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True Colors

By , Green Bay, WI

It seems like the whole world is against me!  I can never do anything right, and my life is a mess.  Mom would be very disappointed!, thought Mr. Cartwright as he looked at his rapidly growing business loan and mortgage for his apartment. Wilson Cartwright is a lonely middle-aged man living in a run-down, single-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, New York.  He is not married, and does not have any close friends except for the 10-year-old cocker spaniel, Mitzi, that he lives with.  He was raised Jewish by a single mother, after his father left them when he was seven.  His mom pushed him to be successful and to use his talents, which drove his desire to become rich.  He was a very good student while attending Columbia University, but dropped out after the first year to “strike it rich.”  He chose to accomplish this in the coffee business, reasoning that he could easily duplicate the success of chains such as Starbucks, especially with a catchy name like Cartwright’s Coffee, located in the heart of Park Slope.  Mr. Cartwright’s general business plan was to make a nearly 400 percent profit on a constantly growing industry that aligned well with his one disability, the fact that he was color blind.


At the start, his business grew phenomenally, and there was always a steady flow of customers throughout the morning, taking their time to savor their coffee before they would head off to work.  As time went on, the number of customers coming into his coffee shop slowly decreased, so to make up for the revenue loss, he raised the prices.  His clientele did not respond positively to these changes, including his most frequent customers, Bill and Rosa.  One day, Bill and Rosa stopped Mr. Cartwright to ask him, “Why have the prices been raised so much lately?  I can tell that the customers are not satisfied with the prices you're asking for your coffee.  Even as some of your biggest customers, Bill and I are a little disappointed,” questioned Rosa. 


“Times have been tough lately, and without enough business, I can’t make a sufficient amount of money to pay the bills.  I mean I can barely afford my one-bedroom apartment.  I don’t want to raise the prices, but it has to be done,” replied Wilson.


“You don’t understand, Mr. Cartwright.  You are only hurting your business by doing this,” responded Bill in a very harsh voice.


“There is nothing I can do!  My life is a mess, and this business is a failure,”  screamed Wilson.


Later, as Mr. Cartwright was sitting on the stained coach in the middle of his apartment, thinking about his lonely, unsuccessful life,  he decided that he needed to come up with a game plan fast, and told Mitzi “I will fix this, girl, don’t worry, I won’t let you be homeless.”


The next day,  at almost ten in the morning, the majority of the tables were shining since they had just been washed down.  The chairs were empty,  and the only people left were Bill and Rosa , still chatting about what they would end up doing for the rest of the beautiful spring day.  Mr. Cartwright opened the windows to the shop so that he could feel the cool spring breeze sweep through the room.  Right when he was about to close the shop for the day, he heard the front door swing open, and a group of five elderly people walked in.  One of them, a man, approached Mr. Cartwright, and as he got closer, Wilson started to notice something rather funny, and thought, That man is almost glowing.  Like an aura!  Wow this is amazing, I have never seen color like this before.


The man asked him kindly, “Do you mind if we stay for a little while, and have some coffee?”


Bill and Rosa were still talking, and since Wilson knew he needed the money, he decided to stay open for a little while longer, saying, “Sure, you may take any table that you want.  Just let me know what you want in terms of food and drinks.”  The entire time that he was there, Mr. Cartwright could not help but stare at him because he was mesmerized by his color.  While he was in the coffee shop, the man had a consistent smile and was cracking jokes, which made all of the people at his table smile.  He didn’t know what, but something about this man drew Mr. Cartwright to him and made him want to know more. Even after the man left, Wilson thought, Who is this “glowing” guy and what had just happened?.


When Mr. Cartwright woke up the next morning, he wondered if the man would show up to his coffee shop again.  When he opened, business seemed to be going as usual and there was no sign of him.  Then, arriving at about the same time as he had the day before, Wilson spotted the man as he pulled up in his beat up, old station wagon.  Suddenly, three other cars rolled up behind him and they all got out and walked towards the shop.  Just as Mr. Cartwright had predicted, he had brought his friends, and there were twelve of them in total. 
As they all shuffled through the door, he could hear the man say,  “This place is wonderful, and the coffee is great.  I am sure you won’t be disappointed!”
Mr. Cartwright greeted them and said, “Hello everyone, and welcome to Cartwright’s Coffee.  You may sit anywhere you like, especially considering it isn’t exactly that busy right now.”
“Okay, thank you very much.  I hope we aren’t too much of a problem.  I just had to come back with some more friends, because I had such a great experience yesterday,” the man quickly responded.
“Oh, that’s great!  I’m glad you could make it!”  Mr. Cartwright said, even though he couldn’t actually believe what he was hearing.  He hadn’t heard anyone say “I had such a great experience” in his coffee shop before.
Again, similar to the day before, the man was brightly lit up with color.  This is almost weird.  Maybe he is a gift from God, but yet, maybe my eyes are being deceived.  Either way, he shines rather oddly, speculated Wilson as he helped them to their seats. 


The entire group stayed for about an hour, and their laughs echoed throughout the shop. Without even noticing it, the group had let their bill run up to over fifty dollars.  Mr. Cartwright was thrilled with the money he was making, but he also noticed something else.  It seemed that as long as that group was in his coffee shop, there was a sort of magic that had never been part of his business before, and for the first time in a while, Mr. Cartwright actually enjoyed his job again.  Although the man seemed so welcoming, Mr. Cartwright had a tough time bringing himself to talk to him.  He wanted to meet him, but frankly, he was almost intimidated by his nearly over-joyous attitude.  After they had their fill, the group got up, thanked Mr. Cartwright, and left.


The following day, Mr. Cartwright was working in the coffee shop, and business was normal.  He was washing a table when a voice behind him said, “Excuse me, I just had coffee here, but when I walked out the door, I noticed that I was charged incorrectly.  Instead of being charged $5.23, my receipt says I was charged $5.73.  There must be a mistake.”


Mr. Cartwright took the receipt from the man and checked it over.  Everything seemed to be normal, and he did not see a problem in the prices, so he handed it back to the man saying, “This receipt is perfectly fine.  There were no additional charges.”


The man pointed out the mocha listed on the receipt, “It says here that the chocolate mocha that I ordered was $4.00, but every other time I have been here it was only $3.60.”


“That is because we increased the prices a couple days ago. You must not have noticed when you came in, but they are all listed correctly on the menu,” explained Wilson.


“This is ridiculous.  The prices here are becoming outrageous, and not to mention, the service sucks! I hope your happy losing another customer!”


Just as this angry customer was storming out the door, a man stepped out in front of him and said, “Sir, this is foolish.  Personally, I enjoy the coffee here and am willing to pay the extra cash.  This coffee shop owner works so hard all day long, and deserves a little respect.”


Mr. Cartwright looked over at the man that had just helped him, and noticed that is was the same shining guy from the previous couple days.  He wasn’t going to miss his opportunity this time, so he walked up to him and introduced himself, “Hi.  Thank you for helping me out with that situation.  I’m sure you already know this, but I am the owner of this place and my name is Wilson Cartwright,”  he said while extending his hand.  
The man shook Wilson’s hand and replied, “My name is Lovie Martin, and it is no problem.  I really do enjoy this coffee shop by the way, and I believe that it has a lot of potential.”


“Yeah, it was my dream to make this shop successful, but it never really worked out.  I have a question for you, though.”


“What is it?”
“I noticed that you are always happy and almost glowing with joy.  You come in here each day with an entire group of people, and you make them laugh constantly.  I have never seen anybody like you ever before.”
“Well, thank you, I guess.  I just try to be myself.”


“Well, you’ve got me intrigued, so would you have time to tell me more about you?”


Wilson  and Lovie talked for what seemed like an eternity, and soon seemed to be acting like best friends.  They talked about each of their lives, and Lovie told Wilson about some of his keys to happiness.  Even though Lovie wasn’t very rich or successful, he explained that, “As long as I know who I am, everything will work out, and I will be who I am meant to be.  Also, I always take opportunities to meet others and make them feel valued, because you never know how that affects them.  Eventually, others will do the same to you.”  After their talk was finished, Lovie left and while he was on his way out the door he said, “See you tomorrow, Wilson.”


Lovie and Wilson continued to talk in the coffee shop over the next few weeks, and Lovie shared some incredible wisdom and insight about life with Wilson.  Wilson was truly inspired by Lovie’s message, and was determined to turn his life around.  He realized that he needed to stop measuring his success based on how rich he was, and he just needed to work on slowly growing his business.  Also, Wilson now knew how to engage strangers in friendly conversation, which he hoped would end his loneliness.


As time went on Wilson built better relationships with his customers, and even made some good friends, which boosted the amount of business in his coffee shop each day.  Lovie’s group continued to grow, until everyday at the same time, a group of about twenty people, including Lovie, would come to the shop.  He was finally on track to being able to pay his business loan.


One day though, Wilson got a call telling him that his mom was very sick, and she only had a few weeks to live.  She was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was admitted to a hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, where she had moved to live with her sister.  Wilson knew he had to visit his mother, but couldn’t afford the flight to Kentucky, nor did he have a car.  Also, he couldn’t afford to leave the shop.  The next time Wilson saw Lovie, he told him about his predicament, “My mom is very sick, and I want to visit it her, but I don’t know if I will be able to because of my business, not to mention the cost to make the trip.”


When Lovie heard this he paused for a minute and just thought.  Eventually he responded, “I wish I had the money to pay for your flight, but I am pretty poor myself.  However, I will lend you my beat up old car if you would like to drive it to Kentucky to see your Mom.  Also, I would be happy to look after your coffee shop while you are away, for as long as you need me.  It is important that you see your mom, and I want to help you so that you can see her.”


“Well thank you, Lovie.  That is more than generous, and I don’t know how I’ll repay you, but I promise I will try.  Come on, I’ll show you everything you need to know about running the place,” said Wilson.


Wilson was able to spend some time his mother before she died while Lovie kept the shop going.  They were, possibly, the two best weeks Wilson had ever spent with his Mom because he was able to create the kind of relationship that he had not been able to do before, making sure she knew how important she was to him, and how influential she had been in his life.  When he returned home to Brooklyn, he was thrilled to see his new friends again, and although Wilson did not have enough money by the end of the month to pay his business loan because of the trip, Lovie’s friends donated the money he needed.  After a short time, Cartwright’s Coffee was thriving.  There was a constant stream of customers who stayed for long periods of time, because Wilson built relationships with his customers that he never had.  He always thanked Lovie for the difference that he made in his life, and the fact that he showed him what it was like to see life in full color.  




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