A Parked Car
He and his wife went about their day like they usually did and spent the afternoon taking inventory for their deli.
The man's expression changed when he looked outside and found the black sedan parked outside the building. Without realizing it, he squinted to get a better look and saw something that had him racing towards the car.
When Ali Farouk decided to buy a local deli in a small town in Cleveland, he only sought to provide for his family while also keeping the almost five-decade-old store cum restaurant alive.
He’d recently moved into the town with his wife and two sons and wanted to fit in as fast as possible. But what he would witness in his new neighborhood would drive him to extremes he never thought possible.
The Land Of Opportunity
Ali was like most immigrants looking to make the most of their time in a new country. After enduring troubling times in his country of origin and managing to get his family to the safety of American soil, he only wanted to start life afresh.
He and his wife lived in New York for a few years before deciding to relocate to Cleveland for a quieter environment where they could raise their family. They had no idea what awaited them there.
Buying The Deli
Ali had saved up enough money to start a business. He’d spent a few months scoping out the perfect occupation to venture into and soon ran into a small deli that needed a new owner.
Of course, he purchased the establishment without wasting any time. It blended well with his lifestyle, given that he’d been a cook back in New York, amassing knowledge in the culinary arts. He was confident he was where he was always meant to be. He was wrong.
For Ali and his family, their new small town was everything they ever wanted in a place to call home. The weather was great, and the people were welcoming.
Before they knew it, their family had already amalgamated with the localities. But instead of everything running smoothly, things began taking a turn for the worst. It wouldn’t be long until Ali did the unthinkable.
The Global Decision
For most business owners, their establishments are usually their primary source of income. It is no surprise that they would give their all to shield them from danger.
The problems for Ali began as soon as the country, like many other nations worldwide, declared lockdown. The indirect consequence of such a necessary global decision would change everything his family knew.
A New Reality
“Most of our neighbors, friends, business associates, and acquaintances needed to work from home to feed their loved ones and pay the bills,” reported Ali as he recalled the start of the problem. “Most of them lost their jobs as these positions couldn’t support the work-from-home model.”
Many families began struggling through the lockdown period, with some going for days without adequate food. Although the lockdown would eventually be lifted, the issues it had brought would linger.
The country had lifted most of the strict rules it had placed for the people’s safety. But Ali’s neighborhood was having problems recovering.
“I know several people who are still unemployed,” said Ali. The poverty rate in his town had suddenly shot up, leading to one of the most unfortunate things he had ever seen.
The day the event took place was as normal as any other for Ali and his wife. It was late afternoon, and they were checking inventory in their deli.
Ali spotted something that made his brows furrow. Just outside the building, a black sedan was parked. He didn’t think much of it at first but, on a closer look, found himself jumping over the counter.
Inside The Car
The car had been parked outside the deli for almost twenty minutes before the driver rolled down his window. That’s when Ali saw it.
Two kids were crying in the back of the car, a rugged-looking man desperately trying to soothe them. Keen to know what was happening, Ali hastened out of the deli. The kids were in trouble.
The Man And The Kids
Ali found the man trying to calm the kids. He expected some hostility out of him but was shocked to hear how gentle his voice was. He was telling the kids that he didn’t have enough money to buy them breakfast or lunch.
But that wasn’t the saddest part. The man was looking to buy a few supplies for the house and told the kids they would eat back home. One of the children said something that made Ali stop in his tracks.
“The child said they hadn’t eaten since the previous night and was begging his dad to bring them a slice of peach cobbler pie,” said Ali. That’s when he knew he had to step in.
Approaching the man, Ali introduced himself and immediately offered to help. He offered to cook a special meal for the man and his kids, ensuring that he’d make enough to eat at the deli and carry home. He had no idea what he’d started.
It Happens Again
Although the man initially hesitated, he accepted Ali’s offer, eating at the deli and taking the rest of the food home. But a day later, a different customer came into the store, buying food but unable to fully pay for it.
The trend continued for about two weeks, with different customers coming in for small food portions because they were low on cash. Ali was fed up with the state of things.
When Ali moved to America, he wanted to find a place he could call home, somewhere free of suffering. He didn’t want to exist in a place riddled with issues. But deep down, he felt like he could make a positive difference.
He’d already helped one of the customers, and although he knew that wasn’t enough, he hoped it helped. That’s when a thought hit him: what if he could do more?
With the help of his wife, Ali put up a blunt sign that read, “If you don’t have money or a job, you can have a sandwich and a water bottle for free.” Perhaps such a deed would help alleviate the stress and suffering in his neighborhood.
When asked about what drove him to such a noble deed, he said, “My family and I have been blessed beyond measure. There are people out there who are still suffering. I hope this can show them they have someone to count on.” But Ali’s story isn’t the only one of its kind. A similar incident took place just a few miles down the road.
Leticia Jackson was a sixty-seven-year-old grandma living outside of Ali’s town. She was a loving lady with a heart of gold who had made a name for herself as the town’s beloved librarian.
Leticia had one kid, Dolly, with her late husband. There was nothing she loved more than her little girl, and she would do anything to see her smile.
Dolly grew into an intelligent and equally beautiful young woman as the years went by. She excelled in everything she did, making Leticia a proud mom at every turn.
At age twenty, Dolly had secured a spot for herself in one of the best medical schools in the country. But such a remarkable feat would lead to an unfortunate disaster.
She’s Very Proud
Like any mom worldwide, Leticia was more than proud of her Dolly. She always talked about her to her friends and colleagues, telling them about her smart kid studying to be a doctor.
As expected, Dolly graduated med-school with flying colors, kicking her career as a full-fledged doctor into gear. She had no idea the trouble it would all lead down the line.
Time Moves Fast
Dolly excelled as a doctor, even finding love and getting married. She had three daughters with her husband before disaster struck.
The first phase of this terrible time came in the middle of the night. Dolly and her daughters were visiting Leticia when they heard the phone ring. It was Dolly’s cell, and she picked it up from her bed. But the news would send her jumping to her feet with a scream.
Dolly received news that her husband, who had been a long-time marine, had succumbed to injuries while on the field. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
Leticia raced into her room to find her bitterly weeping on the floor with her phone clutched in her fingers. Her three kids were sound asleep on the bed. What was going on?
A Difficult Time
The months that followed were numbing for both Leticia and Dolly. And as if the pain wasn’t enough, two of Dolly’s children became terribly ill.
Leticia had long retired by then. Her work didn’t have any pension, but she still managed to make ends meet through her loving daughter’s support. But one day, all this would change.
A Grey Life
Life had lost its color after Dolly’s husband passed on. Leticia tried her best to cheer up her daughter, hoping she would move on.
The mom and daughter duo worked hard on Dolly’s healing process, helping her understand that she still had to be strong for her three daughters. Things were starting to look up for them when more disaster struck.
When Will It Stop?
Dolly’s two daughters, who were sick before, were fully recovered. But the world went into lockdown overnight, turning everything the family knew into unchartered territory.
As a celebrated doctor, Dolly still reported to the hospital as an essential worker. But given that the pandemic had only started, the worst thing would happen to her.
It Gets Worse
Dolly was among the many unfortunate medical practitioners to fall under critical condition while helping stabilize the world. The news shocked Leticia, who couldn’t wrap her mind around how these later years of her life seemed cursed.
She prayed for her daughter’s recovery for several weeks, taking her granddaughters to live with her. But more difficult times were still ahead.
Trying To Survive
As a pensionless retiree, Dolly found it difficult raising three ten-year-old girls by herself. She was almost seventy, with not as much energy to do what moms do for their kids.
It wasn’t long before she found it difficult to put food on the table for her grandkids. Her daughter’s bosses had promised her help was on the way. But after weeks of waiting, Leticia knew she was alone.
The Stars Won’t Align
Leticia had spent weeks trying to get the cash her daughter had authorized the bank to send her way. A successful medical practitioner, Dolly had saved enough cash to help her mom through the difficult time while she was recovering.
But given that the world was in lockdown, accessing any of the money was a huge problem. But what could the sixty-seven-year-old do?
One day, Leticia took her grandkids to the local diner to ask for some food. She’d considered going alone, but she brought them along since she had no one to watch over them.
After waiting in line for a few minutes, she called the manager to the side and explained her situation. She didn’t need much, just a few chicken pieces and some mac and cheese for the kids. “How will you pay?” the manager asked.
I Will Pay
Leticia slid her national ID over to the manager, telling him to keep it as a promise that she’d be back to clear her bill. Her three grandkids were playing at one of the booths, oblivious of the hardships she was going through.
The manager, Mr. Harun, looked at them for minutes. Then he looked back at Leticia. What he said left her in tears.
She Doesn’t Cry
Leticia had always been a strong woman. She could count the number of times she’d shed tears as an adult in one hand.
The manager’s answer would catch her off guard, dredging up all the sorrow she’d been holding back through her daughter’s grieving period and her own loss. Streams of tears would flow down her face.
You Are Not Alone
“Let me fix you guys a bag,” the manager began. He placed several pieces of chicken, lemons cakes, mac and cheese, and bbq in a massive bag and offered it to Leticia.
The food must’ve cost more than two hundred dollars, yet he insisted she takes it and comes for more throughout the week until she was back on her feet again. “I know it seems like you are alone,” he said. “But look around. We are all here for you!” Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author's imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.