The Tin Man, After Oz
Having helped expose the Wizard of Oz as a benevolent fraud, and learning in the process that he truly did possess a heart after all, the Tin Man hugged his friends goodbye and set off for new adventures.
The lion gave him some courage; the scarecrow gifted him with a portion of intelligence, and Dorothy--already returned to the other world--had given him a huge share of optimism. The Tin Man in turn gave away a good deal of his heart. The mutual bartering, then, a throwback concept to the world before the wickedness had tainted it, was beneficial to all and enhanced the wonderful sense of community.
Tin Man got a temporary job at the local diner, washing dishes at a minimum wage.
He immediately liked his boss and fellow workers. They seemed like such well-rounded people. His good-natured ways, easy grin, and compassionate heart soon won them over. He quickly made it known, not by words but loud and clear through his actions, that he was very accepting and devoid of prejudice. He didn't care if someoone was red, brown, yellow--or even green or blue. He had such a joy and a carefree, open outlook on life. He loved everyone, and even in just a short while, it seemed that everyone loved him, too.
Leaving the Diner
So when he had earned enough money after a couple of weeks to afford a train ticket to parts as yet unknown to him, he announced to his friends that he was leaving. You can imagine how surprised and disappointed they all were, but they could also see just how determined he was to start a new life... to find his purpose, as he had often reminded them.
With a heavy heart, something akin to what he'd felt when he'd said goodbye to Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Lion, Tin Man bid his friends a fond adieu. They promised him they'd make it a point to see him again someday, and he sincerely appreciated and warmed at the though of that.
He quickly packed his bags and headed on over to the train station.
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The Train Ride
He'd never been on a train before. In fact, traveling cross-country was an entirely new concept to him. All he'd known for much of his before-he-discovered-he-actually-had-a-heart life was the humdrum existence of hanging around a research and development laboratory as a 3-D poster model for ALCOOZ (Aluminum Company of Oz).
...He was actually blending in. As the newly discovered lifeblood coursed through his newly awakened cardiovascular system, he was actually losing his metallic rigidity. In fact, he was actually transitioning from a tinny pallor to a complexion filled with fleshy pixels.
What a wonder! he thought.
Checking his ticket three or four times, he boarded the train and methodically made his way through the various cars of the coal-driven behemoth.
There were so many passengers! What an amazing array of people! And what gorgeous outfits they wore!
Soon enough, he found his assigned seat. Settling into the well-cushioned velour, he fell into a deep sleep.
The iron horse rumbled, shook, and thundered. But Tin Man was oblivious to it all. He was truly dead to the world.
The night passed without incident.
About 6:30 the next morning, someone tapped him on his shoulder.
"Excuse me, sir, the voice purred. "I'm PIB. The Prince and Princess would like the pleasure of your company at breakfast this morning. Kindly accompany me to the dining car."
Tin Man had grown accustomed to having had real meals at the diner, and he truly was famished. How kind of this stranger to invite him to breakfast. And with royalty, no less! He was deeply grateful for his new life and for all the wonderful adventures he was was experiencing. What a joy to have a heart! he silently sang.
But this stranger...vaguely familiar...had such a bearing about him. He simply exuded confidence. As for the familiarity...and then it suddenly dawned on Tin Man that this stranger...what had he called himself?...PIB?...actually reminded him of his old friend, the Lion.
PIB Reveals His Full Name
As they made their way through the various passenger coaches, Tin Man found an opportunity to make the inquiry.
"Pardon me, sir, how did you come by such a unique name?"
"PIB is actually a nickname. An acronym."
"Oh? What do the letters stand for?"
"In some circles, I'm known as Puss-in-Boots."
Still new at reading people, Tin Man could yet sense that the issue of the name was a sensitive topic to the gallant feline. Empathetically, he offered, "I like PIB just fine, sir! It just rolls off my tongue."
The cat actually smiled.
Abruptly, PIB put his well-muscled paw in front of Tin Man, a cue to stop. Under his breath, he said, "Bow when I make the announcement." Tin Man quickly nodded.
"Your Royal Highnesses...the Tin Man of Oz!"
The Prince and Princess graciously smiled at the somewhat trembling Tin Man.
Dumbstruck at their physical beauty and aura of grandeur, and with the help of a carefully placed tap at the back of his head from the well-meaning Puss-in-Boots, Tin Man finally muttered, "Good morning, Your M-M-Majesties!"
The Prince and Princess
"Good morning, kind sir, and thank you for joining us for breakfast. What is your pleasure?" the Prince inquired. The Princess illuminated the room when she graced Tin Man with a sunrise of a smile.
As nervous and awestruck as he was, the Tin Man was able to place his order with the dining car waiter.
In the midst of blueberry crepes and a huge vegetarian hash, the Prince and Princess and Tin Man carried on a wonderful conversation. The Royal Couple wanted to know all about the land of Oz. In turn, they discussed how they were celebrating their first anniversary. They were headed for parts unknown as well, and with the theme of spontaneity being the common denominator, the conversation easily flowed.
All the while, PIB stood at vigilant attention, his eyes carefully seeing everything, his ears twitching at any sound unrelated to the incessant rumbling of the huge locomotive.
There were a couple of times when Tin Man blushed and looked away. Why? Because the young couple truly were in love and clearly enjoying the beauty of the moment.
They kissed once...
Romantic Interlude--Time to Leave
...and then they kissed again...
After a while, Tin Man rose, bowed to the Royal Lovebirds, and thanked them for a most wonderful time.
He firmly shook hands with PIB and thanked him as well.
Soon, he was back in his room, happily thanking his lucky stars for the Royal Encounter. He watched the scenery passing by, mesmerized by the beauty of the world he was seeing--and experiencing--for the very first time.
The train passed a large meadow, peppered here and there with shrubbery. He saw bright, vibrant colors--oh, the flowers were abundant and gorgeous! He saw an occasional hummingbird and butterfly,
The train negotiated a large bend, and Tin Man reveled in the centrifugal pull. His new heart actually fluttered with the strange and novel sensation.
Soon, they passed a large ranch. Almost as if on cue, the train slowed, the engineer well aware that stray farm animals sometimes gingerly crossed the tracks. The reduction in speed enabled Tin Man to see a trio of cats relaxing in the shade of the large farmhouse porch.
Robin in the Blackberries
A mile down the track, Tin Man saw young children picking blackberries. As the train passed, the children jumped up and down, smiling and waving gleefully at the passengers watching from the large windows of the coaches. Tin Man chuckled and waved back.
The blackberry bushes, Tin Man observed, grew wild, forming a natural hedge between the train tracks and the verdant grassland. Every now and then, the bushes appeared to come alive and move. Tin Man soon realized he was seeing the occasional robin gathering berries and grubs for her babies.
Tin Man saw his reflection in the coach window. He was shocked to see just how human he looked.
The physical reflection triggered a reflection within.
Each wanderer through Oz had experienced an epiphany of one kind or another. Tin Man's self-discovery was that he'd always had a heart and just didn't know it. While he had always possessed an innate kindness, his lack of awareness that he truly had a heart crippled him into a false belief that he was somehow less than , not as good as , and thus never worthy of the gift of LOVE .
With a rush of comprehension, Tin Man finally knew his purpose in life....
We fast-forward five years from the time of Tin Man's epiphany...
Seven days into that fateful train ride, something tugged at Tin Man's heart. At one of the stops, he knew in his heart that he had come to the place he was meant to live for the duration of his life.
There was nothing particularly outstanding or unusual about the town he chose to call his final destination. He just felt it in his heart of hearts. This was the place to take root and germinate.
He worked at odd jobs, scraping together whatever money he could save towards a down payment for a house.
Finally, one day, he sat down and had a heart-to-heart talk with his banker. Twenty minutes later, he walked out of the bank with the biggest smile.
His frugality had been rewarded. But that hadn't been the tide-turning factor. It seems the Board of Directors had concluded that Tin Man's financial situation failed to meet the cutoff point for homeowner's creditworthiness. But there ensued such a discussion about the difference Tin Man's compassionate acts had made in the small town.
Like the time he paid for Widow Jenkins' groceries when she reached into her pocket and found a large hole where ten dollars ought to have been.
Or when he walked five miles in blizzard conditions to bring cough medicine to the young family living in Jasper Hollow.
Or the three dozen tin ships he'd crafted and given to the Toys for Tots collection at the local fire station.
Or how about the time he pulled a mother and baby out of a burning automobile when even the police had given up for fear of an explosion?
Tin Man's heart had truly made a difference in their tiny community
And so it was that the Littleton Community Bank voted unanimously to not only approve a homeowner's loan to Tin Man but to actually donate six months' worth of mortgage payments to the gentle man from Oz.
Coca-Cola heard about the newsworthy event via Twitter and, sensing a marketing opportunity, sent a team of mixed media advertising agents to investigate the story.
The short version of it all was that Tin Man received a brand new home--made entirely out of tin--from the corporate giant.
Former Presidential nominee, Sarah Palin--now with a major television morning talk show--beat Katie Couric to the punch and landed an interview with the shy and reserved Tin Man.
"Mr. Tin Man," she said, "The Alaskan, I mean, the American people have a right to know. Why would you want to live in a tin house?"
He simply replied, "It's who I am...I could never walk away from that."
The interview with Tin Man propelled Sarah Palin to the top of the television polls. Later that year, based on that same interview, Ms. Palin won a daytime Emmy.
The Tin Man Today
What was and continues to be Tin Man's life purpose?
His mission in life is to find castaway tin canisters at yard sales, garage sales, estate sales, and thrift stores. He pays anywhere from twenty-five cents to a dollar for each tin. He then resells them on eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, Etsy, Yardsellr, and from his own back porch.
After expenses, he invests the proceeds in dividend reinvestment plans sponsored by corporations that spin on the production of tin and who give generously to worthy causes.
In conjunction with the DRIP funds, Tin Man developed a trust fund that enables the families of children in need of heart transplants to pay for the costly operation(s).
"I'm a tin man," he once told the President of the United States, "who was given a new lease on life--a brand new heart."
"Who am I to second guess the good Lord? He recycled me. I can certainly recycle these dirty old tins and give them new life...so that they in turn can help all those children get new hearts."
You gotta love a guy like Tin Man...
Just this morning, there was a knock at his door.
When he opened it, he started beaming from ear to ear.
Moral of the Story
A heart transplant is only as successful as the benevolence of its recipient.