Rewrite your First Person story from Week One
For the Greater Good by Sojourner McConnell
I have been a banker since graduating High School. I attended Night school while working at the bank to get my degree in Accounting. I was used to sad stories, stories of the downtrodden, the hopeful and the unworthy. It was one of the duties as a personal banker that I did not like. It was a normal day when I had the meeting with Roger Banks. I knew his father well, and I knew more about him that he might imagine. I was sorry to hear that Mr. Oliver Banks, his father and one of my clients, had passed away. I knew that it would be hard on the son as the trust fund would not transfer over to him. I had heard some unsettling news of his sense of entitlement from his own father’s lips. O
liver Banks always felt like he had failed his son by not making him more financially astute. Oliver was always embarrassed by Roger’s belief that he did not have to work hard for anything.
When young Banks showed up at my office this morning I was not surprised. Even thought he had never felt the need to come to me before, I expected him to come find out about his inheritance. I knew he had been given an ample allowance by his father. I had set up the trust fund originally.
When I saw young Roger in the lobby, I prepared for begging and pleading to release more funds. I did not relish the thought of explaining to him that he had been basically cut off without a penny.There were details that I was not privy to in the will. Those were not under my scope as personal banker.
I welcomed Roger when he was reaching my office. He looked sad, angry and a little bewildered.
He held out his hand and said, “Hello Mr. Conrad, thank you for meeting with me. I believe you were my father’s personal banker?” I shook his outstretched hand as I told him, “I was sorry to hear about your father. He was a good man. We shared a lot of afternoons together going over his finances. Let’s talk in my office.”
We entered my office and I motioned for him to take a seat. “I am sorry to hear of your father’s passing. I enjoyed working with your father. Oliver was a wonderful man.”
He began to speak with a shaky voice. “Thank you for seeing me, I am in need of some advice, and finances. I am here because you did know my father. To be up front and frank with you, Mr. Conrad, I need finances in order to complete his wishes in his will. He wanted me to continue his good work, and I feel compelled to do my best to accomplish his last desire.”
I listened to him and when he slowed, I encouraged him to continue.
He took a breath, his eyes were cast down and his head bent. His tone was quiet but sincere. “My father had a secret life, a part of his life that he never told anyone about. He had been born a twin. His twin was not a hard worker like Dad was. Dad and Uncle Carl were as different as day and night. Carl kept getting in trouble as a teenager and young man. By the time he was twenty five he had been to prison for grand larceny. He was given twenty years. When he got out, he was expected to be reformed and be willing to stay out of trouble.”
When he stopped speaking once again I prompted him to tell me more. I wasn’t sure what this had to do with me, but I was indeed curious. I simple said, “Go ahead, Roger.”
Nodding his head, gathering his thought he did speak again. “There was a problem in this. There was nowhere for him to go. My mother did not want him to come live with us. She didn’t trust him. It was sad, but she believed he would rob us blind. He ended up homeless and on the streets, supplementing his income with petty thefts. As you might have suspected, he was arrested again. Once again there he was spending more time in the local jail until his court date. Months went by and he was calling collect to the house. Occasionally getting through to my dad, most of the time being thwarted by my mother. My Mother never wanted him to be in her world.”
I could see he was nervous. His hands were fidgeting in his lap and his voice was raw with emotion.
“Why I am here meeting with you, is to ask for funds to open this halfway house. Fully funded and supported by a foundation I am to set up anonymously. This was the test my Father has put in place with his will. It states that I do not inherit enough to live on much less support this foundation unless I can find the funds to complete this project. I have come to you, with no credit of my own, to ask you to fund this project with the understanding that once the home is built and opened, I will have all the funds needed to pay the loan and support the foundation. If I am able to secure this loan from you, then many men will be helped. Taught to read, taught to make their resume, balance a checkbook. They will in essence be given an opportunity to thrive after prison.”
I tried to not let him see that his story was affecting me greatly. I kept my hands on my desk as he finished speaking.
“The project must be done anonymously. I am not even sure if they will appreciate me confiding in you, but I am asking you to respect my confidence. But I need this loan desperately. My uncle needs it. He is to be released in one year and that is my deadline on finishing the house.”
When he concluded, I nodded to him showing that I understood what all he had shared with me. I felt honored that he had confided in me and I assured him I would do my best with the board. I asked him to give me one week. I went to the board and without sharing the details of his conversation, I guaranteed his loan personally. I assured the board that they would get their money back if we were to back this project. It took almost three full days, but I was able to persuade them to agree.
On the afternoon of the third day, I called Roger. I could tell he was anxious, I could hear it in his voice and he had picked up on the first ring. When he said his expectant “Hello” I responded.
“Hello Roger, This is Elijah Conrad.” I could hear his breathing heavy and rapid through the phone. I went on eager to tell him the good news. “I hope you realize how much talking I had to do to get your loan approved.” I took a breath and could hear his own intake of breath.
“ I did not tell your story. I assured the board that they would be paid back. I guaranteed that fact to the board. We did it Roger! The loan is approved and the project can start immediately. I have promised you to help you and I hope you realize that means I will never tell your story to anyone, ever!”
I ended the call after a few more moments. I felt that deep satisfaction that comes with doing something for the greater good. I heard from Roger on occasion over the next several months. It was almost one year later. I believe it was eleven months, to be exact, that I received a letter in the mail.
The letter had a sturdiness to it that comes from card stock. I saw there was no return address and I grew very curious. Once I opened the envelope I could see that it was an invitation to a ribbon cutting. A smile began to crawl across my face. I read the words once, then once again.
A Home of New Beginnings
Founded by the Father’s Brother Foundation
A sense of pride came over me. I knew at that moment that I had made a good decision indeed. It was with great happiness that I attended the ribbon cutting of the halfway house that Roger had successfully opened. I knew I would never tell anyone the secrets that Roger had shared. The house would open just in time for his Uncle to be released from prison. I felt confident that with the support of his family, it would be for the last time.