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The Cloak In The Storm


Theresa Cecilia Garcia and Robert Brian Newbill

Have you ever tried to walk through wind so strong that you could hardly move? I hadn't, until that morning.

I had seen extreme weather before. I grew up at the far ends of both the hurricane belt and “tornado alley." Better judgment and disposition would have cautioned me to stay home, but I had a job to do. I was a stockbroker and the market doesn’t sleep. Thus and so I had to get into the city. Hoboken to Manhattan, not far.

But I had never experienced anything like this. I stepped out of my door and the wind not only tore my umbrella apart but also ripped the headphones of my walkman from my head.

The Hoboken Terminal was at least three feet deep in water, the NYC subway lines were flooded. NJ Transit buses were giving free rides. That was the only way to get into the city. And once you were on the island, surface routes were your only choice.

When I finally made it to the Financial District, the slightly built narrow streets held elderly people stuck to buildings. Some of these city dwellers were almost 12 inches off the ground because of the wind.

I walked through the narrow streets paved with irregular cobblestones. When I arrived at my office, my boss told me that the market was closed and to go home. I didn’t know whether to hug her or curse her and I was too tired already to even make a decision, so I left.

It took me 3 hours to get back to Jersey.

When I got back my boss called me. She said she had called everyone on our team, all her "kids", to make sure we were okay.

It reminded me of the old folklore THE CLOAK IN THE STORM.

Once there was a wealthy lady who was named Madame de Maillefer. She was a woman of idleness and vanity and would often spend large sums of money on her clothes, carriages, gardens, and banquets. Poor people were starving all around her but she cared not for them seeking only her own selfish pleasure. One day a beggar came to her asking for help and shelter from a furious storm. He was ill and weak. She told him to go about his business! One of Madame de Maillefer's servants took the beggar into the stable for rest and warmth and there he died. When told of the events the Mistress was furious with the servant and tossed a black cloak at him ordering that the begger be buried, dismissing the servant from his duties. The beggar was buried but that evening Madame de Maillefer who was about to seat herself for supper noticed the cloak which she had thrown at the servant on the floor next to the elegant table. Demanding an explanation all the servants of the household professed to know nothing about the cloak, except that they were all sure the beggar had been buried in it. Legend has it that since she had failed to show him compassion in life, he declined her cloak in death.

After a warm bath and a few cappuccinos I called my boss back and thanked her for her compassion.

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