Once upon a time there was an owner of a 7-11 convenience store. This was back in the times when names meant something; in the days before convenience stores never closed.

This owner cared very much about the well-being of his franchise, and unlike other owners, he was there every morning when the store opened, and he was there every night when the store closed, although he was not there for all of the time in between.

For twenty years, the man did this: cleaned and opened the store in the morning; locked and cleaned the store at night. In this way, the man was an excellent caretaker.

Then one day, the owner got a phone call. This was on a land line, as these were different times. “Your store must be like the others,” the person on the other end said, “and it must remain open around the clock.”

The man did not want to do this, as he was content with his store as it had been since it opened. He thought for a long time about what to do. He could not go against the wishes of the man on the other line of the phone, for they could revoke his franchise license, and that would be terrible. He could not change the name of his convenience store, because he felt a great loyalty. And he could not continue to operate his store as he had done lo these many years.

And so the man sold his store. A young man accepted the keys, and gave the owner money, and promised the owner that he would shepherd the store through the next journey.

The man went home. He spent more time with his wife, and his children, and his grandchildren. His wife was grateful that the man was home when she awoke, for he no longer needed to get up early to open the store; and she was happy the man was home when she went to bed, for he no longer needed to go out late to close the store.

But the man was still not happy. He woke up aimless and puttered through his day, doing things he liked to do: he built model trains, and read his books. He perfected several recipes which had evaded him, and he completed his collections of stamps and pennies. And yet he was not happy.

One morning, the man woke up while it was still dark outside and could not go back to sleep. He lay next to his sleeping wife and listened to all the little sounds his house made. He got up and walked through the dark rooms. He started a pot of coffee. He cleaned the large windows in the living room. At seven o’clock, he unlocked the front door.

That night, after he and his wife went to bed, he could not sleep. He listened to his wife breathing for a long time before getting out of bed. He swept the kitchen floor and wiped off the counters. He took out the garbage and ran the dishwasher. At eleven o’clock, he made sure the door was locked, turned off all the lights, and fell asleep quickly.

In this way did the man live out the rest of his days content.

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