I loved this JW story. Real life is not always what we first imagine it to be.

– Volunteer Mike Cooke


The little furniture store sat on the far corner of a run-down strip mall. The other tenants consisted of a tattoo parlor, adult novelty shop (‘for the adult in all of us’), and a hardcore bodybuilding gym, (EyeRon Bodies). Harmon greeted us as we walked in. Slender, blue eyes, wire-rimmed glasses, early thirties. But it was his mustache that captivated me. Or, to be more specific, the mustache on the right side of his face. That, and the fact that the left side of his head and jaw were trimmed very, very short. The dichotomy was completely unexpected, especially for a salesman. Harmon’s handshake was soft and his voice soothing as he welcomed us.

“First time in the store? Please feel free to look around and let me know if you have any questions.”

As we perused through the tables and couches, my imagination placed Harmon in an exotic cabaret downtown performing a split personality stand up routine. Why else would someone shave half their mustache off? The furniture store must be his day gig, I concluded.

A few weeks later we came back to the store with a sample of our flooring to match against a dark horse candidate dining room table. Harmon greeted us again in the same cheerful manner. But this time his entire mustache was shaved clean. I could tell from the way his hair was growing in patches that I had been completely wrong. My heart went out to him because I recognized that Harmon was suffering from the side effects of chemo.  I felt like a character in a Poe story who had encountered a modern day ‘Bartleby.’ All I wanted to do was help him, to let him know I understood, and to apologize for having gotten it wrong the first time.

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