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ALONE ON CHRISTMAS


George Mason’s life was centered in his business. He lived alone and refused all invitations to socialize. His brother’s family had urged him to visit but the children always made too much noise. Besides, he didn’t want to buy presents for his nephews and nieces. Instead he bought some good records for himself and planned to listen to them and enjoy himself at home alone. On Christmas Eve after his employees left, George Mason went into the office vault to get a little extra cash. Soundlessly on newly oiled hinges, the great door swung shut behind him. Sudden darkness and the final click of the automatic lock startled him and he panicked. Desperately he pounded on the door, but before long he realized that no one would hear him. Everyone had gone home and he was in the office alone. Even the cleaning woman had gone. He recalled hearing of people suffocating in vaults. He was frightened out of his wits. Maybe he could make it through the night if he was quiet and breathed slowly. In the morning the employees would arrive, open the vault and he would be fine.

The he remembered that tomorrow was Christmas. The office was closed. Everyone would be at their homes. No work, no people, no luck! Rats! His heart pounded with fear and he wondered if he could get enough air to last two days. He calmed himself and tried to think. It was a new vault. It seems like the salesman said it has a safety feature of an air hole. He began feeling around in the darkness. All around and then up and down before he finally located a screened hole at the top. It was too small for a thief but large enough for air.

He sat on the cold floor of the vault and began his vigil of waiting for Christmas. Christmas Eve passed, Christmas Day passed. He had wanted to be alone for Christmas but not this way. He was extremely uncomfortable, hungry and thirsty. He needed to use the toilet. The air was getting damp and cold. It was awful. The darkness was so intense it was almost brushing his face.

The day after Christmas the chief cashier arrived and disengaged the automatic lock of the vault but did not open the door. Without anyone seeing him George Mason staggered out of the safe and made his way to the water cooler. He grabbed his coat and hailed a taxi and went home to his lonely residence. Later in the day he returned to the office. No one had missed him. As he pondered his experience he decided to make a sign and place it beside the safe door. It was for all to read but it was a reminder to him. The words were: "To love people, to be needed somewhere, that is the purpose of life. That is the secret of happiness."

Although George never married he had learned a valuable lesson about family and the need for one another.


SOURCE: from "The Man Who Missed Christmas" by J. Edgar Park.



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