Fast food is usually considered to be an enemy to your life span. But sometimes a slice of pizza, or a cup of coffee can actually save your life. It is indeed true that food can be a companion, an indulgence and even an unexpected savior. Sometimes, when building human connections are hard, we build special relationships with our food and then can be a life changing thing. Literally!
If miracles are true, food is often a way to find them. If you do not believe this, read on to find out how big a role food can play in one’s life.
A loner, in his fifties, Kirk Alexander hardly had anyone to call a friend or a foe. He did not indulge in any hobbies and his neighbors rarely saw him outside. There was, however, one thing that defined Kirk’s life. He loved his pizza from Domino’s. He ordered in a pie for himself online from the same Dominos store every single day.
He was known to the local store in Salem, Oregon as a regular. The store manager Sarah Fuller and the other employees knew his order choices by heart and could easily spot it among the day’s orders.
While Sarah and her team knew Kirk’s name and preferred order by heart, they had never actually seen him. He never called to place his order, so his voice was unfamiliar to the store employees as well. The only ones who ever saw Kirk were the delivery persons. Even that was not something they managed to do every day as Kirk rarely responded to the doorbell.
The staff at Domino’s were not the only ones who remained in the dark about Kirk. His neighbors rarely saw him around too. If anyone knocked to check on him, he seldom answered his door.
Kirk placed his orders daily with Domino’s for seven years. He always placed it online and never once called the Salem store personally. Conversations between the store employees and him were a rarity, but whenever he interacted with the delivery drivers, he was polite and courteous. None of the delivery drivers every reported any kind of misbehavior at the time of delivery. Kirk’s neighbors too did not have any recollections of ill behavior. Although he hardly socialized, whenever he did, he was respectful and well-mannered.
Due to this, everyone thought he was just an introvert. No one ever suspected anything might be wrong.
One day Kirk did not place his usual pizza order. He did not do it the next day either. Infact, he suddenly stopped placing his order.
No one noticed the absence of his order on the first couple of days. One day, Sarah mentioned that she had not seen Kirk’s order come in for sometime. That is when the others who noticed it too concurred with her.
Kirk had been placing his order consistently for seven years. He did not have any complaints against the food served or against the outlet. What could have caused the abrupt halting of orders?
Now, it is not unusual for people to take trips every now and then. Perhaps, after seven long years, Kirk was simply taking a vacation. Maybe he was visiting a family member, or maybe he was just enjoying a solo trip somewhere. Maybe his work required him to travel, or maybe he was simply taking a break from eating pizza. All these reasons were plausible and perhaps there was no cause of alarm. The only thing that did not fit in was the gut feeling of something being amiss. After all, Kirk ordered in daily, or at least on every other day for over seven years. His sudden silence hence raised some eyebrows
Sarah and her co-employees weren’t the only ones to notice the absence of Kirk’s regular orders. The delivery drivers too began taking about how none of them had made a delivery at Kirk’s for a while. After a few days had passed, Sarah decided to take it upon herself to investigate the reason for Kirk’s sudden silence. As a manager, she felt it was her job to check why a regular customer suddenly stopped ordering from their outlet. She first checked into the database for his last order. It was placed 11 days ago. This was the longest gap between any of Kirk’s orders.
Sarah was now genuinely concerned. Did some unfortunate event befall Kirk, or did he have a bad customer experience with the Salem outlet of Domino’s? After all, Kirk had been ordering consistently from the outlet for seven years, and he had suddenly stopped doing so.
Even though Kirk was a man of few words, surely if he had a bad experience with the company, he would leave them a message at least? The sudden lack of communication concerned the outlet’s staff. Even though they rarely spoke to him, he was a familiar person to everyone associated with the Salem outlet. To have lost him as a customer to a competitor would be bad, but to have done so without knowing what went wrong would be worse.
Sarah and her co-workers were sure that Kirk did not get bored with his pizza. After all, he was used to varying his order every now and then. He would sometimes order in pasta or wings. On very rare occasions, he had even placed an order for a Domino’s specialty sandwich. So the staff relied on their gut feeling. Something was wrong, and they needed to get to the root of it.
Sarah and her team decided to independently find out what happened. They decided to send someone over to Kirk’s home for the purpose.
Driver Tracey Hamblen decided to take on the task of dropping by at Kirk’s residence on behalf of Sarah and the rest. In all his interactions with Kirk, Tracey had never had an unpleasant experience. So he was happy to volunteer.
As Tracey pulled up in front of Kirk’s home, he could see the house lights on. He could also hear the television inside. He knocked on the front door but there was no answer. These would have been signs of normalcy on a regular day. Kirk was known to leave his door unanswered often. However, Tracey felt something was not okay. He grew anxious and had a sickening feeling deep within.
Tracey Hamblen waited for an answer after knocking on the door. Kirk was polite and friendly in all his previous interactions with Tracey. He was sure that if Kirk had an issue with an order, he would definitely let Tracey know. He would also likely appreciate the outlet’s attempt to reach out to him.
There was, however, no answer. Tracey knocked a couple of times more. When he did not get a response, he called on Kirk’s phone number. The calls were sent to voicemail.
Tracey knocked on the door harder yet no one opened.
Tracey returned to the store and reported what happened. The gut feeling he had previously did not subside, and the store employees agreed that things did not look quite right. They tried to call on Kirk’s number again, but each time the call connected to Kirk’s voicemail.
Sarah weighed in the options. If the lights and television in Kirk’s house were on, then something must be wrong. Although he was not a social person, and he often did not get his door, Kirk was not the kind to rudely ignore so many successive calls or knocks.
Sarah decided to call up the Emergency Services to check in on Kirk.
Sarah’s co-workers agreed that they should call 911. She decided to place the call as the store’s Manager. Tracey Hamblen volunteered to do it instead as he was the one who had actually paid Kirk the visit.
If Kirk needed emergency help, every minute counted and Tracey would be the best person to answer any specific questions the police might have.
When the call was placed, the operator asked for details regrading the nature of the emergency. Tracy responded, “This is Domino’s Pizza, and we have a customer that usually orders like every night from us. And he hasn’t ordered in 11 days.”
The operator connected Tracey to the Marion County Sheriff’s department. He was asked again why he thought the matter merited a call to the Emergency Services. Tracey explained how frequent Kirk’s usual orders were and how this sudden disappearance for 11 days was highly unlike him as a customer. Her further elaborated on the lack of response he was met with at Kirk’s house despite the lights and the television being on.
Tracey detailed out the complete lack of direct communication with Kirk. He also emphasized on how all calls led to the voicemail, and knocks on the door remained unanswered.
As Tracey talked to the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, he noted with relief that he was not dismissed as a prankster. The authorities took everything he said with serious attention to detail. They decided to act on Tracey’s call immediately and investigate if Kirk was alright.
Tracey hung up the call with relief and let his co-workers know that the Sheriff’s Department was sending deputies to Kirk’s home immediately. As they were being sent by the Department, they had emergency authority to enter Kirk’s house without permission should they feel Kirk was in danger.
Now there was nothing more to be done except wait for the deputies to respond with their findings.
When the trained personnel from the Sheriff’s Department reached Kirk’s residence, they were not sure what they would find. They were ready to deal with whatever the situation brought. They followed the usual procedure of knocking on the door and asking Kirk to open up.
As first responders, these officers were used to dealing with the unexpected. Even so, every 911 call was a stressful situation that required different kinds of handling, Kirk’s situation too needed to be handled as the situation demanded. As they knocked, they could see the lights and hear the television. As with Tracey before, no one answered the door.
When the deputies’ pounding on the door remained unanswered, they got ready to break the door or force it open. This was going to be an authorized breaking in due to lack of response. However, just as the deputies were going about this task, one of them heard a faint voice from inside the house. It was weak and barely audible. It sounded like a man crying out for help.
The deputies hurried to break the door and rushed in. They found Kirk lying on the floor. They wasted no time and called in for paramedical help. An ambulance soon arrived outside the residence of Kirk Alexander.
The commotion brought the neighbors out. They watched the paramedics rush in to treat Kirk. From outside, all they could make out was that Kirk was in dire need of medical attention. They watched as the frail body of Kirk Alexander was put on a stretcher and carried into the ambulance. They watched the ambulance head out of the neighborhood with its emergency lights on.
Kirk was taken to a hospital. It seemed like Kirk had suffered from a stroke. Apparently he had suffered from minor strokes prior to this incident too. The question was, did medical aid reach him in time?
One could tell that the ambulance had reached Kirk in the nick of time, However, it wasn’t certain how long Kirk had been lying in that condition. The ambulance was able to rush him to the emergency department alive, but he was in a poor state. The paramedics were barely able to stabilize his vitals on the way. Every minute was precious for Kirk’s survival.
There a team of doctors and nurses took over. It was discovered that Kirk was extremely dehydrated. He had been on the floor for a long time. It was a miracle that he was still conscious and able to speak.
As the medical team fought to save Kirk, the workers at Domino’s waited for news from the Sheriff’s Department, They had no idea of what was going on or how crucial their role had been in saving Kirk.
Kirk had received medical attention just in time. He would be okay. He will be able to recover well although he was going to need a lot of monitoring and medical help. Once this was clear, the Sheriff’s Department called Sarah’s team and gave them an update.
The staff at Domino’s was immensely relieved. Kirk was alive and he will recuperate.
The Domino’s staff was eager to pay a visit to Kirk at the hospital. They used their personal savings to buy cards and flowers for Kirk and headed to the hospital as soon as they were given permission to visit. Kirk was not just a valued customer, they cared for him as a person. They worried about his well-being. They needed to let him know that he was not alone. They wanted him to realize that they were always there to watch out for him as fellow community members.
The staff at Domino’s wished to boost Kirk’s morale and will to survive.
The Domino’s staff had a shocking first visit with Kirk at the hospital. While they were expecting a sickly patient, they were not anticipating the alarmingly frail and weak sight of Kirk. Kirk had no energy, and he was barely able to talk. He only responded with a yes or a no. Even that took him a lot of effort. The team kept the visit short and allowed him to rest.
They found out that Kirk would have to spend a long time in the hospital. When he was fit to be discharged he would be sent to the rehabilitation center.
Medical reports showed that Kirk had been lying unattended post the stroke for a very long time. This left a crippling effect on his overall health. However, things could have been a lot worse. Had the ambulance arrived at scene a few hours later, perhaps, Kirk would no longer been alive.
It was a miracle that help reached him in the nick of time. The delay in receiving medical attention made his recovery painfully slow, but the Domino’s staff was happy to note that he had improved slightly when they went back to visit him again in a few days.
As Kirk convulsed, his strength and stamina began improving. He also began showing slight improvements in his speech. Meanwhile, the news of his rescue had caught media attention and several seniors in Domino’s chain of command stopped by to pay him a visit.
Kirk was shifted to the rehabilitation center in a few days. Here he was allowed to have visitors stay for a longer duration. He alays received his visitors courteously. Under the care fo the staff at the hospital, Kirk made slow but steady progress on the road to recovery.
Salem’s Domino’s outlet was able to save Kirk Alexander’s life not because of a secret pizza recipe. They did not do it because they wanted to be heroes either. They did it out of genuine concern. Over the years, the employees of the Salem branch of Dominos had managed to build great customer relationships. They knew their loyal customers. Great customer service was an important component of Domino’s PR ethics. The Salem branch was an example of how this could set a company apart from others in any industry.
Domino’s Pizza has an incredible history of being more than a business. It is a contributing part of the community. A customer is not just someone who brings business to the company. Each store belongs to the neighborhood it is located in. Each store strives to build interpersonal relationships with their customers. It is not enough to accept the adage that the customer is king. Domino’s attempts to make the customer feel like a king by caring about them. Kirk is not the only one who has been helped by the company at a time of distress. Domino’s has often helped its customers in need,
Sarah Fuller is proud of the call her team collectively took for Kirk Alexander. The entire staff of the Salem outlet of Domino’s was thrust into media attention as local heroes once news of the rescue mission spread. However, Sarah and her team do not really see themselves as heroes. They are humbled by the title given by the society, but they feel they only did what responsible fellow community members should do. While talking to one media house, Sarah mentioned that the team was only doing their job in following up on someone who was a regular customer.
For a small city like Salem, the incident with Kirk Alexander was clearly not an ordinary everyday occurrence. It was carried by the local Salem newspaper and it soon caught the attention of bigger publications with a larger circulation base. Like wildfire, the story caught more and more media attention and the Salem branch of Domino’s Pizza was soon the talk of the nation. The Domino’s Public Relations Department began receiving requests for interviews and exclusive stories on the Salem branch from far and wide. Sarah and her team were soon the center of attention and so was the small city of Salem.
The newspapers weren’t the only media following up on the story. Good Morning America requested an interview of not only Sarah Fuller but also of her assistant manager, Jenny Seiber. When the request was granted, the popular television show sent a camera crew to Salem. Sarah and Jenny did a live interview and the host Robin Roberts thanked the duo on air for having “restored our belief in doing the right thing.” This was not the only thing Robin did on the show that had Sarah and Jenny recount in detail for the nation everything leading up to Kirk’s rescue.
Host Robin Roberts expressed gratitude and pleasure on behalf of the entire team of Good Morning America and gave Sarah’s team a surprise that filled them with joy. The entire team at the Salem branch was treated to an airing of the newly released blockbuster “Captain America: Civil War.” Indeed, the Chris Evans starter was a fitting surprise for the real life superheroes. The gesture was greatly appreciated by the Salem staff.
In addition to this, Roberts revealed that Sarah, Jenny and Tracey, the deliver driver, would receive another unexpected gift. This gift was something none of them had imagined in their wildest dreams.
It turned out that Sarah, Jenny and Tracey caught the eye of the senior most officials at Domino’s. The heads were impressed by the way the three of them carried out their actions leading to Kirk’s rescue, and they hence organized an in-person meet up with the trio. Domino’s holds an annual event called the Domino’s Worldwide Rally. Sarah, Jenny, and Tracey were invited to come to the year’s convention, so they could be felicitated personally by the company. The annual rally was going to be in Las Vegas and the trio were gifted an all-expenses-paid trip for attending it. Robin’s announcement made these ladies’jaws drop.
As news of the incident spread, newspapers, radio, television and other news channels showered Sarah, Jenner, Tracey and the rest of the team with a lot of praise. The media and the higher officials at Dominos weren’t the only ones lauding the staff of Salem’s Domino’s branch for their selfless act. The Marion County Sheriff’s Department, which had received and acted upon the call placed on that fateful night, also released an official statement praising the way the team acted as responsible members of the community. The statement praised the team for their quick actions and decisions and thanked the staff for the same.
The Marion County Sheriff’s Department officially released a statement that said, “The Sheriff’s Office would like to personally thank Mr. Hamblen for his quick actions and willingness to take time out of his day to care for others.”
In the course of the seven years of delivering orders, Tracey Hamblen had been able to build a strong doorstep friendship with a quiet person like Kirk. This helped him gain some knowledge of Kirk’s past medical issues. Being able to build such a rapport with customers is a rarity. Tracey truly deserves to be acknowledged a hero for volunteering to help out at a time when most would prefer sticking to their own business.
While the media surrounded the staff of Salem’s Domino’s branch and gave wings to their story of heroism, they were not the only ones who received global attention. Kirk’s progress and recovery too received much media coverage.
The team at Domino’s continued to work their shifts and earn their salaries in a bid to keep providing quality custom service. As they continued to keep their daily routines, they also took turns to visit Kirk regularly.
Kirk’s journey to normalcy was a long one and the team prioritized him over the media attention. They wanted to continue giving his morale a boost, so he could keep his chin up during the most trying times. Kirk is often overwhelmed by the team’s magnanimity. He hopes he will be back home soon and will be able to return to his old routine of ordering in from his beloved neighborhood Domino’s. This practice has after all brought him lifelong friends and a literal fresh lease of life.
When he walked in through the door, she did not need to look up to check who it was. She knew it would be him. He always came with the same order. However today he stumbled into the store in a manner that instantly made her feel something was amiss. she could not place a finger on what made her feel this way but she knew today was different. She could not keep up the act and got involved without realizing that her simple act today would completely change the course of life for this man in front of her.
Vince Villano, a war vet and a resident of the small town of DuPont, led a predictable clockwork life. He followed a scheduled routine everyday and he was happy to stick to it for years. Every morning as he left for work, he stopped by the local Starbucks store to buy a specific thing. The former Sergeant did it for years and the barista had come to anticipate his daily check-in. The staff was familiar with his regular habit. So even though he had hardly stepped inside the store otherwise, the years of familiarity was enough to suggest that something was off about him that day.
Nicole McNeil manned the coffee machines behind the bar every morning at the local Starbucks in the small town of DuPont. She prided herself for knowing her clients well. By habit, she would begin getting the order ready for Vince, the moment she heard him walk in for his morning coffee.She had her personal nicknames for the regulars at the coffee bar. She referred to each by their preferred drink. It helped her remember her orders during rush hours. She did not know anything about Vince except for the coffee he drank each day. Yet he was a familiar face.
That cold morning in January 2017, Vince walked into his local Starbucks as usual. He tottered, but to a casual onlooker that would not be unusual. The roads were cold and it was easy to slip and stumble over them in such a season. As he walked in, Nicole began prepping for his usual order but she was quick to note that he was not his usual self.
He was tucking his hands into his coat pockets in an unusual manner. A quick glance at him was enough to send Nicole’s sixth sense on high alert mode. Something was wrong and she must find out what.
Vince was one of the early customers at the Starbucks where Nicole worked. He came in daily and this made Nicole assume that he was someone who needed his coffee early morning to get his day going. A lot of people needed a caffeine boost to function in the mornings so this was not an unusual thing. What Nicole did not know was that Vince’s morning routine was born out of a very different kind of necessity. Something preoccupied his mind. Perhaps it had something to do with his turbulent past. It was getting worse and that morning he was literally carrying a load on his head.
When Vincent was young, he had dreams of studying at the College of the Siskiyous, California. The college had sportsmen like Dan Hawkins and Mark Acre for its alumni. Sports did not interest Vince however. He was more keen to attend the courses on emergency medication and pharmacy.
Fate too had her own plans for Vince and he was called to serve his country like many of his age. Vince took to the battlefield. He soon found out he was no regular soldier. He had a different calling.
When Vince joined the armed forces he did not know he would be signing up over ten years of his life to serving the country. He did finish his college in his preferred subject. But he did not practice it for long. Even before he realized it he had been designated to a Sergeant’s post. All these years as he served the nation as a soldier, he also worked as an emergency medic. The daily gore on the battlefields caused him much distress. When he left the military, he tried to put his past behind him and start afresh.
Once back from the military, Vince tried to lead a regular life. He decided to turn to the field of insurance. He opened up a small branch of National Farmers Insurance Company and made an effort to work 9 to 5 like most insurance sellers. He worked like any regular civilian.He tried to escape memories of living in close quarters with death on the warfront everyday. Unfortunately, it was not an easy thing to do. He did not anticipate the worst was yet to come. No matter how bright the day was, the night descended with equal ferocity on Vince.
Vince had heard adjusting to civilian life after working as a serviceman was a tough task. He did not know how painful the process was until he tried to re-enter civilian life himself. Vince, did what many ex-servicemen do. He created a routine for himself and attempted to stick to it. This involved starting his day with a cup of coffee from Starbucks on his way to work. He followed it religiously and for several years, he found himself being served by the same barista. Nicole was part of his morning routine now. What neither Nicole nor Vince realize was that they would soon be involved in much more of each other’s lives. that fate was planning to throw them together. Everything could change with a simple question.
Nicole McNeil did her schooling in Tacoma before going on to study building management in Washington University. She lived an average life filled with dreams and ambitions. She was a bright girl who wanted to make it big. She graduated in 2005. That very year she met her spouse, Justin. Justin and she built a life together while she went on to eventually become a barista. He and Vince shared something common. Nicole did not notice it initially, but once she started asking the questions, she could not help notice the similarities the two men shared.
Justin Mc Neil was also a retired Sergeant. Nicole and he had three children. He had served the nation in a uniform just like Vince did. He too returned with scars he wished to forget.
As an ex serviceman, Justin like Vince had seen the battlefield from up and close. Nicole had no idea about this although she had served Vince his morning coffee for several years now. She did not know this until that fateful morning when she decided to ask her regular customer the questions. as she continued to probe, she discovered something else that Vince had in common with her husband.
Nicole started working at the DuPont Starbucks in 2014. She knew what coffee Vince drank and around what hour he would come to pick it up. She also studied his appearance and behavior enough to know when something was off about him. However this was all that Nicole knew about the regular customer she had been serving for over 3 years. In comparison Vince knew even less about her. She was just the familiar barista who served him his morning coffee. The two were familiar with each other’s faces but were still by and large complete strangers. That will soon change.
Nicole had a professional but friendly relationship with her customers. As someone working in the service industry, she tried to remember what her clients liked to order and how they preferred being served. She took special note of the regulars. She was highly observant of details like people’s body language, demeanor and vocabulary. This was part of her job Because she was constantly making an effort to know her clients, she was able to pick up signals of Vince not being his usual self the moment he walked in to the store that day. She only needed one glance to confirm that he was feeling very low.
When in January 2017, her regular client walked in looking like the world just ended, Nicole could not stop herself from going over to ask what was wrong. She was after all a mother of three and the sight of someone hurting was not something she could casually let slip. Her customer looked ash-faced and drained. She could see he was under duress. As she puts it later on the official Starbucks website: “As a barista, we can really tell when our customers are sad and when they’re hurting.”
What happens when she reaches out to Vince is an incredible tale.
On the cold morning of January 2017, Nicole’s shift as a barista was just coming to an end when Vince walked in through the doors. She could take up one last customer before handing over the shift and Vince happened to come in at just the right time. She did not mind serving the regular customer and was reaching out to beefing making his order even before he had approached the bar. That is when she noticed something was off about him. All week, although there would be hardly any change in his expressions, Nicole could tell how he was feeling. That day he define as not his usual self.
Talking to MailOnline Nicole shared how Vince looked glum on a regular day. He seemed to just want to take his coffee as go. He never stopped to talk to anyone and generally stayed aloof. He had a sad look about him. when that morning Vince walked in looking worse than on other days, she had a sudden fleeting thought. Could Vince be suffering from PTSD?
He looked like he was bearing a lot of weight all by himself. He was a war veteran. It was common for those who returned from the battlefields to have PTSD. He looked like something big was bothering him and hardly letting him breathe. Nicole of course had no way of knowing this. She just suspected that this may be the case.
Nicole took the freshly made coffee and went up to Vince . “30-ounce vanilla cold brew with extra vanilla.” She announced before setting it in front of him. With a slight pause, she asked, “Is everything OK?” It was a question filled with genuine concern. Her question threw Vince off guard. He felt hesitant to answer. Yet the question Nicole asked pressed him to give one. It demanded that he replied with something. Neither he nor Nicole could have anticipated the kind of conversation that would unfold due to that one question of concern. It would change both their lives and there was no going back from it.
Nicole waited for a response. Vince looked at her unsure of what he should do. He finally replied that the story was too long to share. She told him that she was getting off her shift and so she had time to spare if he needed a listening ear for his troubles. She could hang around for half an hour before she left. She had to pick up her children. Vince decided to share part of his story with the friendly warm-hearted barista. She had just given him what he really needed desperately at that moment- a friend willing to listen to him.
Once Vince began talking, it did not take long for Nicole to confirm her fleeting suspicions. The man in front of her had b en a soldier. He had been a marine. He has seemingly made the soldier-civilian transition with ease. He was not suffering from PTSD, or at least he did not seem to be. In fact his story of transition sounded so seamless, he seemed to be suffering from something on the opposite spectrum of PTSD. She did not know what that was.
Yet he was too gloomy that morning. If the veteran had no issues integrating him setback into society what was bothering him so much to put him in such a sad mood?
Vince did not want to die. He was afraid of death and although he survived it at the battlefield, death was closing in upon him now. He was suffering from Polycystic Kidney Disease, a complex disease that creates cysts in one’s kidneys forcing the kidneys to expand and shut down. The disease ran in Vince’s family. Vince’s father suffered much at the hands of this disease while another family member lost the battle of life to the disease. Among other things, the disease was known to cause severe complications, like renal failure and hypertension.
The diagnosis affected Vince deeply. He had to come to terms with it.
If one wanted information on the disease in greater detail, the definition up on the Mayo Clinic website might be of use. The definition states: “Polycystic kidney disease is an inherited disorder in which clusters of cysts develop primarily within your kidneys. [They cause] your kidneys to enlarge and lose function over time. Cysts are noncancerous round sacs containing fluid.”
It continued to explain: “The cysts vary in size, and they can grow very large.” In short, the It disease is a debilitating one with no complete cure. Once a person has it, they have it for the rest of their lives.
That cold morning in January 2017, Vince had arrived at the coffee shop thrown off track with knowledge of fresh developments in his diagnosis. His disease was spreading. He had not been able to process it and was moving around his daily routine like clockwork. He did not know how long he could have sustained the mechanical living had not Nicole intervened with her question . He remembers feeling like “ I am dying.” He could not control anything about it. He felt hopeless. It was a different kind of hopelessness than the one he felt when he saw death from close quarters on the battlefield. He did not think he could do anything about it.
Truth be told, Vince was already regularly getting a dialysis since 2016. But death was creeping up upon him slowly and steadily. Each day seemed like a tep closer to it. In the days leading up to the conversation with Nicole, he had undergone more tests. His doctors asked him to prepare for the inevitable. He needed a kidney transplant for a slim chance at survival. What Vince said stayed with Nicole for a long time. That evening when they were alone, Nicole confided in Justin about the morning’s conversation. She was very disturbed and Justin could sense that. He made a proposal.
It did not take Justin a moment’s hesitation to make the offer. It was a simple and straightforward one. He told his wife, if a kidney was what her customer needed, he could give Vince one of his. Nicole was not at all surprised by Justin’s offer. She had always known him to be a kind and generous person. If anyone could have said it so simply, it had to be Justin.
Nicole did not Immediately respond to the offer but she did invite Vince to her birthday. Vince soon found himself getting more invitations to Nicole’s household. These occasions gave him and Justin time to acquaint themselves with each other. They were soon good friends.
Although Vince was new to the family, he soon built a rapport with Justin as well as Nicole’s three kids. Nicole felt happy to see the bonds grow and Vince too liked the company of the Mac Neils. Justin made his proposal to Vince openly. The offer was one he could not refuse. Yet Vince hesitated. Finding a donor match was a tough cookie. He did not want to get his hopes up too high with the assumption that Justin might turn out to be a match. He and Justin went for tests and he desperately wished the results came in his favor. After all he did not have much time.
Justin went in for a blood test to check if he could be a donor match for Vince.
The test first checks if the blood type of the potential donor matches with that of the recipient. It then checks for compatibility between the two. More than one blood sample is required for the comprehensive tests. If the first stage of tasting is cleared, the tests go on to check for tissue typing and cross-matching. The entire testing process took a year to yield the final results. What he found out was to change his life forever but would the results favor Vince?
Justin’s results were the kinds miracles are made of. He did qualify as a match for Vince! The two veterans wasted no time in setting a date for the operation once the results were out. On 26 December, Vince would take a gamble on his life and so would Justin.Vince was taking a chance with his last hope. Justin who would have just turned 36 a day earlier would be taking the gamble with no regrets. He did not see donating an organ as a question to debate upon. He had two kidneys and could easily spare one for someone who was battling for life.
On 26th December both Vince and Justin were wheeled into the operating theatre with hope. The process took a long time but the transplant turned out to be successful. Nicole broke the news on social media in the evening.
With one selfless act of organ donation, Justin had gifted Vince, a replacement kidney which could potentially add about 20 years more to Vince’s life. That bought Vince enough time until he found a second donor. Vince managed to evade death by a close shave again and this time he gained a family of thick friends along the way.
This was possible only because a barista knew that not all who walk into a cafe are looking for a caffeine boost. Humanity is what keeps the world going round.