Sunday, May 13, 2007


It was just an accident. But my oh my did she get angry. Her little boy, maybe seven or eight accidently knocked over a glass of fountain coke. It splashed down his front, all over a coat that covered the stool next to him and landed on his mother's sneakers. Her face burned white hot. She bellowed at the boy for being clumbsy just as the owner of the coat returned from the washroom.

He took the scene in, he had to be eighty if he was a day, and asked if the pop had spilled on his coat. She looked at him, angry as if he had dropped it himself, and said, "Yes, it did."

He picked up the soaking coat and said, "This isn't so bad after all."

The boy looked at him relieved and then back at his mother terrified.

"He's always dropping stuff and knocking things over," she was on the verge of a tantrum, "just look at my shoes."

In truth very little of the cola had hit her sneakers. But it mattered not, she was mad.

"Let me give you some advice," the old man said conversationally, setting his cane beside his stool and climbing on as if it was not still wet then made his voice more demanding, "you'd better calm yourself down."

She snorted at him as if he was just a dottery old fool.

"One thing I've learned," he said meaning it, "is to save being upset for things that matter. If you get that upset over something like this. When something really bad happens all you've got left is violence. You don't want to be left with that as your only choice."

That hit her as hard as she had wanted to strike her boy, and she started to cry.

"It's OK, just don't go making the mistake that I did. Leave yourself room. Fury isn't for little things."

She wiped her tears and said nothing.

He took one last look at her, as if he was trying to see if she understood, then called over to the waitress, "Could you bring this boy another coke?"

Then he looked at the boy and said, "How about having it on me, like the last one?"

His mobile phone rang and he answered it, talked for a minute and got up and rescued his cane from where it rested against the stool. He put a bill on the table to pay for the coke and on his way out he stopped by the woman and pointed to the bill. "You can keep the change. Put it towards cleaning your shoes."

You could hear his chuckle as he made his way to the door.

"Thank you, sir," she whispered as he disappeared from view.


Anonymous said...

This is something I needed to read today. Thanks for sharing it.

Emily said...

Beautiful; thank you for posting this.

I came to your blog because I've heard good things about you, both in the blog world and offline; apparently, I just missed some trainings/classes you gave here in Rhode Island. My friend Karen took your ethics of touch class and enjoyed it very much.

Keep up the good work, and I hope to have a chance to meet you sometime; I'll be reading.

And the story about the guys who went to the strip club was good and, I think, instructive; I've mentioned it to folks at my agency (Bridges) and PAL/CPNRI as well. Is there a link to a news article I could share? It sounds like it could be a very eye-opening experience for the community and a step forward for community building, IF people'd be willing to open their minds and *realize*... what's been the overall outcome/effect, if any?

Thanks again!