A car washer’s life turns around when he unexpectedly lands a janitor’s job at a cleaning company. Little does he know he would be forced to quit and disappear one day due to the secret his boss has kept from him.
Robert was trying to earn enough money to get by. He was sick of surviving on the few dollars he made by washing cars and wiping their windshields when they slowed at the traffic signal.
That day, though, his luck must’ve had something unexpected and special in store for him, he reasoned as he checked the fanny pack around his waist. He counted the money he had made by washing cars and was surprised when it totaled $34!
Robert’s eyes glistened at the money. He couldn’t remember the last time he had a good dinner, so after work, he stopped by the old cafe down the street that sold the best lobster rolls.
As the waitress served his order and disappeared, Robert pounced on the food. “This is heaven!” he exclaimed, his mouth full of the scrumptious roll. Suddenly, a man’s voice from behind distracted him.
“Robert?” he asked as he approached him.
Robert placed the lobster roll on his plate and raised his gaze to the man in the suit. “Yes?” he asked, confused. “What do you want?”
The man grinned as he placed his business card on the table. “I own a company that’s currently hiring cleaners. Would you be interested? I, er, see you by the traffic light every day, cleaning people’s cars.”
Robert quickly wiped his hands on his thick shirt and swallowed the food. “Oh, certainly,” he said as he picked up the card and read it. “Please. Have a seat.”
The man sat across from Robert and introduced himself as Arthur. “So, like, do I have to fill out a form or something for this?” Robert asked him.
“No, um, not needed,” Arthur said, waving his hand. “You could just tell me about yourself…I mean, about your previous job, life experiences, pretty much anything you’d want, and I believe that’s it. We’re not one of those tedious firms that spend days reviewing applicants. So, yeah, keep going.”
“Wokay!” Robert said, impressed. “You’d like to get something? Some coffee or somethin’?”
“No, I’m good,” the man said, and Robert began telling him about himself, about how he had lived in foster homes since he was a child, and how even after being adopted by a family, he never had the life he had hoped for.
Robert said his adoptive parents were ordinary people and didn’t love him enough. So he left home when he turned 18 to make a life for himself. However, things didn’t go as planned, and he ended up on the streets.
“Now I wash cars for a living and eat lobster rolls on days I make good money,” he sighed, a tight smile on his face.
Arthur returned his smile. “Very interesting,” he commented. “I guess I’d be pleased to help you then. So…are you OK with starting tomorrow?”
Lies and secrets have a way of leaking out.
“Really?” Robert scoffed. “Yeah, that would be great. I mean, awesome, awesome thing. So… I should call you…” He looked at the card. “Mr. Gray. Yes?”
Arthur got up and offered his hand for a handshake. “Arthur, please,” he said. “Please address me as Arthur. And I’m looking forward to working with you.”
Robert sank back in his chair and smiled as Arthur walked away. “My luck has been really good today,” he told himself. “Wow, this was a knockout! Unbelievable! Really!”
Robert tucked Arthur’s business card into his pocket and resumed eating his lobster roll, then he decided he deserved a treat for getting the job, so he stopped by a convenience store on his way home and bought himself a cheap cookie.
The job at the cleaning company did turn Robert’s life around. The workload was minimal, and he was never chastised for his errors, no matter how big they were.
The other employees marveled at Arthur’s forbearance in dealing with Robert and wondered why he hadn’t been fired. Robert had ruined a client’s expensive sofa while cleaning it within a week of starting the job, and the woman was so enraged that she’d given the company terrible reviews.
Later, it turned out Robert was inebriated during his work shift and had mixed up cleaning products, which is how the mishap happened. When the news reached Arthur’s ears, he confronted Robert in front of the employees, declaring he would have to make up for the losses and pay the penalty out of his pocket.
“I believe that concludes the lesson for the time being. But I’m wondering if you’ll be able to go to the parties if you keep working like this, Robert,” Arthur said sternly, looking at him.
“I—I have a second job, sir… I mean, Arthur,” Robert lied, clasping his hands behind his back and lowering his voice.
“And you’re proud of that?” Arthur asked. “That you’re not tarnishing the company’s reputation by using the money you make here!?”
“No, no,” Robert said emphatically. “I just…” Then he understood he’d be in trouble if he didn’t control his tongue. “I apologize. This will never happen again.”
“I hope so, Robert,” Arthur replied bluntly. “Otherwise, it would be difficult for me to keep you here. You get what I mean, right? Now, back to work.”
Arthur was furious, yet he let Robert off with just a small fine.
But Robert was enraged. The frivolous 30-year-old man was furious his boss was ordering him around.
“Why are you still standing here?” Arthur asked furiously.
Robert did not respond.
“For God’s sake, I’m not talking to the walls! Get back to work, Robert!”
“I won’t…” he whispered, then raised his voice. “I WON’T! AND YOU DON’T GET TO TELL ME WHAT TO DO! YOU CAME TO ME BECAUSE YOU NEEDED ME. I DIDN’T NEED YOU.”
“Excuse me?!” Arthur slammed the file he was reading. “What the hell did you just say?”
“I QUIT,” Robert said, looking Arthur in the eyes. “I no longer want to work here. I’m not taking orders, and I’ll see you tomorrow when I come to collect my severance pay!”
Robert walked out of Arthur’s office before giving the man a chance to say something, anything. And he wasn’t embarrassed about what he’d done.
He wasn’t even ashamed that he’d lied to his boss about going out to party with the money he’d earned from working a second job.
Robert had not only cheated on his work, but he had also spent a stranger’s money on himself without returning it. He had used the $7000 he’d found in a woman’s purse outside his house a few days before to go to that party.
The next day, Robert stood outside Arthur’s office brazenly to collect the severance pay. “He’s on a call; please wait. He’ll call you in a moment,” the receptionist told him.
Robert sat on one of the waiting chairs in the corridor and could hear Arthur talking inside. “What an idiot!” he muttered to himself. “He’s talking so loudly that the entire office can hear him!”
Robert took a magazine off the table and began flipping its pages, appearing to be distracted while eavesdropping on his boss’s conversation. Suddenly, he overheard Arthur mentioning him.
“I don’t want to fire Robert!” cried Arthur.
Robert rose to his feet and shifted closer to the door, no longer flipping through the magazine in his hands. “I know I have to! But…as the company’s CEO, I have the authority to terminate him,” he overheard Arthur saying. “I CAN’T DO THAT AS A BROTHER! What will I tell him? How will I explain why I’ve hidden the truth from him all this while? And what will I tell the other employees?”
Robert’s grip on the magazine gave way, and tears rose in his eyes. “Brother?” he whispered. “Arthur…He’s my brother?”
Robert gulped, his hand held to his mouth now. “I want to talk to him right now,” he yelled at the receptionist. “Tell him I’d like to talk to him!”
“Sorry, sir,” she said calmly. “He’s still busy. You can’t—”
“Christ! Do hell with your rules!” he screamed, bursting into Arthur’s office.
The boss froze in place. “Robert?”
“I’m your brother?” he blurted out. “What’s going on? I overheard everything. How can you be my brother?”
Arthur sighed. “I’ll call you later. I’ll sort the mess out,” he said as he hung up his phone and returned to his chair.
“How—How did you know we were brothers? I never told you!”
“Yes, you are my brother, Robert,” he admitted, looking Robert in the eyes. “And there’s a lot you need to know if you have the patience to hear it.”
“Why didn’t you tell me earlier?” he asked impatiently, sitting across from Arthur. “Was approaching me in the cafe that day part of your plan? Arthur, what were you thinking? What the bloody hell is all of this?”
“Sir! Sir! Could you please have a seat?” The receptionist distracted Robert’s thoughts, and he realized he was merely picturing himself confronting Arthur. He was still standing outside Arthur’s door and could hear his voice. “I’m sorry,” he apologized to the receptionist. “I’m sorry, but I have to leave.”
Robert walked away silently, and it would be days before Arthur would receive his letter.
“We’ve got scores to settle, Arthur. Don’t you dare think I won’t come back, OK? Yes, I’m going away, but I’ll return someday. I’m not a loser who would give up on his life. Don’t try to look for me. Just wait.
Arthur didn’t understand what the letter meant until three years later. He was in his office when his secretary brought him a letter from the representative of a small motel on the city’s outskirts. “He’s been keen on cooperating with us,” she said. “And he has requested a meeting with you later today.”
Arthur was skeptical of the proposal but decided to attend the meeting.
When Robert entered his office later that day and introduced himself as the representative, Arthur was shocked. “How are you doing, brother?” Robert asked, hugging Arthur. “I’ve been looking forward to seeing you for a long time… I hope I didn’t let you down.”
Arthur was shocked. He had never told Robert that they were brothers. He had kept the truth buried for three years.
Robert revealed that two years ago, he had fallen into depression and didn’t know if he’d make it in life until he met a woman at a bus stop. Kathy helped him in escaping his misery, and they fell in love.
She was also the one who encouraged him to keep going, and with her help, Robert was able to give shape to his life. He began working odd jobs to make money, then went to community college and got a job at the company where she worked.
“Three years after working together, we earned enough money to open a modest motel on the outskirts of town, and that’s why I’m here,” he finished.
Arthur couldn’t believe his brother, who had been a brash young man until three years ago, was now a motel owner. “How—How did you know we were brothers? I never told you!” he cried.
“I overheard you,” Robert replied. “I know what I did was wrong, but Arthur, what happened? How come you never told me we were brothers?”
“We were separated at birth,” Arthur began. “I only found out about you a year before I met you. I learned you were homeless and cleaning cars to get by.”
“So you pitied me and hired me as a cleaner?”
“No,” he said. “No. I wanted to help…”
“Help?” scoffed Robert through tears. “By hiring me to work as a cleaner, you were helping me? Look at yourself, Arthur. You had this good life…you drove an expensive car, lived a rich life, owned this whole goddamn company, and you didn’t think about sharing all this with me to help me? You instead hired me as a cleaner to help me? You sound ridiculous, brother!”
It was then Arthur revealed something that blew Robert’s mind. “I was aware of your lies. I knew about your childhood and adulthood and how you didn’t go to the party with money you made from your so-called second job.”
Robert was shocked. “You…” he stuttered. “How? What I mean is, how did you—”
“I spent a whole year looking for you, Robert. When I found out about your adoptive parents, I went to your house, and it was then they told me how they were compelled to kick you out because you stole their savings. You never appreciated what they did for you, and you didn’t appreciate the job I gave you. The money you found in the woman’s purse was all my doing.”
“I thought you’d go to the cops, Robert. I didn’t believe your adoptive parents, and I thought you’d never steal, but you let me down. You not only wasted that money on a party, but you also made a mess and harmed the company’s image.”
“You had destroyed all life had given you, Robert. I wanted to help you become a responsible man, and you’d ruined even that. All you ever did was point fingers and blame others. It was time for you to reflect on yourself and correct your wrongs.”
“I couldn’t tell you before I was your brother because I knew you’d try to manipulate me, as you did when we first met at the cafe. You sold me your sob story and told me your parents never appreciated you!”
For the first ever in his life, Robert felt embarrassed and humiliated. He had hurt way too many people for the sake of his minor inconveniences, and he had hurt his brother too.
“I’m sorry, brother,” he cried as he held Arthur. “I’m glad I could change myself. Sorry.”
Arthur couldn’t utter a word. His tears flowed freely as he wrapped his arms around his brother. He was proud of the man Robert had become and the way he had reflected on his mistakes and corrected them. As a brother, Arthur couldn’t have asked for more.
What can we learn from this story?
Lies and secrets have a way of leaking out. While Arthur tried to hide the truth that he and Robert were brothers, the truth eventually surfaced one day.
It’s never too late to reflect on your mistakes and correct them. Doing so only makes you a better person in life. Three years after uncovering the truth about his and Arthur’s relationship, Robert changed and never regretted it.
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.