The Invisible Hand… and Penny


Pam was a quiet lady, she did her job, was never late and her work was always in order. She had divorced long ago and her son, now a young man, lived in the city.

It became obvious to everyone at work that she was drinking heavily. The smell of alcohol infused the air around her. People whispered about it but didn’t confront her. Finally a complaint went to her Manager. It was now his duty to address the problem directly. He told her to take some time and get herself sorted out.

She did and seemed to be in control, but a short time after returning to work her consumption increased again. The problem was that Pam was lonely. Her only contact with people was at work and on the telephone to customers.

On her way home at night she often bought a bottle of whisky. Her Manager called her into his office again. “We can’t have this Pam,” he said. “I’m getting complaints about the smell of alcohol and it’s embarrassing to everyone around you. Go home.

Get yourself sorted out once and for all and don’t come back until you are sober and going regularly to the AA Group that you promised you would join.”

Pam left work feeling defeated and isolated. She didn’t have the confidence to stop drinking. She couldn’t bring herself to go to the AA Group alone. She felt cornered but didn’t want to lose her job, the only part of her life that she enjoyed.

Feeling trapped, she bought a bottle of whisky going home that night. It started with one small glass. Then, after a few drinks she concluded that there was no way out for her. She reached for the Tylenol and emptied the pills onto the table. One by one she put them into her mouth, washing them down with a gulp of whisky. It would be over quickly, she thought to herself—no more embarrassing moments for her co-workers. That was her Friday night after work.

The following Wednesday, a neighbour called the non-emergency police number. They broke down the door and found her lying dead on the kitchen floor. The pills scattered on the table, the whisky bottle empty. There was no note or explanation. A few days later her son identified the body.

I was at my desk working when I was overcome by a terrible smell of cigarette smoke. “Can you smell that?” I asked the girl behind me.

“No,” she replied, “smell what?”

“Cigarette smoke,” I told her.

“No, I can’t smell anything,” she said.

The smell continued to engulf me and then I got a distinct picture of Pam in my head. I recognized her instantly. At the same time one of our group was walking towards my desk talking aloud to everyone.

“They found Pam dead in her condo yesterday,” she announced.

I could see Pam in my mind’s eye, and knew she had not crossed over into the light. I saw her standing in the darkness. She was sad, alone and lost. Lonely in life and now also in death I thought. Quickly I spoke to my dead sister, Penny. I asked her if there was any way that she could help Pam. As I spoke to her, in my mind, I saw a hand appear through an open window, stretched out towards Pam. Pam reached for the hand and was quickly pulled into the light on the other side. On her way she said to me, “Thank you for caring,” then left.

I was so grateful to Penny for caring enough to help this lonely lady. I hope Pam finally found the happiness she was looking for. I believe she did.

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