Meeting Superman This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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I will call him Clark Kent. He was built just like him, tall and muscular with dark eyes and hair. Unshaven and obviously exhausted from a long day’s work, Clark Kent entered Stewart’s Root Beer, where I worked as the almighty take-out cashier. His clothes were dirty and his hands weathered from years of hard labor. I hardly noticed as he shuffled through the fingerprint-smeared door.

It was August, the time of year in Jersey when anyone would die for a cool drink and a fan blowing in her face. It was definitely not a day for hard labor, and the man’s sad, weary expression showed his day had not been wonderful. I had instant empathy for Clark Kent.

I had already been working for three hours that humid Saturday afternoon. I was dying to jog the two blocks to the beach and cool off in the greenish-blue waters of Long Beach Island. The air conditioning had broken the night before and, adding to the heat, the tiny restaurant was packed. Everyone was edgy; everyone wanted what they wanted and there was no stopping them. My co-workers were about to wring each others’ necks and the customers were rude, impatient and unsatisfied. I was going insane.

Clark Kent waited silently at the end of the take-out line while people in front of him whined, moaned, pouted and yelled. Not once did he say a word about all the time that had passed. After 20 minutes of me pushing buttons, taking money and getting sodas, it was his turn to order.

“Welcome to Stewart’s. How may I help you?” I asked mechanically, without lifting my eyes from the computer keys. Silence. I looked up and there stood Clark Kent. Despite his dingy appearance, he had the most beautiful green eyes and a childish smile.

“What can I get you, sir?” I was getting impatient. Someone behind him was already making a wisecrack. One more second of this nonsense and I was going to burst.

“Sir?” I asked again, more impatiently.

“Good morning. What’s your name, dear?” he asked in a gentle voice.

“Meredith,” I stuttered, dumbfounded.

“Good morning, Meredith. I’m not too hungry and I don’t really like root beer.” He paused. “But as I was walking by, I saw you working your tail off to please these people, and not one making an effort to please you. I thought you might need a pinch of sun to brighten your day.”

I looked at him and a single tear ran down my face. He was dirty, exhausted, worn, weathered and my hero. For someone who seemed to have lost so much, there was still so much for him to give away. Without a thought of himself, he went out of his way to show me he cared. It is not every day that one meets somebody like Clark Kent. The love he showed me in that one smile and those few words kept me on a natural high for the rest of the summer.

From the bottom of my soul, I thank you, Clark Kent. You are not Superman, but you very well could have been. You do not move mountains, catch evil villains or fly through the sky, but you are a hero just the same. Wherever you are, you moved mountains in my life, you caught the evil villain in my soul and you fly through my dreams from time to time.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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