“Problems? You’re complaining about your so called problems?” he growled at a pair of teenage girls bemoaning their lack of money to go shopping for clothes they did not need after they flagged down a janitor to clean up the mess they made of their meals.
One gave the scruffy looking man a dirty look. A blind man could see she didn’t care. He, however, wouldn’t accept that.
“Let me tell you a little about real problems. I didn’t start out working as a janitor here at the mall. I don’t enjoy cleaning up after brats so spoiled their biggest issue is money for more stuff they don’t need.
“I graduated. Then I joined the military. I got shipped out, separated from my girlfriend and our son. I watched several friends get torn apart by bombs. I had to choose between stopping a convoy and putting more friends at risk or hitting a kid standing in the road. When I got back I couldn’t sleep because of the memories. Going outside terrified me. I even assaulted my girlfriend once not realizing who she was because of the memories. They left for their safety. I was too unpredictable. I don’t know if I’ll ever see them again.
“I did this for the people who live here. I did this for my family. I did this for girls like you so you could go shopping in public without fear.”
I could see his words hit home for them. They squirmed in their seats, trading guilty looks.
“You’re right. We should be happier for what we have,” one mumbled into her ice cream.
“Just remember – no matter how bad you have it, there is always someone else who has it worse,” the man finished cleaning and walked away.
Listening to him made me realize it was time for me to change the way I looked at things as well. I needed to do something more with my life. I couldn’t take it for granted anymore.