The Last Straw tried to be nice to everyone, but it never seemed to make a difference.
He let people in front of him all the time. That’s a nice thing to do, right? He was always last in everything, and he figured that he was doing everyone a favor.
But everywhere he went, chaos ensued. People got into fights; waitresses, baristas, cashiers would break down in tears. A few people have even quit their jobs. One time, he even broke the back of a camel. Apparently, that incident was a bit of a legend.
He tried not to be this way, honestly. It’s hard to make friends when you ruin everything you touch.
Lately, he had been feeling down about everything, his whole existence, really. He was in a coffee shop one morning (the barista had burst into tears when he ordered, giving him his beverage and then immediately handing her apron to her manager and walking out. He assumed she quit on the spot, and that was only the second one this week.) when a ragged old man approached him, sitting down across the table. The situation was unprecedented—the Last Straw didn’t get approached by people, ever. Needless to say, he was confused. Then the man began to explain.
“I doubt you remember me, since this was many years ago that our paths first crossed. You came to file your taxes with a firm I worked with, and my life has never been the same since. You see, as soon as you left, I realized I had suffered through that desk job long enough, and I resigned less than an hour after you left my office.”
This—this was not new territory. He had just caused a barista to quit not five minutes ago, so it was a common problem when he was around. He frowned, looking regretful, and opened his mouth to apologize when the old man held his hand up to stop him.
“No need to apologize kid, that’s not why I’m here. I promised myself that if I ever saw you again, I would thank you. Somehow, you were the last straw—”, at that, the Last Straw couldn’t hold back a small smile, “—that made me realize that I wanted more outta my life than just helping people figure out how to file their taxes. Thanks to you, I finally followed my dream of being an artist, and I’ve done pretty good for myself. I can never repay you for the kindness you showed me. Thank you.”
With that, the old man stood up and left the shop, not looking back and leaving a floored Last Straw in his wake. He had never considered that being people’s breaking point might ever cause someone to change their life for good. He had only ever seen the negative outcomes—the pain, tears, regret. He was in no way prepared to handle someone’s gratitude. He takes a sip of his beverage, and a full smile finds its way to his face for the first time in a long time.