At the beginning of my career as a stockbroker I was assigned to an office known for its considerable walk-in business. It was located on the ground floor with a large electronic ticker tape stretching the length of the lobby. The screen, with its ever changing prices, was visible not only to us on the inside but also to the sidewalk traffic passing by. We had cushioned theatre seating for our clients to sit and watch the market and on occasion we even had a few drifters come in depending on the weather.
One afternoon I noticed a man, slight in stature, wearing a tattered and dirty brown suit enter the front door carrying a folded brown paper bag. He stood for awhile, his unshaven face intently studying our workplace. Finally he approached a seasoned broker and sat down in the customer chair. Without a moments hesitation the broker told the man to leave. The same thing happened the next day and again the next. Finally on the fourth day he approached me. As I have always believed we should treat others with dignity and respect I could at least ask him to go on his way but in a more pleasant and polite manner.
He began to talk and I could immediately sense his deep understanding and passionate interest in the stock market. After asking a few probing questions he got up to leave and thanked me for my time and advice. The next morning he walked in as the market was about to open and stood over my desk emptying the contents of two grocery bags. Stock certificates went cascading everywhere and I heard him say, “Sell.” That day I sold over two hundred thousand dollars worth of stock and forwarded the proceeds to his trust account at a local bank. I watched as the first broker became physically ill.
Not long afterwards my new client was found dead on a remote railroad siding, inside an unused boxcar, living as a vagrant and
recluse. The trust officer from the bank and I were the only two at his funeral.
“It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of everyone;
the living should take this to heart.”
Few life experiences have produced such lasting and painful memories for this writer. To reach the end without benefit of family or friends is a tragic definition of alone. I have often prayed he found peace and comfort in the arms of the Investor of Souls.
I also pray there was a Third present at his service.