The Old Lady in the Worn Brown Coat NULL

One cold January evening in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I went with my father on an oil burner service call. I guess my father was in his forties at the time. I was about twelve or thirteen years of age and I enjoyed hanging out with him whenever I could, he taught me so much. He was always working hard trying to support us seven kids. We were very poor.

We arrived at the call and after walking over snow and ice, we knocked on the customer's door. A senior citizen opened the door and let us into her very cold home. She was wearing an old, worn out brown coat that went down to her knees. On her head, covering her gray hair, was an old and ragged looking hat. The home wasn't furnished very well and was quite dark, except for a single light bulb over the dining room table. Below the light was an older man counting change from several old coffee cans. He had a separate pile of change in front of each can. There were pennies, dimes and quarters, all in neat stacks. He looked up at us as we passed by to get to the cellar where my dad would fix the oil burner. He didn't say anything, just looked up at us. He didn't speak English, nor did his wife. She only pointed to the cellar and smiled a toothless grin.

After a short while, my father had the heater up and running, making great heat for their cold home. I followed my dad upstairs where the lady asked my dad in poorly spoken English how much she owed him for fixing the heater. My dad looked around the house and said that he had to go out to the truck and write the bill.

Once in the truck he marked the bill 'no answer at door, no one home,' so they wouldn't be charged for his work. He looked over at me and said, 'He was counting his change to pay me. They need their money more than I do.'

Submitted by Anonymous


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