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School Custodian Charles F. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     The doctor prescribed crutches, a knee stabilizer, medicine, and two weeks in bed to heal. Yeah, right, I thought, angered by the idea of missing 10 days of school. Sounds crazy, I know, but I have not missed a day of school since kindergarten and I was not about to let a torn ACL ruin my record.

I used crutches to get to school, defeated and in the most pain I had encountered in my 17 years of living on the edge. Overwhelmed by the pain and difficulties of my limited mobility, I decided to spend my time in the nurse’s office. I could not open doors, walk up stairs, carry my books or even bring a lunch tray to my table. By the end of the first week, I was exhausted, but I managed to go every day.

Then I got the call. They had scheduled surgery and the news sparked more tears than the actual accident. To make matters worse, school had become even more difficult since the elevator was out of order. Just my luck. It was time to tackle the stairs, but I was ready to give up after four steps. My knee was throbbing, the crutches caused serious pain in my underarms, and I was alone.

To my surprise, a friendly hand motioned to help. “Take your time, I won’t let you fall.” I looked back to see the school’s custodian making sure I was safe. Within a minute, I conquered the stairs, though still in tears. Mr. F. had shown such kindness, my gratitude was indescribable. I felt at ease and comfortable for the first time since my injury.

For the rest of the week Mr. F. acted as my hands, tackling the tasks I could not. He took time out of his busy schedule to walk me to my classes, carry my books, and to make sure the lunch ladies took good care of me. Mr. F. carried my tray to my table and even bought me lunch. But more importantly, Mr. F. gave me cour-age. His positive attitude and gener-osity boosted my spirits and helped me forget the pain.

The day before my surgery, Mr. F. helped calm my nerves as he walked me to my first class. He convinced me the surgery would go well and described a similar one he’d had a few years before. He assured me I would be as good as new within a few days. I entered the operation confident, at ease, and with a positive attitude. I walked out of the hospital without crutches.

The next morning I began to write Mr. F. a thank-you note. Ten minutes later, the paper was still empty. I was unable to put into words how touched I was. After a few minutes I decided to simply write “Thank you, with all my heart,” and set off for school. Mr. F. had promised he would be waiting at the front door to walk me to my class, and, of course, he kept his promise. The surprise, however, was the bouquet of flowers Mr. F. held as he opened my car door. Once again, tears rolled down my face.

It amazes me how generous a person can be. Mr. F. showed immense kindness during one of my lowest times. He kept my spirits high and instilled a positive attitude during my recovery. His generosity healed the pain - Mr. F. gave me a brand-new perspective on life.

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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