Fortune Cookies

Glenn Stoddard had his suicide narrowed down to two options.  He was either going to overdose or step in front of a moving subway train.  The former would be less painful, but the latter would take him out more quickly.  There was also the survivability factor to consider.  What if the overdose didn’t kill him, but instead left him as a drooling dependent?  He’d be more depressed than ever.  ‘Death by Subway’ was likely the way to go.

Was leaving a note the way to go as well?  On one hand, it would explain his reasons for killing himself: never felt as though he fit in, had never known love, didn’t see how any of those things could ever happen.  On the other hand, what difference would it really make?  He’d still be dead and the people who had never given him the time of day while he was alive likely wouldn’t give much thought to his death either.

“Fuck ’em,” he said to himself.  “I’ll just have a piece of i.d. on me, so they’ll know who the crazy was that got himself killed by the Number Four train.”

When the predetermined day came (it was a Monday…the most depressing day of the week), Glenn made his way to the subway station three blocks from his apartment.  He was dressed rather smartly for the occasion (something else to give people to think about, he reasoned) and found himself whistling as he made his way down the steps towards the tunnel.  He then said a cheery “Have a good day!” to the transit worker from whom he bought his token and went through the turnstile.  It was just another thirty-two steps down to the platform from there.

“Should I jump onto the northbound or southbound track?” he asked himself.  “South.  My life went south years ago, plus that’s probably the direction God will send me once I do the dirty deed.”

It was settled then.  He just had to cross the yellow line he had been careful to stand behind ever since he had moved to the big city and then jump as the train pulled into the station.  That would be in another five minutes.  To pass the time, Glenn glanced at the advertising billboards that hung from the tunnel walls.  Buy this!  Buy that!  Consume, consume, consume!  That was the meaning behind pretty much all of them…except for one.

The billboard that caught his attention, of course, was for suicide prevention.  According to it, every day about one hundred and five people in the U.S.  commit suicide; approximately one every twelve minutes.  It then begged him not to be victim number one hundred and six, and to call the suicide hotline instead because he wasn’t as alone in the world as he thought.  There were people who cared.

He didn’t call.

Not because he followed through on his wish to die, but because he couldn’t get past the fact that there were one hundred and five people who killed themselves on a daily basis.  One hundred and five times three hundred and sixty-five days – that was more than thirty-nine thousand people every year, just in the United States alone.

“That’s a lot of depressed people,” Glenn couldn’t help but to think.  “How sad that so many were reduced to committing suicide. If only something, or someone, could have given them hope.”

And that’s when Glenn Stoddard chose to live.  He now had a purpose: to do something that would give people a reason to go on living.  Did he become a therapist or hotline crisis counselor?   Good heavens, no.  That would have just reminded him of how depressing life can be.  For his own sanity, he needed to keep it positive.

So he got a job writing upbeat messages for a Chinese fortune cookie company.  One small loving action today can make a big difference in someone’s tomorrow!  The sun will continue to shine on you long after it has set!  Someone’s dream has to come true…why shouldn’t it be yours?  Those are just a few examples of the happy thoughts he made sure people saw after they had finished their last bite of Moo Moo Gai Pan.   Glenn is unsure of how many lives his fortune cookie messages have saved, but he knows of at least one that was spared: his own.

Keep that in mind the next time you’re going through a rough patch and think about ending it all.  There was once a sad man who felt the same way, but found a reason to keep going.  Look for your reason because, like Glenn, you are not alone.  Someone out there cares.

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