3June 2012

posted 31 May 2012, 05:04 by C S Paul   [ updated 1 Jun 2012, 04:17 ]

3June 2012

Something for Stevie

Author Unknown

 "Something For Stevie"

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 Down 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 "truckstop germ;" the pairs of white shirted business men on expense accounts who think every truckstop 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 truckstop 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 convincing 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 the dishes and glasses onto 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 truckstop. Their social worker, which stopped to check on him every so often, admitted they had fallen between the cracks. Money was tight, and what I paid him was the 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 Down syndrome often had heart problems at a 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, my 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 the 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 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 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, 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 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.


by Lew Wallace

Part Three

In Italy, Greek pirate-ships have been looting Roman vessels in the Aegean Sea. The prefect Sejanus orders the Roman Quintus Arrius to take warships to combat the pirates. 

Judah is a galley slave rowing chained on one of the Roman warships. He had survived three hard years, fueled by his passion for vengeance. Arrius is impressed by Judah and finds out more about his life and his story. 

The ship is attacked by pirates and the ship is sunk. Judah uses a plank as a raft. Arrius surfaces besides him and the two of them hold on until a Roman ship appears and rescues them. They return to Misenum and Judah is adopted by the influential Arrius, becoming a Roman citizen.

Part three - Chapter 1 continued

Arrius gave little heed to the reading. As the ship drew more plainly 
ut of the perspective, she became more and more an attraction to him. 
The look with which he watched her was that of an enthusiast. At length 
he tossed the loosened folds of his toga in the air; in reply to 
the signal, over the aplustre, or fan-like fixture at the stern 
of the vessel, a scarlet flag was displayed; while several sailors 
appeared upon the bulwarks, and swung themselves hand over hand up 
the ropes to the antenna, or yard, and furled the sail. The bow was 
put round, and the time of the oars increased one half; so that at 
racing speed she bore down directly towards him and his friends.

He observed the manoeuvring with a perceptible brightening of the 
eyes. Her instant answer to the rudder, and the steadiness with 
which she kept her course, were especially noticeable as virtues 
to be relied upon in action.

"By the Nymphae!" said one of the friends, giving back the roll, 
"we may not longer say our friend will be great; he is already great. 
Our love will now have famous things to feed upon. What more hast thou 
for us?"

"Nothing more," Arrius replied. "What ye have of the affair is 
by this time old news in Rome, especially between the palace and 
the Forum. The duumvir is discreet; what I am to do, where go to 
find my fleet, he will tell on the ship, where a sealed package 
is waiting me. If, however, ye have offerings for any of the 
altars to-day, pray the gods for a friend plying oar and sail
somewhere in the direction of Sicily. But she is here, and will 
come to," he said, reverting to the vessel. "I have interest in 
her masters; they will sail and fight with me. It is not an easy
thing to lay ship side on a shore like this; so let us judge their 
training and skill."

"What, is she new to thee?"

"I never saw her before; and, as yet, I know not if she will bring 
me one acquaintance."

"Is that well?"

"It matters but little. We of the sea come to know each other 
quickly; our loves, like our hates, are born of sudden dangers."

The vessel was of the class called naves liburnicae--long, narrow, 
low in the water, and modelled for speed and quick manoeuvre. The bow 
was beautiful. A jet of water spun from its foot as she came on, 
sprinkling all the prow, which rose in graceful curvature twice 
a man's stature above the plane of the deck. 

Upon the bending of 
the sides were figures of Triton blowing shells. Below the bow, 
fixed to the keel, and projecting forward under the water-line, 
was the rostrum, or beak, a device of solid wood, reinforced and 
armed with iron, in action used as a ram. A stout molding extended 
from the bow the full length of the ship's sides, defining the 
bulwarks, which were tastefully crenelated; below the molding, 
in three rows, each covered with a cap or shield of bull-hide, 
were the holes in which the oars were worked--sixty on the right, 
sixty on the left. In further ornamentation, caducei leaned against 
the lofty prow. Two immense ropes passing across the bow marked the 
number of anchors stowed on the foredeck.

The simplicity of the upper works declared the oars the chief 
dependence of the crew. A mast, set a little forward of midship, 
was held by fore and back stays and shrouds fixed to rings on the 
inner side of the bulwarks. The tackle was that required for the 
management of one great square sail and the yard to which it was 
hung. Above the bulwarks the deck was visible.

Save the sailors who had reefed the sail, and yet lingered on the 
yard, but one man was to be seen by the party on the mole, and he 
stood by the prow helmeted and with a shield.

(to be continued)

Who Packed Your Parachute?

Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. We mayfail to say hello, please, or thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful     that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason. 

Charles Plumb, a US Naval Academy graduate, was a jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat
missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and
parachuted into enemy lands. 

He was captured and spent 6 years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the or   deal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience. One day, when Plumb and    his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, "You're   Plumb! You   flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were      shot down!" 

"How in the world did you know that?" asked Plumb. "I packed your parachute," the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, "I    guess it worked!" Plumb assured him, "It sure did. If your chute hadn't worked, I wouldn't     be here today."

Plumb couldn't sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, "I kept wondering    what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform: A white hat, a bib in the back, and bell bottom trousers.I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said good morning,  how are you or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot, and he was just       a sailor."

Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent on a long wooden table in the bowels    
of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn't know.

Now, Plumb asks his audience, "Who's packing your parachute?"

Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. Plumb also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory - he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his
emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute. 

He called on all these supports before reaching safety. His experience reminds us all to prepare ourselves to weather whatever storms lie ahead. As you go through this week, this month, this year... recognize people who pack your parachute!

Just for Laughs

A sweet grandmother telephoned Mount Sinai Hospital.  She timidly asked, "Is it possible to speak to someone who can tell me how a patient is doing?"  

The operator said, "I'll be glad to help, Dear.  What's the name and room number?"

The grandmother in her weak tremulous voice said, "Holly Finkel, room 302.

The Operator replied, "Let me check.  Oh, good news.  Her record says that Holly is doing very well.  Her blood pressure is fine; her blood work just came back as normal and her physician, Dr. Cohen, has scheduled her to be discharged Tuesday."

 The Grandmother said, "Thank you.  That's wonderful!  I was so worried!  God bless you for the good news."

 The operator replied, "You're more than welcome.  Is Holly your daughter?"

 The Grandmother said, "No, I'm Holly Finkel in 302.  No one tells me squat."

Power of Positive Thinking

 by Norman Vincent Peale

Chapter 6 (continued)

A prominent citizen of New York told me that his doctor 
suggested that he come to our clinic at the church "because," 
said his physician, "you need to develop a calm philosophy 
of living. Your power resources are played out."

"My doctor says I am pushing myself to the limit. He tells 
me I'm too tense, too high-strung, that I fume and fret too 
much, and," he concluded, "my doctor declares the only sure 
cure is for to develop what he calls a calm philosophy of 

My visitor arose and paced the floor, then demanded, "But 
how in the world can I do that? It's a lot easier said than 

Then this excited gentleman went on to say that his doctor 
had given him certain suggestions for developing this calm 
philosophy of living. The suggestions as outlined were 
indeed wise. "But then," he explained, "the doctor suggested 
that I see you people here at the church, for he feels that if I 
learn to use religious faith in a practical manner it will give 
me peace of mind and bring down my blood pressure. Then I 
will feel better physically. 

While I realize the doctor's
prescription is sensible," he complained, "how can a man 
fifty years old, of a high-strung nature such as mine, 
suddenly change the habits of a lifetime and develop this so- 
called calm philosophy of living?"

That did indeed seem to be a problem, for he was a bundle of 
excitable and explosive nerves. He paced the floor, he 
thumped the table, his voice was high-pitched, He gave the 
impression of a thoroughly disturbed and baffled man.

Obviously he was showing up at his worst, but he was 
clearly revealing the inner state of his personality, and the 
insight thus gained gave us a chance to help him through
understanding him better.

As I listened to his words and observed his attitude, I again 
understood why Jesus Christ retains his remarkable hold on 
men. It is because He has the answer to such problems as
this, and I proved that fact by suddenly changing the line of 
the conversation. 

Without any introductory words I began to 
recite certain Bible texts such as, "Come unto me, all ye that 
labor and the heavy laden, and I will give you 
rest." (Matthew 11:28) And again, "Peace I leave with you, 
my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I 
unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be 
afraid." (John 14:27) And still again, "Thou wilt keep him in 
perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee." (Isaiah 26:3)

I recited these words slowly, deliberately, reflectively. As 
this reciting went on, I noticed that my visitor stopped being 
agitated. Quietness came over him and then we both sat in 
silence. It seemed that we sat so for several minutes. Perhaps 
it wasn't that long, but finally he took a deep breath.

"Why, that's funny," he said. "I feel a lot better. Isn't that 
queer? I guess it was those words that did it."

"No, not the words alone," I answered, "though they do have 
a remarkable effect upon the mind, but something deeper 
happened just then. He touched you a minute ago—the
Physician with the healing touch. He was present in this 

My visitor evidenced no surprise at this assertion, but eagerly 
and impetuously agreed—and conviction was written on his 
face. "That's right, He sure was. I felt Him. I see what you
mean. Now I understand—Jesus Christ will help me develop 
a calm philosophy of living."

This man found what increasing thousands are presently 
discovering, that a simple faith in and practice of the 
principles and techniques of Christianity bring peace and 
quietness and therefore new power to body, mind, and spirit.

It is the perfect antidote to fuming and to fretting. It helps a 
person to become peaceful and thus to tap new resources of 

Of course it was necessary to teach this man a new pattern of 
thinking and acting. This was done in part by suggesting 
literature written by experts in the field of spiritual culture.

For example, we gave him lessons in the skill of church 
going. We showed him how to make church worship a 
therapy. He was instructed in the scientific use of prayer and 
relaxation. And as a result of this practice eventually he 
became a healthy man. Anyone willing to follow this 
program and sincerely put these principles into day-by-day 
practice can, I believe, develop inner peace and power. Many 
of these techniques are outlined in this book.

Did you know ?

  • The length from your wrist to your elbow is the same as the length of your foot.
  • Your heart beats 101,000 times a day. During your lifetime it will beat about 3 billion times and pump about 400 million litres (800 million pints) of blood.
  • It is impossible to lick your elbow. Well, for almost everyone… but a few can.
  • Your mouth produces 1 litre (1.8 pints) of saliva a day.
  • The human head contains 22 bones. More on the head and brains
  • On average, you breathe 23,000 times a day.
  • Breathing generates about 0.6g of CO2 every minute.
  • On average, people can hold their breath for about one minute. The world record is 21 minutes 29 seconds. 

  • 160 billion emails are sent daily, 97% of which are spam.
  • Spam generates 33bn KWt-hours of energy every year, enough to power 2.4 million homes, producing 17 million tons of CO2.