I’m bringing out an old story I wrote for an anthology. Hope you enjoy it.
The First Day of The Last Job
I went to my father for some advice about a couple of job offers I was considering. The one with the insurance company paid well, but didn’t sound too exciting. The other was with the parks department, which would have me working outside, but the pay wasn’t good. I was definitely the outdoor type, but I was leaning toward the higher paying job.
My father listened to my spiel about the pros and cons of both offers. He had retired after being a sanitation worker in New York for twenty-six years, so I figured he had the experience to give me some advice. When I was finished, I expected to hear some words of wisdom, but instead my dad got up and left the table.
When he came back, he didn’t say a word. He placed a weathered piece of paper down in front of me, walked across the kitchen, and then started to make a pot of coffee.
“What’s this,” I asked.
I unfolded the stained piece of paper.
Dear Mr. Byler, I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated the opportunity to work for your company. I really enjoyed my job there and wish I could have stayed, but unfortunately due to financial reasons I had to change careers. Today is my first day at-
The letter had been wet at some point, making the rest of it unreadable.
I looked up. My father was pouring himself a cup of coffee. “What is this? Did you write this?”
“Did you read it?”
I looked at the bottom of the page again to make sure I wasn’t missing something. It was very worn and stained but there was nothing else to read. “Yeah, I read it.”
My father didn’t say anything. He just gave me a look that told me I was missing something. I read through the letter again, and then took a closer look at the top of the page. There was some sort of company logo. It was too faded to make out, but part of the address was still visible.
102nd floor WTC1, Lower Manhattan, New York City
“You see that date?” My father asked.
On the right side of the page, I found the date.
September 11th, 2001
My jaw dropped. Suddenly I realized what I was holding. “You found this during the cleanup?”
He nodded. “Whoever wrote that, probably died while doing a job they didn’t enjoy, and all for a little more money. That person never knew his first day of work in the World Trade Center would be his last.” He paused. “What do you want to be doing when your last day comes?”
“Something I enjoy,” I said.
“Then you have your answer.”