The Man on the Park Bench: A Short Story by James R. Coggins

The man on the park bench looked utterly forlorn. He was sitting with his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands.

“Good afternoon,” I said. “How are you doing?”

“It’s hopeless,” he said. “It’s hopeless.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” I said, sitting down beside him. “I’m an outreach worker with Downtown Mission. I’ve been able to help a lot of people. Maybe I can help you.”

“There’s nothing you can do. It’s hopeless,” he repeated.

“Why don’t you tell me what the problem is, and I’ll see if I can help. Do you have a job?”

“Yes. I just moved here a couple of months ago to accept a new job as sales rep for Nolix Corp.”

“Well, that sounds good. What is the problem?”

“I’ve got a long list of contacts I’m supposed to be meeting this afternoon and later this week.” The man caught his breath and continued. “But I lost my cell phone. It has all of my contacts’ information. Now I don’t know where I am supposed to go or who I am supposed to meet.”

“Why don’t you go back to your office at Nolix?” I suggested.

“I guess I could, but I don’t go there very often, and I would probably need my GPS to find it.”

“So, use your GPS.”

“It’s on my phone,” moaned the man. “And so is my pass code for the employee entrance.”

“So, use the public, customer entrance.”

“It wouldn’t do any good. I don’t have any back-up files in my office. All my client info and my presentation materials were in my cell phone. That’s why I don’t have to go in to the office very often.”

“Do you have any friends or family members you could call to help you?”

“I don’t have any family close by. I have friends, but I don’t know their last names or contact info. All of their phone numbers and addresses were in my cell phone. I didn’t memorize their phone numbers because I never had to dial them.”

“Do you have a car?” I asked.

“Yes, but how could I turn off the security lock and get into it without my cell phone?” the man complained.

“What about a home? Do you have a home?”

“Yes, I have a home in the suburbs, but I only moved in a couple of weeks ago. It’s in one of those neighborhoods where all the streets twist around and go off on angles. I don’t remember the address, and I need my GPS to find it.”

“That’s too bad,” I said.

“Besides, even if I got there, what good would it do?” he asked. “Without my cell phone, how would I turn off the security alarm or open the garage door or the house door? How would I turn up the heat or turn on the lights or start up my entertainment system or program the stove to cook dinner? How could I order groceries to be delivered or food from a restaurant?”

I sat there beside the man for a few moments deep in thought. The man was right. His case was hopeless.

I stood up, mumbled a half-hearted goodbye, and headed down toward the next park bench. There were a couple of homeless, long-term drug addicts there. Their situation was undoubtedly far more hopeful.

About jrcoggins

James R. Coggins is a professional writer and editor based in British Columbia, Canada. He wrote his first novel in high school, but, fortunately for his later reputation as a writer, it was never published. He briefly served as a Christian magazine editor (for just over 20 years). He has written everything from scholarly and encyclopedia articles to jokes in Reader’s Digest (the jokes paid better). His six and a half published books include four John Smyth murder mysteries and one other, stand-alone novel. In his spare time, he operates Mill Lake Books, a small publishing imprint. His website is
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2 Responses to The Man on the Park Bench: A Short Story by James R. Coggins

  1. Matthew Todd says:



  2. Pingback: Grateful for the Little Things by Bridget A. Thomas | Christians Read

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