Dad's Lunch Pail: A Short Story

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I want Dad's lunch pail. I imagine it on my desk, right next to my computer, holding all my pens, notebooks and stick-'em pads. A reminder of a promise made, and a promise kept. So I pester him. "Have you found it yet?" "I don't even know if I have it anymore," he told me. "I may have thrown it out when I left the plant." Please, no. My father does not understand why his lunch pail matters to me, probably because he never thought his job mattered, either. For 36 years, my dad worked in maintenance for the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company. He was 20, already married and the father of two-month-old me when he walked through the doors of the power plant carrying a union card and a brand-new black metal lunch pail. He never replaced it. By the time he retired, there were holes on the bottom corners where metal nubs used to be.…show more content…
Most evenings, it lay open on the kitchen counter until my mother filled the Thermos with milk and made four sandwiches wrapped in wax paper. Sometimes she drew a funny picture on his paper napkin, or scribbled a little note. "I love you," she would write in her loopy backhand. "Meatloaf for dinner!" When I was little, I didn't understand what Dad did for a living. His job was simply the thing that kept him away. He worked a lot of overtime, and even when he came home on time, he had little to say about his day. Little good, anyway. "You could teach a monkey to do what I do," he said some evenings to no one in particular, staring straight ahead as he nursed his Stroh's. At 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, my father was a giant to me, and I could not bear to imagine him any other way. I would scurry off, unwilling to meet his gaze. Once I started working for a living, I occasionally prodded my father to tell me about his
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