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A Heaven-Sent Angel at the Mall

The mysterious words of wisdom seemed to follow him on his job search.

An illustration of a man in a library with a book in his hand; Illustration by Alex Green

Job Search Solution, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Getting to Yes. The more I flipped through the titles on the shelves at the mall bookstore, the more depressed I got.

Why had I migrated to the self-help section? I’d come to the mall for an escape, a few moments to not have to think about the job I desperately needed, my dwindling bank account, my wife’s medical expenses. But everywhere I looked I was reminded of my troubles.

I’d done everything I could. Tried every way I could think of to get my name out there, sent out dozens of resumes, made follow-up calls, haunted the job placement office. Nothing. There was no getting around it. I was in a bad way. The pressure weighed on me from the moment I woke in the morning until I went to bed at night. I was a loser, a failure. No book was going to change that.

How could this have happened? I thought, retreating to the history section. It was just one mistake. Well, two, actually.

Weeks earlier I was home with the flu when my boss called. For 18 years I’d written computer programs used to manufacture wind turbines. It was delicate work, every part produced to exact specifications.

That day I was needed to measure a 2,000-pound gear we were about to put into production. I had to be sure of the specs before I could do my programming. I had the part suspended on a hoist when I started feeling dizzy. Just need to sit down for a second, I thought. I went to the break room—without lowering the gear to the floor. That was a safety violation. And I’d made it just at the moment my boss walked in. “I’m writing you up,” she said.

“You’re being ridiculous,” I replied. My second mistake. Hours later I was fired.

“It will be okay,” my wife, Samantha, said when I told her. “We just have to put it in God’s hands.”

I shook my head and turned down the next aisle. I hated when she talked that way. I didn’t believe in all that mumbo jumbo. Answered prayers. Divine intervention. Angels flittering about. I put my trust in things that were real, that I could see with my own two eyes. And what I saw now wasn’t pretty.

How is she not panicking? I thought as I drifted past book after book, none grabbing my attention. Samantha was diabetic and couldn’t work because of neuropathy in her hands and feet. Without insurance, her insulin alone cost $1,000 a month. Because I’d been fired I couldn’t draw unemployment. Yet she continued to put her faith in God. It felt like it was all on me, the worry, the guilt, landing a new position, figuring out how to cut expenses.

I’d applied to multiple minimum wage jobs, hoping to take two or three at once. But my applications hadn’t sparked an ounce of interest. In between searching online, I’d pace the floor. Go for long walks in the neighborhood. I was losing all hope. I couldn’t see any way out. Who was going to take me on after what I had done?

One thing for sure, hanging out at the bookstore wasn’t doing anything for me. I turned toward the EXIT sign. You need to get home and back to the computer, I told myself. Loser. Failure. The words seemed to follow me right out of the store.

I stepped out the door and standing just feet away was a grizzled, older looking man in jeans and a faded flannel shirt. He looked at me as if he knew me, but I didn’t recognize him. Had he been in the bookstore? I tried to skirt past him when I heard a voice say, “Are you okay?”

I turned and our eyes met. Was it that obvious I was hurting, that a complete stranger would ask about my welfare? Maybe he’d noticed me in the self-help aisle. “Yeah,” I said. “I’m fine.”

The man pointed a finger at me. “Remember this. God loves you.”

With that, he turned and walked away. I didn’t know what to think.

“Something kind of odd happened,” I told Samantha when I got home. Of course she had an explanation. “It’s a sign,” she claimed. “Everything’s going to work out.”

I didn’t know about that, but I had to admit, there was something about those words, something about the way the stranger said them, the conviction in his voice. The whole experience. “Like I said, Samantha, it was odd.” I couldn’t get the incident out of my mind. There was something strangely comforting about it.

With Samantha’s encouragement and positive thinking, I continued my search. The stranger’s words played in the back of my mind. I had just been remembering the encounter when I got a call. A firm that made wind turbines, wanting to interview me. The day of my appointment, a Friday, I put on my best suit and kissed my wife. I was out the door when I stopped, and turned. “Say a prayer for me,” I said. Samatha beamed. I was leaving nothing to chance.

The interview was going great. Until the manager looked down at my resume. “Why did you leave your last job?” he asked.

My heart pounded. I reviewed the answers I’d rehearsed on the drive over. Looking for a change. Wanting more of a challenge. I opened my mouth. Then I thought of Samantha. Her trust in God. The faith she had in me. No, I couldn’t lie.

“Well, it’s like this,” I said. When I’d finished the manager stared down at my resume, the room deadly silent. Finally, he looked up.

“I know what you’re going through,” he said. “Almost the exact same thing happened to me.” He got up, shook my hand and showed me out. I guessed that was the last I’d hear from him. But I felt like a winner for telling the truth. Somebody, eventually, would find value in that.

First thing Monday morning the firm’s HR manager called. “When can you start?” she said. I almost threw the phone in the air! She went over the benefits, the company’s health insurance—way better than my old job. Samantha wandered in and I mouthed, “I got it!”

I hung up, literally jumping for joy. “Do you really think God cares what happens to me?” I asked my wife. “I mean, I searched for the job. I sent in my resume. It’s not as if God just sent an angel to…” Samantha widened her eyes.

To the mall? It really had seemed like that man had been there just for me, with the very words I’d needed to hear. An angel? I wasn’t sure about that. But one thing I was certain of, he’d been heaven sent.

For more angelic stories, subscribe to Angels on Earth magazine.

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