Wednesday, April 24, 2013
PONOKA NEWS Page 15
There is a special place in our world for everyone I have always considered myself so fortunate that throughout my active life I have had the great pleasure of rubbing shoulders, working with, playing with and just hanging out with so many fine people, families and great characters from all walks of life, nationalities, and personalities. When I receive a wonderful story with a special message like this one, I realize that there are so many caring people and communities who never hesitate when it comes to reaching out to those who need a little help, kindness, and understanding that comes right from the heart. Something for Stevie, By Dan Anderson The restaurant owner always tried not to be biased but he had his doubts about hiring Stevie, whose placement counselor had assured him that he would be a good, reliable, busboy. Then again, he had never had a mentally handicapped employee and wasn’t really sure that he wanted one, or how his customers would react to Stevie. Stevie was short and a little dumpy, with the smooth facial features and thick-tongued speech of Down’s syndrome. The owner wasn’t worried at all about most of his trucker customers, because truckers don’t generally care who buses the tables as long as the meatloaf platter is good, the pies are homemade, and the coffee is hot. It was those four-wheeler drivers who concerned him, including the mouthy college kids on their way to school, the yuppie snobs who secretly polish their silverware with their napkins for fear of catching some dreaded “truck-stop germ,” or the pairs of white-shirted business men on expense accounts who think that every truck stop waitress wants to be flirted with. He didn’t need to worry at all because after the first week Stevie had everyone who popped in wrapped around his stubby little finger, and within a month, his truck regulars had adopted him as their official truck stop mascot.
From then on the congenial truck stop owner didn’t much care what the rest of the customers thought of him, because he was like a 21-year-old kid in blue jeans and Nikes, eager to laugh and eager to please, Mike Rainone but absolutely fierce Hammertime 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. Little Stevie would hover in the background waiting for a table to become empty, then scurry with his cart to do his job, always with complete concentration and pride, but trying so hard to please every person he met. Over time the gang at the truck stop learned that Stevie lived in public housing with his mother, a widow, who was disabled after repeated surgeries for cancer. They lived on their social security benefits, but money was tight and what he was paid from the diner probably was the difference between them being able to live together or Stevie being sent to a group home. Sadly in August, Stevie would miss work for the first time in three years, and they learned he was in the Mayo Clinic receiving a new valve in his weakened heart and would be away from work for a few months. Thankfully, they got word in a few days he was out of surgery and was going to be OK but sadly the bills had run up and he and his mother weren’t going to be able to manage. The waitresses were handling Stevie’s work until he came back, and one morning after the breakfast rush, Frannie brought a couple of folded paper
napkins to the office, each contain- heard about their problems proudly ing several $20 bills and a little note presented them with an envelope declaring, “Something for Stevie.” containing more than $10,000 in This overwhelming generosity by cash and cheques to help them to the truckers and other customers of stay together in the future. There that friendly little truck stop continwere lots of shouting, cheering and a ued for three months, and then on Thanksgiving Day it was time for few tears that day but while everyone Stevie to come back to work. As he was shaking hands and hugging each walked through the door, he looked other, Stevie, with that big happy thinner and paler but still possessed smile on his face, was already back that wonderful smile, and headed for clearing the tables, and would conthe back room to get his apron and tinue for years to be the best worker his cart so that he could get back to that this kindly truck stop owner had the job he loved so much. ever hired. Over the cheers of the big crowd Have a great week, all of you. the owner announced there would be a celebration and he would be treating Stevie and his mother to a welcome back breakfast. As his frail mother unfolded her napkin two Dr. Leslie Gill & Dr. Jen Kobi more $10 bills fell out on the table, then to Complete Dental & Hygiene Services complete the miracle the truckers, their companies and other customers who had
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April 24, 2013 edition of the Ponoka News