5Grandpa Jack and Big AlThe Need to Be More Than a Number

A kind word is like a spring day.

—Russian proverb

I remember when my wife and I were first married and needed to buy a car. To save some money, we ventured over to the industrial part of town where there were several discount car lots, like the one with the big sign that reads something like, “Big Al’s Cars,” with long strings of tiny triangular flags fluttering in the wind. The cars are jammed onto a gravel lot with prices written on the windshields, and a small trailer with caged windows sits off to one side. As you drive up, a man dressed in a suit from two decades ago emerges from the trailer. This must be Big Al, you assume. With an ear-to-ear grin and a swagger in his step, Big ...

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