There are many memories of working in my late father’s tackle shop and I feel compelled to share one with you.
It was Christmas day 1985, about three in the afternoon. A customer placed his minnow bucket by the bait tank and thrust his hands back into his pockets. I greeted him as I poured water into his bucket and asked how his Christmas day was going so far. “Not so good” he sighed. “How’s that” I asked while counting his minnows. “My wife and I divorced a few months back and I’m really missing my kids today”. “Well, at least you’re going fishing” I quickly replied. “Yeah, I suppose” he mumbled and shuffled towards the register.
My mind raced as we met at the counter and said “Minnows are free on Christmas day” and wished him good luck. He nearly smiled, for just a second and he thanked me as he walked out.
As he left the store, I knew I had failed him. How hard would it have been for me to invite him to dinner or to just reach out to him in some way? I felt terrible and wished I had done more. I wouldn’t understand how much this experience would affect me down the road.
I’ve thought of that man at least 24 times since that day.