"In the beginning"

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this blog are not necessarily the views of the blog management, (on the other hand, they are not necessarily not the views of the blog management).

No effort has been made to stay within the bounds of the truth in this blog as it has always been the view of the management that the truth should never be allowed to stand in the way of a good story.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Folded Napkin.

I promised June that I would post a picture of my John Deere tractor.
well here it is june, just love that green machine.
















Well folks now I’ve got some good news and some bad news;

The bad news is; I’ve found another tear jerker.

The good news is; I’ve bought a parcel of shares in Kleenex,
so let those sobs and tears go folks.

(Aw c'mon be fair folks, I haven't posted a tear jerker for months.)


The Folded Napkin ..

A Truckers Story (If this doesn't light your fire, your wood is wet!!!)

I try not to be biased, but I had my doubts about hiring Stevie. His
placement counselor assured me that he would be a good, reliable busboy.

But I had never had a mentally handicapped employee and wasn't sure I
wanted one. I wasn't sure how my customers would react to Stevie.

He was short, a little dumpy with the smooth facial features and
thick-tongued speech of Downs Syndrome. I wasn't worried about most
of my trucker customers because truckers don't generally care who buses
tables as long as the meatloaf platter is good and the pies are homemade.

The four-wheeler drivers were the ones who concerned me; the mouthy
college kids traveling to school; the yuppie snobs who secretly polish their
silverware with their napkins for fear of catching some dreaded "truck stop
germ" the pairs of white-shirted business men on expense accounts who
think every truck stop waitress wants to be flirted with. I knew those
people would be uncomfortable around Stevie so I closely watched him for
the first few weeks.

I shouldn't have worried. After the first week, Stevie had my staff wrapped
around his stubby little finger, and within a month my truck regulars had
adopted him as their official truck stop mascot.

After that, I really didn't care what the rest of the customers thought of
him. He was like a 21-year-old in blue jeans and Nikes, eager to laugh and
eager to please, but fierce in his attention to his duties. Every salt and
pepper shaker was exactly in its place, not a bread crumb or coffee spill
was visible when Stevie got done with the table.

Our only problem was persuading him to wait to clean a table until after
the customers were finished. He would hover in the background, shifting
his weight from one foot to the other, scanning the dining room until a table
was empty.

Then he would scurry to the empty table and carefully bus dishes and
glasses onto his cart and meticulously wipe the table up with a practiced
flourish of his rag.

If he thought a customer was watching, his brow would pucker with added
concentration. He took pride in doing his job exactly right, and you had to
love how hard he tried to please each and every person he met.

Over time, we learned that he lived with his mother, a widow who was
disabled after repeated surgeries for cancer. They lived on their Social
Security benefits in public housing two miles from the truck stop. Their
social worker, who stopped to check on him every so often, admitted they
had fallen between the cracks.

Money was tight, and what I paid him was probably the difference
between them being able to live together and Stevie being sent to a group
home.

That's why the restaurant was a gloomy place that morning last August,
the first morning in three years that Stevie missed work.

He was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester getting a new valve or something
put in his heart. His social worker said that people with Downs Syndrome
often have heart problems at an early age so this wasn't unexpected, and
there was a good chance he would come through the surgery in good shape
and be back at work in a few months.

A ripple of excitement ran through the staff later that morning when word
came that he was out of surgery, in recovery, and doing fine.

Frannie, the head waitress, let out a war hoop and did a little dance in the
aisle when she heard the good news.

Belle Ringer, one of our regular trucker customers, stared at the sight of
this 50-year-old grandmother of four doing a victory shimmy beside his
table, Frannie blushed, smoothed her apron and shot Belle Ringer a
withering look.

He grinned. "OK, Frannie, what was that all about?" he asked.

"We just got word that Stevie is out of surgery and going to be okay."

"I was wondering where he was. I had a new joke to tell him. What was
the surgery about?"

Frannie quickly told Belle Ringer and the other two drivers sitting at his
booth about Stevie's surgery, then sighed: "Yeah, I'm glad he is going to
be OK," she said. "But I don't know how he and his Mom are going to
handle all the bills. From what I hear, they're barely getting by as it is."

Belle Ringer nodded thoughtfully, and Frannie hurried off to wait on the
rest of her tables. Since I hadn't had time to round up a busboy to replace
Stevie and really didn't want to replace him, the girls were busing their
own tables that day until we decided what to do.

After the morning rush, Frannie walked into my office. She had a couple of
paper napkins in her hand and a funny look on her face.

"What's up?" I asked.

"I didn't get that table where Belle Ringer and his friends were sitting
cleared off after they left, and Pony Pete and Tony Tipper were sitting
there when I got back to clean it off," she said. "This was folded and
tucked under a coffee cup."

She handed the napkin to me, and three $20 bills fell onto my desk when I
opened it. On the outside, in big, bold letters, was printed
"Something For Stevie".

"Pony Pete asked me what that was all about," she said, "so I told him about
Stevie and his Mom and everything, and Pete looked at Tony and Tony looked
at Pete, and they ended up giving me this." She handed me another paper
napkin that had "Something For Stevie" scrawled on its outside. Two $50
bills were tucked within its folds. Frannie looked at me with wet, shiny
eyes, shook her head and said simply: "truckers."

That was three months ago. Today is Thanksgiving, the first day Stevie is
supposed to be back to work.

His placement worker said he's been counting the days until the doctor said
he could work, and it didn't matter at all that it was a holiday. He called
10 times in the past week, making sure we knew he was coming, fearful that
we had forgotten him or that his job was in jeopardy. I arranged to have
his mother bring him to work. I then met them in the parking lot and
invited them both to celebrate his first day back.

Stevie was thinner and paler, but couldn't stop grinning as he pushed
through the doors and headed for the back room where his apron and busing
cart were waiting.

"Hold up there, Stevie, not so fast," I said. I took him and his mother by
their arms. "Work can wait for a minute. To celebrate you coming back,
breakfast for you and your mother is on me!" I led them toward a large
corner booth at the rear of the room.

I could feel and hear the rest of the staff following behind as we marched
through the dining room. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw booth after booth
of grinning truckers empty and join the procession. We stopped in front of the
big table. Its surface was covered with coffee cups, saucers and dinner plates,
all sitting slightly crooked on dozens of folded paper napkins. First thing you
have to do, Stevie, is clean up this mess," I said. I tried to sound stern.

Stevie looked at me, and then at his mother, then pulled out one of the
napkins. It had "Something for Stevie" printed on the outside. As he
picked it up, two $10 bills fell onto the table.

Stevie stared at the money, then at all the napkins peeking from beneath
the tableware, each with his name printed or scrawled on it. I turned to his
mother. "There's more than $10,000 in cash and checks on that table, all
from truckers and trucking companies that heard about your problems.

"Happy Thanksgiving,".

Well, it got real noisy about that time, with everybody hollering and
shouting, and there were a few tears, as well.

But you know what's funny? While everybody else was busy shaking hands
and hugging each other, Stevie, with a big, big smile on his face, was busy
clearing all the cups and dishes from the table.

Best worker I ever hired.


If you shed a tear, hug yourself, because you are a compassionate person.



Oh, by the way, I got the photos a little mixed up before, the first one lives at
"Fosters Farm" the one below is mine, it's just a little down-sized.


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13 comments:

JunieRose2005 said...

Peter,

I LOVED that Stevie story!
Thanks for posting it!

June

Mari said...

Peter,
Yes, there were tears at the end of that story.
I love the photo of you on that John Deere. Sure do look good - both you and the the tractor!

Ms. Vickie said...

Peter, I read this Stevie story but it was a long time ago.
I am so glad you shared it again. It is a great one and
something that will remind us all that yes there is good people
out there and I think the truckers are among some of the best.

Meow said...

Thanks for sharing that story, Peter. Even though I had read it before, a long while ago, it still brought a tear to my eye. People can be so amazing, can't they.
I love your tractor ... too cute !!
Have a great day, take care, Meow

Merle said...

Hi Peter ~~ Another great story, so send
some tissues quick smart.
I have said before, we hear all the bad news but not all the good. There should be more stories like this,
You had me puzzled with "your" tractor
until I reached the end of the post.
Cheers, Merle.

Jamie Dawn said...

Thanks for ending that with a "happy" photo.

It's okay to smile and cry... right?

Boobabe said...

You stinker....I was totally amazed at the size of your tractor and even more amazed at the story. Pass the kleenex.

BTW....you look adorable on "your" John Deere

kenju said...

I have read that story before, Peter, but it is inspirational. I thought that firwst tractor was awfully big - unless you run a commercial farm...LOL

Theresa said...

Wonderful story Peter! Love your tractor!

Jacqui said...

Great story, funny how we both posted the same sort of story.

Thanks for the info about vetting the comments, I haven't any spam so far, but guess it will happen. How do you go about setting up the process.

I wondered about the JD too, it looked familiar, I wonder why.

Tan Lucy Pez said...

Wonderful story!

LOL on the John Deere "mistake." I'm lovin' it.

JunieRose2005 said...

:)

Peter,
Thanks for posting the John Deere tractors- both Large and Small! :) Nothing prettier than that John Deere green ans yellow.

That one a tFoster's Farms is quite impressive!

...but - so is your little one!! :)

Thanks,

June

lyle said...

That is a very lovely story. I am so glad to be of sersvice to you Peter, you certainly pick the goodies. So don't complain about my emails!