I was wrong about Clinton
by Herman Labuschagne

Eden Express article, 2013-08-25 

 

We so easily misjudge people. One day a boy came to me in search of work. He looked about 17, neatly dressed in crisp blue overalls, wearing new factory shoes and riding a shining red bicycle. He said his name was Clinton, and quickly added that his mother had committed suicide, his blind father was in jail, and he was the sole provider for all his little brothers and sisters. I cringed when I heard his story. I already felt sorry enough for this blond haired, blue-eyed boy who looked so enthusiastic about what would be a soul-destroying factory job. I really didn’t need a tall story to soften me.

 

I gave him a trial job for the day – sweeping the floors and tidying the yard, which he did with far more speed than skill. When he was done I was relieved to pay him his wage and wish him luck elsewhere.

 

About a year later I arrived at the office one day and the cleaning girl told me: “Oh by the way – we have a new employee. His name is Clinton.”

I cringed.

“Who employed him?” I asked.

“The madam did,” she smiled.

I wished she’d cleared it with me first, but it was now too late to change it. Clinton was hired.

 

As the days became months, I noticed that Clinton fitted in tremendously well. The older workers always made him do the worst of jobs in the factory. But Clinton never complained. He was always on time. He was always the cleanest worker. He did even the meanest work with unbelievable enthusiasm. I also found out that everything he told me had been true.

 

One day Clinton came to thank us for everything we’d done for him. He said he had been offered a better paying job and asked it if would be OK if he could pursue this opportunity. We released him with our blessing and he went on to build a better life. I think about Clinton quite often. I never thought it could feel so good to be so wrong about somebody so deserving.