Posted by: Beth | August 21, 2021

The Handshake

A rarity for our family happened recently.  Chuck and I were in the car together – alone – for several hours.  As our conversation jumped from one topic to another and sometimes back, we touched upon his leaving ATS.  For those who may not already know, “leaving” is a polite word.  He was fired.  Terminated.  For a safety violation.  No matter how small or dangerous (or not) a violation is, the rule is zero tolerance.  He was walked out the door without even locking up his tools.  During our travels, we couldn’t remember for sure which month it was.  We knew the anniversary was approaching.

Later that day, in Harbor Freight, I noticed Chuck talking with someone.  I walked over and joined the conversation.  The chatter was friendly and newsy – of raising grandchildren and learning new things and kids going off to college.  Chuck introduced us and I knew the name was familiar, but couldn’t quite put any significance with it. With a handshake, “Good to see you,” and “Safe travels” we parted ways.

The next day I was doing some catching up in my Ten Year Journal.  I love that book.  On each page is space for four lines about events on that date – for ten consecutive years.  I’m in year six in this one.  No, I don’t write every day.  There may be some important events that aren’t recorded.  Some silly ones are recorded.  A lot of it is mundane. When I flip through I wonder why I leave so many blank spaces.  Sometimes before or just after I write I’ll read what happened the years before.  Sometimes my heart aches.  Sometimes I laugh.  Often I smile – either at what happened or how well a person has done since the recorded event.  Anyway – I noticed that the day before was the one-year anniversary of Chuck being walked out the door at work.  I told Chuck that and he said, “You mean exactly one year ago the man I shook hands with started the paperwork that terminated me?”

“Yep, exactly a year.”


Several times recently I’ve seen a meme on social media that your struggles can make you bitter or make you better.  This one has definitely made things better.  Was the process of being fired and deciding what to do next good or fun or anything positive?  No, not really.  Did we get through it?  Well, yeah, here we are. Have some positive things happened because Chuck is home all the time?  Yes, yes, yes.  Wait – no, he isn’t really home all the time.  He’s a little like my daddy, who a few months after retirement said, “I might have to go back to work to get some rest.”  Everyone who knew Daddy or knows Chuck knows they don’t rest while at work.  Life stays busy even after retirement.

I think I wanted to share this because there is so much negativity in the air and on social media these days.  Part of it is someone intentionally making bad or mediocre things worse.  Most of it is simply the way life is right now – for a variety of reasons, life is just hard.

BUT – even in the hard, negative-energy filled times, there is hope.  Two men who butted heads at work.  One had to (company policy) terminate the other.  And they had a pleasant conversation and shook hands.  We have the option of letting time and God make things better.

But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. – Isaiah 43:1


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