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I just like this one.
« on: November 08, 2007, 11:49:07 PM »

The 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 wanted one. I wasn't sure how my customers would react to
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 hi m 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 car t 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
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 ..:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />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
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, and 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
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 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.
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 a good one!

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." - Mother Teresa
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