Last Thursday afternoon I made my usual stop at Starbucks around 4:00 and the place was packed although none of my cronies were around. I ordered my usual three shot Americano and looked for a place to sit when a regular who I really didn’t know motioned to me that there was another chair at his table. Over the years we had said hello many times but had never spoken at any length. He was alone so I joined him and the usual startup conversation began: How about this weather? Ever see this place so crowded? Do you work around here? He told me that he was a warehouseman for an electronics distribution company. He mentioned that the company had just brought him inside after he had driven a truck for them for the previous three or so years. I told him a bit about my career.

The conversation moved around from sports to politics to books we had read. We were becoming comfortable with each other when about a half hour into the conversation he told me that prior to driving the truck he was an Emergency Room Doctor. I’m thinking here’s another nut who’s going to tell me a story. I had some time so I figured I’d listen and maybe wind up with some pretty good material. He said he had been wrongly accused of stealing and distributing narcotics and, upon being indicted, was relieved of his medical license. He hired attorneys and investigators and was now confident that he would be exonerated some time in the next year. He showed me a big newspaper article complete with pictures from about four years ago when he was arrested. He said that he would probably have been cleared a year ago or more except that the prosecutor, who had partially built his reputation on this arrest, was embarrassed and just wouldn’t let it go.

I was amazed and asked if he was looking forward to getting back to his career. He said he wasn’t sure, that when he was a high flying, wealthy doctor the only thing that mattered to him was more, more of everything. He had not been present for his wife or children. He said he really wasn’t a very nice guy and that these four years had helped him to understand the important things in life. He said he had been refocused and now cared only about caring for his family. He really was not looking forward to going back to his medical career. He said his goals and philosophy of life had been altered beyond recognition. He said that these four years had allowed him some time to consider his spiritual beliefs and that he was peaceful and genuinely happy for the first time in his life. His family and his relationships with them were all that mattered to him now.

I was dumbfounded. Here was a man who had been chastened by being wrongly accused. He was not seeking revenge. He was actually grateful for the experience.

I hope I never forget this chance meeting and that I continue to learn from it.

Posted January 18, 2009


Beautiful story. I love stories of redemption, which this is.
Thanks for the telling.

Thanks for recording this marker of truth. A great story. mgt

Phil, what a wonderful story. Thank you.

I needed this one today.

Love you,


I too enjoyed this story Phil. Thanks!

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