Pacific Magazine - Volume 19, Number 2
Pieces of the whole
What the pieces tell
Paul ran the automotive department at a chain discount store long since swallowed by a larger fish in the retail sea. Older, around for years and out of favor with the current leadership, he was admired by employees who respected his experience and saw quiet nobility in the way he weathered marginalization by lesser managers.
Paul recruited one young man from neighboring paint and hardware, encouraging him with fatherly conversation and a small commission on each tire he sold.
Now, this young man was no hero. Concealing his ineptitude under a bubble of arrogance, he was woefully over his head in his job and his life. He was kind of a jerk. Paul saw the struggle and reached out, offering a compassionate face and an encouraging ear.
Months went by and the young man got what he deserved: forced unemployment. All that pierced his shock at the news was how the store manager explained the termination. The words came verbatim from confidences the young man had shared with Paul. The young man never got a chance to ask Paul why he had betrayed him. But he remembers Paul. The way Paul was in the hidden pieces of his life.
The young man ended up where he belonged, back in college, and lives to advise his sons, already smarter than he, to avoid his mistakes.
No longer so young, that man is now at Fresno Pacific University, and he finds the pieces comprise a healthier whole. Lesser-known programs mirror marquee majors in their academic quality and faculty live their ethical focus as well as their professional expertise. All are lit by the same light and do more than stand scrutiny—they glorify.
The pieces of our lives tell who we really are, as individuals and institutions.