U n i t 1 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. Stevie was short, a little dumpy, with the smooth facial features and thick-tongued speech of Down’s syndrome.
I wasn’t worried about most of my trucker customers. Truckers don’t generally care who buses tables as long as the food is good and the pies are homemade. The ones who concerned me were 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;”and the pairs of white-shirted businessmen 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 little finger. Within a month my trucker regulars had adopted him as their official truck-stop mascot. After that I really didn’t care what the rest of the customers thought.
He was 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 hurry to the empty table and carefully bus the dishes and glasses onto the cart and meticulously wipe the table with a practiced flourish of his rag. If he thought a customer was watching, his brows 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 Down’s syndrome often have heart problems
at an early age, so this wasn’t unexpected. 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 whoop 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.
9 He grinned. “OK, Frannie, what was that all about?” he asked.
10 “We just got word that Stevie is out of surgery and going to be okay.”she responded.
“I was wondering where he was,” said Belle. “I had a new joke to tell him. What was the surgery about?”
12 Frannie quickly told him and the other two drivers sitting at his booth about Stevie’s surgery, then sighed. “Yeah, I’m glad he is going to be okay,” 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.
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. “That table where Belle Ringer and his friends were sitting,”
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 also asked me what that dance 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.”
15 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. We 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 two 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 covered with a mess of coffee cups, saucers and dinner plates, all sitting crooked on dozens of folded paper napkins. “First thing you have to do, Stevie, is to clean up this mess,” I said, trying to sound stern. Stevie looked at me, and then at his mother, then pulled out one of the napkins. It had “Something for Stevie” written on the outside. As he picked it up, two $10 bills fell onto the table. Stevie stared at the money, then at dozens of napkins peeking from beneath the tableware, each with his name printed or scrawled on it.
I turned to his mother. “There’s over $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 shouting, and there were a few tears, too. 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 — the best worker I ever hired.
3 我的担心是多余的。第一周过后，史蒂维就抓住了我每位员工的心。不足一个月，我的老顾客 ? 那些卡车司机们 ? 就正式认定史蒂维为卡车司机休息站的吉祥人物。自此以后，我不再介意其他顾客的看法了。
How Deep Is Your Love?
Love to some is like a cloud
To some as strong as steel
For some a way of living
For some a way to feel
And some say love is holding on
And some say let it go
And some say love is everything
Some say they don't know
At some stage or the other in our lives we experience an emotion which
defies definition. It's a feeling that can only be felt and not described. An overwhelming joy that comes together with its share of sadness. Love.
Given the busy nature of our lives, it's to be appreciated that we even find the time to indulge in matters of the heart. But at the same time I wonder if we even understand its true depth. I remember having countless crushes while in school. My math teacher, our neighbour's son, my best friend's brother and lots of others whom I fancied for the colour of their eyes, the shape of their moustaches or just the way they walked. Harmless puppy loves that are as brief as soap bubbles. I can laugh about all those silly and adventurous thoughts and acts now but at that time nothing could be more serious an affair for me. Then came the stage of real relationships.
Being in an all girls' school I hardly had the opportunity to interact with members of the opposite gender. Socials between our school and the boys' college, therefore, would be awaited anxiously. Those three hours of
unhesitant attention by a group of well-groomed young gentlemen provided us with enough content to talk and feel excited about for the next four weeks.
And even then there was no real need of having a boyfriend.
I somehow grew up believing that love would happen when it had to. And sure enough it did. It came at an age when I had a career, a long-term plan and a more or less settled life (and now I am not yet 25!). I was mature enough to enter a relationship which demands a lot of give and not so much of take.
Love was a magnificent building I built on the foundation of friendship. It took time to blossom. It took a lot of understanding, loads of sharing and caring, and plenty of affection to become what it is today. And it meant a meeting of minds. You might say that I belong to the traditional school of romance. But in my opinion, love needs to be nurtured. And it has to be distinguished from the intense but short-lived love or the pleasures of the
Our parents' generation was fed lavishly with ideals. It was an era of constraints, restraints, respect, admiration, and plenty of romance. The long skirts, the quiet and unpretentious looks, the curled long hair, the calmness, the shy glance 钬?these are all so frequently remindful of a bygone era. An age when the distance between the sexes somehow managed to help preserve the holiness of love and relationships.
The younger generation, with its openness and fading lines of proximity, has jumped on the bandwagon of love with so much haste that it is difficult for them to distinguish between physical attraction and mental compatibilities. What we have been exposed to via the media have fast paced our sensibilities so much that taking things slow requires effort on our parts.
I am sorry to learn about the kind of emotional baggage school kids are carrying in what are purely unemotional relationships. Some might blame the current state of affairs on peer pressure. But has anyone ever stopped to figure out where this peer pressure originates? Do any of us try and understand who is responsible for this shift? Does anyone bother to study the state of mind of the teenagers?
The mindset of this generation is all too evident in the way it handles its personal life. There are more relationships being distorted under the pressures of lust than ever before. There is more focus on physical beauty than on inner charm. There is more of closeness and less of intimacy. There is more of passion and less of emotion. There is more of acquiring and less of sharing. There is more of opportunism and less of selflessness. In short, there is more of ME and less of US.
We have hardened ourselves so much in this competitive age that we have forgotten the essence of relationships. There's much more to being someone's lover than gifting them red roses and fifty-cent cards. What about gifting our object of affection, our time, our company, our support, our friendship? What about setting priorities in our lives and focusing on each with sincerity? What about trying to be self-sufficient emotionally before letting ourselves loose? What about giving ourselves, and others, time and space to forge relationships? What about working towards meaningful and lasting friendships? What about honouring our commitments? What about channeling our energies and emotions towards building lifelong bonds rather than wasting them on seasonal relationships?
We have but one life and we must experience everything that can make us stronger. True love happens once in a lifetime. And we should not have become so tired by our frivolous acts that when it comes we aren't able to
receive it with open arms.
What Is Friendship?
When we approach the notion of friendship, our first problem is that there is a lack of socially acknowledged criteria for what makes a person a friend. In one setting, we may describe someone as a friend; in another, the label may seem less appropriate. Therefore, people tend to have a very thin understanding of what friendship really means. To help us understand what friendship really means, we need to review some classical views of friendship.
One classical view of friendship is provided by Aristotle, the famous ancient Greek philosopher. Aristotle distinguishes between what he believes to be genuine friendships and two other forms: one based on mutual usefulness, the other on pleasure. So, according to Aristotle, we may find three kinds of friendship:
Friendship based on utility. Utility is an impermanent thing: it changes according to circumstances. When the ground for friendship disappears, the friendship also breaks up. Friendships of this kind seem to occur most frequently between the elderly, because at their age what they want is not pleasure but utility. Friendships based on utility are also frequently found
among those in middle or early life who are pursuing their own advantage. Such persons do not spend much time together, because sometimes they do not even like one another, and therefore feel no need of such an association unless they are mutually useful. They take pleasure in each other’s company only in so far as they have hopes of advantage from it.
Friendship based on pleasure. Friendship between the young is thought to be grounded on pleasure, because the lives of the young are regulated by their feelings, and their chief interests are in their own pleasure and the opportunity of the moment. As they grow up, however, their tastes change too, so that they are quick to make and to break friendships. That is why they fall in and out of friendship quickly, changing their attitude often, even within the same day.
Friendship based on goodness. Perfect friendship is based on goodness. Only the friendship of those who are good, and similar in their goodness, is perfect. The conduct of good men is the same or similar. It is between good men that both love and friendship are chiefly found and in the highest form. Such for as the saying goes, true friends must go through trials and tribulations together. And no two persons can accept each other and become friends until each has proved to the other that he is worthy of love, and so won his trust. The wish for friendship may develop rapidly, but true friendship does not.
Another classical view of friendship can be found in the writings of Cicero, an ancient Roman statesman and orator. According to Cicero, true
friendship is only possible between good men. He further defines “the good” as “those whose actions and lives leave no question as to their honor, purity, equity, and liberality; who are free from greed, lust, and violence; and who have the courage of their convictions.” The friendship between good men, based on virtue, does offer material benefits, but it does not seek them. All human beings are bonded together in a community of shared reason. Therefore, in friendships and relationships, those who possess any superiority must regard themselves as equals of those who are less fortunate. It is virtue that creates and preserves true friendship.
Thus, we may see that the traditional idea of friendship is made up of three components: Friends must enjoy each other’s company; they must be useful to one another; and they must share a commitment to the good. According to the classical views, virtuous friends are bound together, as the recognize each other’s moral
excellence. ?To?perceive?a?friend,?therefore,?is?to?perceive?oneself;?a nd?to?know?a?friend?is?to?know?oneself.?Each?can?be?said?to?provide?a?m irror?in?which?the?other?may?see?himself.?Through?networks?of?such?virt uous?friends,?we?can?develop?a?shared?idea?of?good?and?pursue?it?togeth er.?Friendship?of?this?kind?is?necessarily involves conversations about well-being and of what might be involved in living the good life.
My Greatest Olympic Prize
It was the summer of 1936. The Olympic Games were being held in Berlin. Because Adolf Hitler childishly insisted that his performers were members of a "master race," nationalistic feelings were at an all-time high.
 I wasn't too worried about all this. I'd trained, sweated and disciplined myself for six years, with the Games in mind. While I was going over on the boat, all I could think about was taking home one or two of those gold medals. I had my eyes especially on the running broad jump. A year before,