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Monday, March 07, 2016


by F.I. Goldhaber

I saw you limp into the cellphone store and
beg for help with a phone disconnected by
a rival's service.

Behind the counter teenagers rattled off
terms you obviously didn't understand.
I called you over.

I explained in words of simpler times -- before
the clerks were born. But, despite a balance, your
phone had been turned off.

T-Mobile demanded more money, which you
did not have, to turn it back on and wouldn't
refund your credit.

When you complained, they called the mall cops to throw
you out. Your story angered me, so I marched
down the street with you.

On the way to another T-Mobile store,
I learned you were a disabled Navy vet.
You told me stories.

When we arrived, I informed the clerk, "This man
needs his phone turned back on and I am here to
make sure you do that."

He looked in his computer. You showed him your
receipt. You stepped out to use my husband's phone
to ask for a ride.

He made a phone call and negotiated
with the person on line. You came back in to
hear your phone ringing.

I thanked the young man for his efforts. Thrilled, you
asked how I'd accomplished this miracle. I
whispered in your ear.

"Little old white lady," I said, much to your
amusement. For I can pass for white and took
advantage of that.

The clerks didn't see a man disabled in
service to the country they take for granted,
only dark brown skin.

As I left, I heard you gleefully shouting,
"Little old white lady." I'm glad I could help.
But, I'm not amused.

As a reporter, editor, business writer, and marketing communications consultant, F.I. Goldhaber produced news stories, feature articles, essays, editorial columns, and reviews for newspapers, corporations, governments, and non-profits in five states. Now, her poems, short stories, novelettes, essays, and reviews appear in paper, electronic, and audio magazines, ezines, newspapers, calendars, and anthologies.