He crept up to the curb in his maroon Oldsmobile – an angel with wheels instead of wings.
The slight 90-year-old parked and shuffled over to me. Up close, I could see the tufts of white, wiry hair on his head and the big grin on his face.
“Did they tell you who I am?” he asked. “I’m Merlyn Raikes who makes no mistakes.”
He immediately started laughing, tickled by his own tagline.
Of course, I knew who he was. He was my boyfriend’s grandfather, and he happened to live near the newspaper I had just interviewed with.
He declared that I couldn’t leave town until I had dined at Happy Burger, one of his favorite spots. So he took me there.
We ate, and he talked. He alternated between telling stories and telling jokes.
“What’s the difference between unlawful and illegal?” he asked.
One’s something you do wrong. The other is a sick bird.
Again, he laughed at his own joke. It was a hearty guffaw, a sweet melody.
We parted ways after dinner, and the following day I made the four-hour trek back to Southern Indiana where I lived. Before I got home, though, I got a call from the bosses at the Pharos Tribune. The job was mine if I wanted it.
I was suddenly torn. I needed a job, but I was a broke college grad then, and I didn’t know if I even had enough money to move out on my own.
While I worried and fretted, the angel in the Oldsmobile showed up again. Merlyn opened up his home for me – a gesture I’ll never feel I deserved.
He cleared out a bedroom and told me I could stay, rent free, as long as I needed.