Friday, August 28, 2009

EMAIL: Folded Napkin

>>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
>>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
>>long as the meatloaf platter is good and the pies are homemade.
>>The four-wheeler drivers were the ones who concerned me; the mouthy
>>kids traveling to school; the yuppie snobs who secretly polish their
>>silverware with their napkins for fear of catching some dreaded "truck
>>germ" the pairs of white-shirted business men on expense accounts who
>>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
>>few weeks.
>>I shouldn't have worried. After the first week, Stevie had my staff
>>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
>>eager to please, but fierce in his attention to his duties. Every salt
>>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
>>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
>>fallen between the cracks. Money was tight, and what I paid him was
>>probably the difference between them being able to live together and
>>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
>>in his heart. His social worker said that people with Downs Syndrome
>>have heart problems at an early age so this wasn't unexpected, and there
>>a good chance he would come through the surgery in good shape and be back
>>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
>>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
>>Frannie blushed, smoothed her apron and shot Belle Ringer a withering
>>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
>>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
>>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
>>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
>>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
>>"Pony Pete asked me what that was all about," she said, "so I told him
>>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
>>he could work, and it didn't matter at all that it was a holiday. He
>>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 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
>>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
>>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
>>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
>>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.
>>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
>>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.
>>Plant a seed and watch it grow.
>>At this point, you can bury this inspirational message or forward it
>>fulfilling the need!
>>If you shed a tear, hug yourself, because you are a compassionate person.
>>Well.. Don't just sit there! Send this story on! Keep it going, this is
>>good one!
>>As Water Reflects Face, So To A Man's Actions Reflect His Heart

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