to go to college. My parents were poor, I hadn’t taken the courses to prepare me for an up level education, and I had no will to further my career. I went out and just got a job to hold me over until that dreadful letter would arrive. I must’ve had a sixth sense or something because six months later my premonition came true.My first job out of school was working at a restaurant at the Holiday Inn as a busboy. Soon as the customer left the table it was up to me to clean it up, set it up, and then take the dirty dishes to the kitchen to be washed. Sometimes I loaded up the cart with a tray of dishes and take them back there when the restaurant was very busy.The waiters and waitresses wanted the tables set up right away so that other customers would quickly be seated. I couldn’t blame them because they made a lot of money on tips and if I did the job right, I would get a ten percent cut out of it. It was just enough to make my own spending money for the weekends. I wasn’t crazy about the job, but I did my best. Sometimes they would let me serve the coffee if the customers were the usual ones that came back often.One day a man came to the restaurant just for some coffee and told the waitress to let me serve it. When she told me that the man had asked for me to serve him I became suspicious. I thought for sure I had done something wrong. When I went to get the coffee pot my boss walked in and sat at the table with him. Boy, I thought for sure that I was about to get canned. I needed that small job even if it didn’t pay very much.I was gracious as I politely served them both and gingerly walked away. I was ready to hear them call me back and tell me that the man had complained about my work. Since he was a returning customer I had often served him when he had asked me to. Sometimes his waitress was very busy and he would ask me for some more coffee. I never really thought much of it before, but on this one day it felt strange that he had requested for me to serve him and my boss from the get go. Even when the waitress told me of his demand she seemed just as stunned as I was.Since I didn’t hear their voices summons me I proceeded to do my other chores. Inside of my head I could envision them planning to fire me. Every move I made was being watched and then my boss left the table. He motioned to me to serve that man that had a nice tan and seemed very athletic. When I poured coffee into his cup he made conversation and I responded only for a moment because my job was not to linger around and talk.He took big gulps of coffee and asked me to serve him some more. Again he conversed with me, but this time he asked questions which I mannerly answered. As I tried to walk away he would rapid fired more questions and made it difficult for me to go back to my other chores. The more I attempted to walk away, the greater degree of difficulty of questioning.Finally, he looked me straight into my eyes and said, “Please sit down.”I answered him with, “Im sorry sir, but my boss would not approve of me lingering around the table and not doing my other work. He pays me to do my job and I don’t want to loose it.”His response was, “See your boss standing over there? He’s waving and letting you know that it’s okay. I have told him about what I am going to say, so just sit down. I have been watching you for quite awhile. Oh, by the way, I am Jorge McKay and I am the pro at the Harlingen Country Golf Club. We just opened about a week ago and I am looking for a young man to work at the pro shop with me. I like your manners, the way you conduct yourself, your honesty as your boss told me about that incident about working extra days, and the way you go about doing your business. I want to hire you. Now, what do you know about the game of golf?”My immediate words were, "I used to caddie at a golf course, but I wasn’t very good at it. I don’t know much about the rules. I’ve watched it on television and enjoyed the game, but I have never hit a golf ball. I am probably not the person you were looking for I assume! "“As a matter of fact, it’s your honesty that really sold me here. I will teach you how to run the pro shop and start you at an hourly rate of three dollars an hour. If things work out for us, then we will see about keeping you. So what do you say to this? " He happily finished the conversation.I was flabbergasted because three dollars in those days was way out of my league. I took the job that day and went with him to learn the ropes. I took my apron off and folded it gently as those in the restaurant watched the smile on my face. They were all happy for me including the waitress that had brought me the news of that man asking for me to serve him coffee.After the first week of work I had picked up a lot about doing my job. My personality went well with the clients and they told my boss about it. My tips per day were just, if not more that what my hourly salary was. I learned all of the rich people’s names from the country club members and I served them well. As a matter of fact I did so good that the pro gave me a raise after just two short weeks. He was afraid that I might not stay so he started to give me French benefits.After six months of working there I was so happy and I believed that I had the best job in the world. The pro told me that at the end of the month he was going to teach me how to play golf so that I could help the beginners. He hired another person and placed him under me. He gave him more chores to do and told me to solely work the pro shop and to forget all of the other little odds and ends. I was to be his next in command and the board of directors wanted to talk to me before giving that big promotion.I was ecstatic as I drove home that evening hoping to make my mom even prouder of myself for having reached that level of work. When I walked in the front door I could see my mom sitting at the dinner table. She didn’t appear to be happy to see me arrive as always. I sensed something was wrong and thought about the worst since my father and mother were divorced. I asked, "What’s wrong mom? "She gave me a letter that was addressed to me as I saw her swollen eyes and how they had been shedding tears. The returned address was the first thing that caught my eye. It was from the United States Government Office and we both sensed what it must have said. I opened it and read it silently at first and then I read it to her.My mother placed her head on my chest and cried some more. It took a while for her to get a hold of herself and then we engaged in fruitful conversation about my draft notice into the Army of the United States of America. I didn’t tell her about the good news about my promotion, or the big raise I was about to get. Instead, we spoke about the day I was due at the bus station or bus stop where I would board and head on to training camp.My heart was broken and I knew my girlfriend would not take it easy. It wasn’t that I was scared because of the war in Vietnam was on, or that I was leaving the ones I loved back home. As a matter of fact since I was old enough to play with toys, my first and favorite playthings were the miniature soldiers. I would play war games and dreamed about being a soldier someday. However, even though I knew that the first job out of high school was just to pass the time away until the draft, somehow, it had come at the wrong time.The job at the pro golf shop was my new dream. I was moving up in the world, I loved every sport even though I never had time to play them. I was about to learn how to play golf from a professional that had gone on tour. How could this be happening to me?It took me a while to finally tell my boss and the board of directors at the country club. They didn’t want me to go and told me that if I had told them sooner that they might have had a chance to keep me out. They knew senators and congressmen and if I still wanted them to do it, then perhaps they could get me out in about six months.A month after that letter arrived at my mother’s government apartment I loaded the bus and headed to basic training in Fort Lewis Washington. I was assured that once I completed my tour of duty in the army I was guaranteed my job back at the pro shop at the country club. It was the law.When I came back I secretly visited that job site. I saw the person that had taken my job. He was doing great and I could see the smile on his face as he did his job. I reminisced my first smile when I took the job, the second when I got a raise, the third smile when they were giving me that promotion, and then I walked away from the country club never to walk on those grounds again.My heart was broken again, but I didn’t have it in my heart to take away that young man’s job because it had been mine before. I didn’t have the guts to yank his rank to gain mine. I had become a different man while serving my country and receiving the Purple Heart for wounds in combat. This new highly decorated veteran had grown far beyond what anybody understood. He had morals, he had pride, his heart was broken, but he would survive.

Copyright © 2008 Oscarelizondo

Broken Hearted More Than Once


Harlingen, United States

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Artist's Description

Sometimes things happen for a reason. I reminisced about a job I once had and wished I had kept. It broke my heart to loose it, but I became a better man for what I did.



Artwork Comments

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  • oscarelizondo
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