The old man pushed mightily, before the large, heavy door finally opened with a loud squeak. Sighing wearily, using the scythe he carried as a walking stick, he shuffled across the room to the receptionist.
Smiling brightly, the woman adjusted her nodest jacket before announcing, “Welcome to Earth’s Human Relations Office, Mister 2022. Saint Peter will be ready to conduct your exit interview as soon as he is finished advising young Mister 2023. Mister 2023 will be taking over your job after your exit interview at the stroke of midnight.”
Sinking with a plop onto one of the waiting room chairs, the old man pulled out his cell phone and checked the 2022 events tracker app. He shook his head in disgust. People all over the world were drinking and acting crazily because the old year was ending and the new year beginning in just one hour.
The office door next to the receptionist desk opened. A young, rosy-cheeked lad skipped across the room to stand in front of the old man. The youngster exclaimed, “Hiya gramps! I’m taking over in one hour!”
The old man nodded and answered slowly, “Yup. I wish you all the luck in the world. You will need it.” Adjusting the 2022 events tracker app to the year 2023, the old man handed the cell phone to the young boy and advised, “You’re going to need this.”
Glancing at the screen, the newbie complained, “It’s not working. There’s no picture.”
The old man quietly explained, “Be patient. As soon as the clock strikes midnight, it will have a picture. It isn’t 2023 yet.”
The receptionist advised, “Mister 2022, you can enter Saint Peter’s office now.”
Saint Peter met Mister 2022 at the door with a warm hug as he helped him to a plush, comfortable chair next to an ornate desk. Handing the old man a silver loving cup filled with steaming mulled wine, Saint Peter explained, “This will help you relax after the strain of the past twelve months.”
Settling into his chair at the desk, Saint Peter immediately got to work by asking, “What did you think of the people you worked with during the year?”
Taking a deep draw from the mulled wine, Mister 2022 dried his wine-dampened mustache before answering, “So many were mean and intent on fighting wars, but just as many were loving and kind. I’ve discovered that while both meanness and kindness are contagious, mean people often wear emotional haze-mat suits around kind people.”
Saint Peter murmured, “Yes, that’s so true. We see that from heaven all the time. Are you content to leave your position, or are you wishing to stay in power?”
Selecting a Christmas cookie from a bowl on Saint Peter’s desk, Mister 2022 made a sound of disgust and grumbled, “A person would have to be crazy to want to stay when a term in the office is clearly over.”
“What 2022 achievement made you the proudest?” inquired Saint Peter.
Mister 2022 smiled as he responded, “That’s easy to answer. The James Webb space telescope was launched last year, on December 25, 2021, but during all of my twelve months that infrared observatory has opened the wonders of God’s creation to all mankind!”
Leaning forward, Saint Peter exclaimed, “That is a great thing! The Hubble telescope peered deeply into space, but the Webb telescope has a much larger mirror. It can peer further back in time.”
Just then the great grandfather’s clock in Saint Peter’s office began to strike midnight. There were six deep, reverberating bongs before the ruddy-cheeked lad from the waiting room burst into Saint Peter’s office. He excitedly exclaimed, “Is it finally time for me, now?”
Mister 2022 handed his scythe to the boy, with words of encouragement, “Yes, now it’s finally time for you to takeover. Go get’em! I’ll see you next year in heaven’s library of history.”