This is a story of two men, John Sparkles and Andy Moody. As their last names reveal, John and Andy each have a disability. John is negativity-handicap. He can’t see the bad side of things. He is ceaselessly hopeful and positive. Andy is just the opposite. He sees only the bad side of everything. There is no silver lining with him.
Their story starts with a routine day in their life and ends where they should end. Both John and Andy are lawyers specializing in divorces. They run a small firm with no more than 5 staffs. Both are of the same age, 45, and are married with children. The parallel doesn't end there. Let's go close-up.
Here are the two of them driving to work in the morning. There was a traffic jam. Both were running late with a difficult client waiting at 9 am. At this time, of all time, a car unapologetically cut into John's and Andy's lane. John refused to horn. He was slightly annoyed no doubt but he dismissed it. He thought, "Mm...he may be late too. Maybe he has his own reason. Anyway, live and let live I say."
However, Andy didn't take it lying down. He horned with rage and was fuming. "Nutcase," he thought to himself. "This inconsiderate pig. What is his problem? Maybe a woman driver. Must be a woman driver. How the hell did she get her license?" While Andy simmered, and was even boiling inside, John was cool. He let it slide. He refused to focus on how the driver's conduct entitled him to be pissed off. He distanced himself from the epic center, the boiling point.
Then, not surprisingly, both of them were late for the appointment. This enraged “Mrs. Loudfire" as their client was coincidentally called. John and Andy responded with professionalism. They both apologized with sincerity; although Andy Moody was less enthusiastic about it. "How come so late?!" their client yelled. They glanced at their watches and it reads: 9:08 am. "Sorry, I was caught in a horrible jam. Please accept my apology,” they replied along similar lines. Their client seemed unpersuaded and demanded some refund for their tardiness.
They tried again and this time, they were smiling from ear to ear, hoping that their client would drop the dead donkey. But when the shit hits the fan, it blows in all direction. "No, you are not professional," their client reacted, struggling to hold back her tears. "I am minded to switch representation. I am going through a divorce here, broken and depressed even, and you are not helping with this lateness and hypocritical apology."
Andy was shocked. He felt a swell in the nape of his neck. It was warm in fact. Hot. His heart drummed up the heat. His mind went on a blood hunt. "Look here, I did not plan this. I have already apologized. Can we move on with the meeting please?"
John Sparkles on the other hand replied, "Oh, I am sorry to hear that. Forgive me for being insensitive. Tell me more. Please sit down. I want to hear your story." While John's client sat down and shared her pain, Andy's client was less settled. She was still fuming. Andy then turned mechanical and kept apologizing with each apology becoming less sincere than the one that came before. Worse still, each apology wedged deeper his anger.
After a while, both John and Andy managed to calm their clients down. The difference was in the emotional nuances between them. John and his client, however impatient she was at first, both felt a connection and the relationship rose to a new level. On the other hand, Andy and his client kept it together by tolerating each other. It was merely business as usual.
The day then proceeded quite procedurally with the usual papers signed, filed and posted out. Just when it is about time to clock out and go home, both their secretaries did something uncharacteristic. They forgot to file an important appeal by the prescribed deadline. Talk about uncanny coincidences. It was not a fatal flaw but it had its repercussions. Andy received the news with an expression of shock and John took it with a pinch of salt. "What? How come? How can you forget? Client is going to have my head for this! You had better solve it right now. You are supposed to be my eyes and ears not my banana skin! OMG," Andy shouted.
John was quiet for a while and said, "You really have to be more careful. These are real people behind those papers. Mm...it's going to be tough from here. How late was it? Let's damage control. Make the application to court to file out of time and let's hope we get an understanding judge (sigh)...anyway, it's not life and death. Go home after you're done." John smiled and left, heavy in thoughts.
Andy drove home that day with crippling dread sloshing in his mind. He was fuming and worrying. He could not believe his luck, a really bad one. First it was a pig of a driver, then a swine of a client, and it ended with a pain in the rear-end with his secretary. Andy Moody was indeed moody. He returned home ignoring his wife and children. He tried his best to utter one word or two to them and then went to sleep early. His sleep was no doubt disrupted but he forced himself to sleep, battling the slumber.
John Sparkles sorted out his thoughts on his way home. He went home a little under the weather but he still greeted his children. After dinner, he shared with his wife about the whole fiasco and they prayed together. John like Andy did not have a sound sleep that night but the difference was again subtle. John saw a spark, a ray of hope, in the whole episode. He refused to dwell on the negative. It however did intrude - the worries that is - but John consciously diverted its dimming effects. He reclaimed the power to feel hopeful and grateful.
On the other side of the fence, Andy could not forget that day. It was horrible for him and it stayed that way. Everything thereafter reminded him of that day. Although his client's divorce was closed and his secretary had made the successful application to remedy the late appeal, Andy was bitter about it and was less trusting of his secretary. All in all, Andy was always negative while John remained ever hopeful.
Herein ends the story of two lives, that is, a typical day in the life of John Sparkles and Andy Moody. Not surprisingly, the many days after that day were no different from that day as portrayed. John and Andy in fact went to their grave with their handicap intact. One was negativity handicap and the other was positivity handicap. One just saw the good side of everything and the other the bad.
And in their tombstone, if you bother to linger on a little longer, there is again this nuanced difference. No, it is not in the number of years they had lived. John lived to 82 and Andy lived to 85. No, it is not in the number of people who attended the burial ceremony. They both had the same numbers of attendees (maybe John had a little more). And no, their tombstones were both marbled and about the same size. The difference is in the aftermath.
John had regular visitors unlike Andy. Over the years, Andy's visitors thinned out. Even his family reduced their visits to once every five years or six. But John's visitors came regularly and quite unexpectedly. They came at different times of the year and many years thereafter. Some of the regular visitors were his loved ones and close friends. Others were less familiar to those who knew John and most came under the covers of anonymity.
They all came to pass a message. They left brief notes by the side with their handmade token of appreciation. They just felt that they had to do it. They felt that it was the least they could do. And if one takes the time to read the notes and sum it up, the common sentiment that runs through them is this: "You've made a difference in our life, John. We miss you." Cheerz.