The school year had just ended. Rick and Tess reached the home of their friends, Brian and Alice Gladstone, early that sad Saturday morning, at 7a.m. Their mother, Mrs. Gladstone, had gotten a better job in a city a thousand miles away, and the three of them were moving, with the help of friends. Using a moving company was too expensive for them. Mr. Gladstone had died earlier that year.
There were several heavy items; Rick and Brian moved them out of the apartment and onto the rented van. Mostly, though, boxes and boxes of “stuff” needed to be lugged out and put onto the van. Moving ended up taking much longer than expected because a couple of people who had said they would come to help did not show up. The Gladstones thanked Rick and Tess warmly and finally drove away. Although each of them hoped to keep in touch, by email, telephone, letters, each knew that distant friendships are hard to maintain.
On their way home, Rick and Tess talked about Brian and Alice and how sorry they were to see them go. Something else troubled them.
“Rick, why didn’t the other people who said they’d help come?”
“People often offer what they fail to deliver. Sometimes they really do intend to do it, but something comes up and they can’t. Other times they are just saying it to make themselves look good or make you feel good, but really they do not plan to live up to their promises.”
Tess commented, “Maybe they find it too sad to come when someone is leaving.”
“That could be. Also, they would be doing a favor for people who were unlikely to be able to return it.”
“How about ‘pay it forward,’ Rick?”
“Nice idea…doing onto others as you would have them do unto you, the scriptural Golden Rule. You can think doing good deeds is a good idea but not want to make the effort when the time comes and the deeds are needed.”
“If we moved, do you think we would get help?”
“Probably, although Mom and Dad would likely just hire a moving company. The people Mom and Dad have helped in the past might well show up or help in other ways. The Gladstones were fairly new here and had not made that many friends yet.”
“I hope their mom’s new job works out.”
“Right. If it doesn’t, they will be in a new place, without friends and without a job. They will have ‘jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.’ I hope that doesn’t happen.”
The Williams pair made it home for a late lunch. Their mother asked how it went.
“Fine, Mom, but some people who said they’d help didn’t,” Tess replied.
“That’s too bad. You learn who your true friends are when you ask for something. Some people will promise you the world, but not deliver. An old saying is, ‘Actions speak louder than words.’”
That Saturday, “Moving Day,” left Rick and Tess a little sadder and a lot wiser.
One of a series of fifty instructive short stories for young readers.