Winning Words 6/9/11
“He taught me to talk to janitors.” (Rochelle Riley writing about Greg Lewis) Riley was writing about her newspaper mentor and what she had learned from him. “In writing a story, don’t forget to talk with the common people.” Something similar: “If you really want to know about a man, talk to his valet.” In this celebrity-conscious society, pay attention to ordinary folks. That’s where the real story is. ;-) Jack
FROM RB IN MICHIGAN: Were you at the recent WBHS Graduation? The male Valedictorian (Avery) did just this...e started by recognizing the "humble guard" (Isaac) who doubled as greeter and cheerleader, then spoke about his unsung heroes - a cheer-leading "Special Ed student", etc. He received series of applause for recognizing them... we saw his real ministry / service talent come forth. He will attend Cornell in the fall with serving people as the focus of his studies. Your winning words are always right on time! Keep on being a blessing.////FROM JACK: I always seem to miss some of the good stuff that happens in my neighborhood. Thanks for letting me know that one of our young people has been taught to "talk to janitors." I'll check to see if there's an online video of what Avery said.
FROM OUTHOUSE JUDY: A very humble reminder is the tv program "Undercover Boss"...I think that's the name...but it is a very good measure of a company and the company bosses. It's the ordinary person who keeps us all afloat. Most families are made up of ordinary men and women; I know mine is and has been through the ages. I celebrate us!////FROM JACK: The first episode of "Undercover Boss" featured a CEO who was in my daughter's class at Albion College. I like "UB" for the way in which the "bosses" are forced to talk with the janitors. A former CEO of General Motors made it practice to greet one of the "janitors" by name every day when he entered the GM building.////MORE FROM JUDY: There are more caring bosses then people think. Mr. King, who owned King Coffee was my dad's boss for years and years. There were five of us kids but Mr. King would have each of his workers families over at least once a year. His whole house was white...white carpeting too. And Mr. King always ask my dad what us kids liked to eat and drink. Red Koolaid was the drink we preferred because we never got to drink anything but orange juice and milk (my parents were so cruel...no pop or Koolaid for us). So, Mrs. King would always give us red Koolaid on their white carpeting!! My mom nearly had a heart attack during each visit. But the King's wouldn't have cared. I thank God for all of those caring bosses and the bosses who are more than willing to have their eyes opened to shake hands with those people who keep their businesses running.////FROM JACK: Is King coffee still in business? I could support a company like that. You're right! There are caring bosses...like God Almighty.
FROM TS IN MICHIGAN: My friend, Tom Seabron, who was born in, and went to high school in, Detroit, is a brilliant African-American financial advisor. Lawyers send him their clients who have won large injury awards. He is in a meeting between the lawyers and the clients. The lawyers don't know how to speak to the clients' families; the clients' families are clearly not comfortable expressing themselves to the lawyers, and Tom serves as the interpreter expressing the ideas of the attorneys in plain, clear simple language to the clients; listening to the clients' response and expressing it to the attorneys. The two Englishes are clearly amazing -- not only the words used, but the method of expression, are simply amazing. My friend, Ruth Mossok, is a nationally reknowned cook-book author. She posts many of her efforts, not necessarily the recipes, but stewing, basting, ... And I'll write, "English, but I don't understand a word of it." She laughs.//// FROM JACK: Yesterday, I saw a beautiful thing....I was standing in line behind two women. One was making an appointment as an interpreter for her friend in sign language. BTW, not all lawyers are "sharks."
FROM TAMP SHIRL: One of the journals that I kept when I was in Virginia was to ask the ordinary people I met where they were from and then I got nosier. For example, the guest services clerk at Target came from Syria 6 months ago and it was easy for him because his mother has been here for 15 years, the 20 year old girl working at Staples who had stayed up all night talking with friends and who wants to join the Air Force and be a linguist and whose mother and grandmother live at Top of the World in Clearwater, and the woman waiting for the United flight home and who came to Milwaukee from Russia in l978 with her parents, is an engineer, and was going to Tampa for a brief meeting for her company.////FROM JACK: Curious people can make some interesting days for themselves and for others, too. On a whim, a paid the bill for a grandmother and her grandchildren when I saw them at one of my favorite restaurants, Pete's Coney Island. She insisted that I give her my name and address. Later, I received a nice "thank you" card sent by her from Georgia. I still have it.
FROM BLAZING OAKS: Reader's Digest runs a series each month on "Our Hero" in which they highlight common people who do "heroic" work to help others or animals, etc. It is heartening to read about so many good people in our country! When you mentioned paying a restaurant bill for strangers (to you). I remember how it felt when a former student (we're both retired teachers) paid my friend and my bill at a restaurant where we were having Sunday dinner, as he left...what a delightful surprise and blessing! Parishioners also paid (more than once) for Bill and my lunch secretly, when he/she spotted us dining out...we "paid if forward" many times to those in need! As any pastor does...Do you remember the newspaper story about the University professor who had the question on his final exam, "What is the name of the woman custodian of our building?" Only one student knew, and received credit for his answer: then the professor explained the reason for the question...she'd kept the building clean and attractive for almost a year, and she certainly should be known to them, and appreciated! They never forgot it!////FROM JACK: In the days when we were counting our pennies and we had 3 small children, it was a treat to go out to a restaurant. It was a real treat when the waitress pointed to a couple who had paid our bill (including the tip). We've never forgotten that, nor them. BTW, the test question was a good one. I think I can find a way to work into a sermon someday.
FROM MOLINER CF: Who decides who is "Ordinary folks?" Kind of snobbish isn't it?////FROM JACK: You and I....We're just "Plain Folks." A Plain Folks argument is one in which the speaker presents him or herself as an Average Joe, a common person who can understand and empathize with a listener's concerns. I think that I might change your acronym to "Plain Folks Chester."
FROM CWR IN B'MORE: .........weekly I spend some time with the dropped off the map, left out, excluded people of color (all colors , including white), under -employed "working poor" and those living with them whom they support....all with no health insurance, some in rat infested housing or in "living with" housing....most of whom are gentle, kind, sharing what little they do have with others, grandparents (age 40) supporting whole families all crowded into sub-standard housing with them, .....and we treat them and all "supported by them" , including anybody living under their roof for the total fee of "one hours wage" of the one in the house with a job. You bet that's where reality resides. All the rest is icing......not earned, but a gift, as in 'of good fortune'. On a global scale, where whole populations are in the condition of those whom we see,......I think that the Jesus message is that we, no matter how modest our resources or the state of our own health ,are the fortunate ones, the lucky few....... there's a whole other world out there and neither of us has earned what we have......primarily it's an accident of birth. That's what I think Jesus was addressing.////FROM JACK: That's what the veteran newsman said: "Don't forget the "janitors," the ordinary folk! God has put you in a certain place at a certain time to talk to and serve his special people...and for free, too. Hallelujah!
FROM AW IN ILLINOIS: Jack, some years ago, Judy and I had daily lunch at our local Sr.Center. One of the regulars was a delightful gentleman named Howard, who was 91 and enjoyed the company. One day I asked Howard how he spent his day. His answer is a classic, I think. Howard said "This morning I did nothing, and when I get home, I'm going to finish it."////FROM JACK: Older people have some interesting things to say, when you take the time to ask and listen.