NO PIZZA! (The way things are done)

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Sal’s shop was just down the street from The Cantina Italiana.  Sal was one of our regulars at the bar.  He was a tough man who had grown up in Boston’s North End, all the local wiseguys were his friends . . . but he wasn’t a gangster himself.

Sal made his living selling meats; his shop had the best cold-cuts in the city.  Thick slabs of imported Culatello, Mortadella, and Capicola hung from strings behind the counter.  All day long people lined up to pick and choose what they wanted in their sandwiches, or to take home.

Sal decided that he should also sell slices of pizza.  There was a small pizza shop directly across the street, and Sal was tired of people buying a sub from him, then leaving to get their slices.

I remember stopping at Sal’s shop and seeing the new pizza oven from Chicago, still sitting in its large crate in the back kitchen of his store.  “I should have done this years ago,” Sal told me, arms proudly folded across his chest.

Sal’s shop was a family business and his 15-year-old daughter was often behind the counter after she got out of school.  One day she was in the store by herself when a shaky junkie walked in with a gun.  The guy put the barrel of the gun to Sal’s daughter’s head, and demanded what was in the register.

Sal immediately rushed back to his shop when he heard, and after checking on his daughter, he went ballistic.

I remember he stormed into The Cantina looking for Joey Cigars (Joey was a reputed mob guy — click here for a story that took place after this happened.)  Sal was so pissed and red-in-face I thought his head was going to explode.

Joey wasn’t there, so Sal went down to the coffee shop looking for him.  He stood at Joey’s table screaming at him for allowing something like this to happen in the neighborhood — not what I’d recommend, but Sal had known these guys since he was a kid.

“What are you doing?” Sal screamed at Joey, “This is the way you run the neighborhood?  A guy puts a gun to my daughter’s head . . . IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD?

“Go home,” Joey quietly told Sal.  “Calm down and go home.  Someone will be over to see you.”

Not long afterwards there was a knock on Sal’s door.  A guy standing there told him the name of the junkie, and where he lived.

“The cops will be picking him up in a couple of hours,” the guy told Sal, “You’ve got a couple of hours.”

“Don’t kill him,” the guy said.  “Do you understand . . . don’t kill him.”

Sal called a few of his buddies and they took off in two cars to the junkie’s apartment building.  There was a cab outside the building when they got there, the motor running and the guy’s girlfriend already inside it.

They saw the junkie run out of the building and hop into the cab, but before it could pull away, one of the cars screeched up in front of it, blocking their escape.

The girlfriend jumped out one side and started running, but before the junkie could get away Sal and his friends grabbed him.  They had guns.  They threw him against the side of the vehicle.

“Don’t fucking move!” Sal screamed.  He held a gun against the side of the junkies’ head.  “DON’T YOU FUCKING MOVE . . . I’LL BLOW YOUR FUCKING HEAD OFF!!!”

Sal and his friends hustled the guy into the back seat of one of the cars.  As they barreled away, three of them were beating him while they tied his hands and feet together with thick rope.

They were driving back to one of their homes in the suburbs.  On the way, they drove across a bridge that passed over Route 93, an eight-lane highway.

They stopped on that bridge.  Someone had an idea for using the remaining rope.

They tied one end of the length of rope securely around the guy’s ankles, then they dragged him out of the car.  The others motorists on the bridge were honking their horns and swerving to avoid this car haphazardly parked on one side.

They dragged him to the edge of the bridge, and lifted him over the railing.

The junkie was dangling from the bridge at the end of the rope, with all the traffic speeding by below him.

He swung back and forth by his feet over the highway.  His mouth had been taped with duct tape, but even from above they could hear his screams.  He was so terrified his pissed himself; his pants were soaked.

Sal and his buddies pulled the guy back up over the railing, stuffed him into the back seat, and continued to the suburban home.

Once there, they took the junkie down to the basement.  They sat him on his ass, untied his hands, and then retied them behind him around a pole.  They took off the guy’s shoes.

Then they sat at a folding table in the basement and began playing cards, and drinking.

The guy’s chest was shaking with his sobs, which were still muffled by the duck tape.  Tears were running down his cheeks.

One of Sal‘s buddies got up to take a piss, and he stopped in front of the junkie.  He bent down to pick up one of the shoes, and then he whacked him across the face hard with the heel of the shoe, once on each cheek.  “Whack!!!”  The heel of the shoe hit one side of the guy’s face.  “Whack!!!”  Then the other.

After that, anytime one of them got up to go to the bathroom or get another drink, on the way they’d stop to pick up one of his shoes, and hit the guy hard twice in the face with its heel.

They did this for over an hour.

The guy curled into a whimpering ball, the only thing holding him up was the pole.

Finally they lifted the junkie up and drove him to East Boston, the Hispanic section.  They untied his hands and feet, and dumped him out of the car with the front of his pants still wet.  He was stinking of urine, and barefoot.

When I first heard the story, I figured Sal was in serious trouble.  Later it turned out that the judge was extremely lenient.  Sal got a slap on the wrist.  The judge considered the mental state Sal must have been in — the guy had put a gun to his daughter’s head.

Sal got a suspended sentence.  He didn’t spend a day in jail.

“Gotta walk on eggshells for a while,” Sal told me later as I worked behind the bar at The Cantina.  “I’m on probation,” he said.

A week later I was surprised to see two new signs up in the front windows of Sal’s shop.   They were rectangular, white cardboard signs about ten inches long and four inches high, sitting at the bottom of each window.

It seems that one of Joey Cigar’s guys had come over to see Sal right after the judge let him go.

The guy told Sal that his cousin owned the pizza shop across the street.  “He’s not really my cousin,“ Joey’s guy told Sal, “It’s on my wife’s side.”

“Personally I don’t like the guy, but what can I do?” Joey’s man said, “It’s my wife’s cousin.”

He told Sal that he hoped he would think it over before starting to serve pizza.

“I hope you don’t do it,” Joey’s man told Sal.  “Look, you’ll be doing me a favor . . . just stick with the cold cuts.  You don’t want to put my wife’s cousin out of business, do you?”

The next day those two new signs were up in Sal’s front windows.  The sign at the bottom of the left window said “NO PIZZA!” — and the sign at the bottom of the right window said “NO PIZZA!”  The signs remained there for several months.

No pizza.  That unopened crate with the pizza oven was shipped back to Chicago.  But Sal continued to have lines of people waiting for his cold cuts, and no one ever bothered his shop or his daughter again.

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My apologies, but there won’t be a regular post this week.  I’m behind once again.  Starting next week I’ll be dropping one shift on the bar, no more Thursday nights — so hopefully I’ll be able to still make a living, keep this blog updated, and work on my New Year’s resolution.

Left to right -- off-duty bartender Jeremy, barback Craig ("Chombo"), and good friend and customer Brenden, gather around Al. Photo by Val Bosse

Next scheduled update is January 20th, but in the meantime here’s a recent photo from Johnny D’s — it’s our good friend Al, with some of the staff and regulars.

This crew was out bar-hopping in Davis Square — Brendan and Brooke, Dave, Jeremey, “Chombo”, Val and others — when they stopped into Johnny D’s.  They ended up hanging out with Al, sitting in his usual spot, and Val said, “Let me get a picture of the guys.“

Al is eighty-five-years-old, but as my coach Archie Goodbee would say, he’s still spitting fire.  He may not be as quick on his feet as he used to be, but he’s still mentally sharp, always walking into the club with the current edition of The New York Times under his arm.

We try to have his Jim Beam Manhatten (straight-up, dirty rocks on the side) waiting for him by the time he reaches his bar stool.

Al is content to sip his drink and read the Times cover to cover.  Sometimes he’ll be on his cell phone as we walk by, talking with one of his four kids, or eleven (I think he once told me it was eleven) grandchildren.  Sometimes he’ll bring his new iPad with him, and surf the web.

It’s hard to explain, but anyone who works behind the taps will understand — Al is just one of those guys you enjoy having at your bar.

Al minds his own business as  he orders an appetizer and switches to white wine, but it’s surprising how often he ends up in conversations with customers sitting on either side.  Al is inclined to talk about the bands that are playing, or current affairs, but I like to steer him to talking about the old days — when Scollay Square was hopping, and all the dance joints that they’d frequent.  Or back to the days when they’d all go to the North End and The Cantina Italiana, decades before I would work there.

Tom Brokaw called Al’s generation “The Greatest Generation.”  Al lived through the Great Depression as a young boy.  He built submarines during WWII, raised a family during The Korean and Vietnam Wars, and like most Americans was shocked and angry when John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Al is a “been there/done that” type of guy who doesn’t need to tell you about it.

He’s done his job — and done it well — for his country, his family, and himself.  Now he just wants a comfortable place to stop at and relax for a while.

Always good to have you here, Al

Be back on the twentieth with a new post.

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“Hey, are you going to put the game on?” he asked.

The tone of his request made me stop and turn.  I was on my way to the other end of the bar, two pints of beer in hand, when he just about reached out and grabbed me.  These were the first words he’d said aside from ordering his initial drink, and now they came out like, “Hey, what-the-fuck, are you going to put the game on or not!”

“I’ll be right back,” I said.

There are two large-screen TV’s at Johnny D’s, one at either end of the bar.  Both had games on — at the far end the Boston Celtics were playing; the other TV had the NY Giants against the Dallas Cowboys.  Apparently he wanted to see the Giants/Cowboys football game even though he walked the full length of the bar past that TV, choosing instead to sit in front of the one showing basketball.

The Sunday blues jam was going on and no one was really paying attention to either game, so I switched them.  The guy folded his arms across his chest as though the wait was taking every bit of his patience.

“There you go,“ I said.  I stood in front of him for a second with the TV clicker in hand . . . but he didn’t say “thanks” or anything.  His arms were still folded across his chest.

I suppose in some bars this is business as usual, but the man’s attitude stood out like a sore thumb at Johnny D’s.  The guy had a bug up his ass about something.

A few minutes later, a kid in his early twenties waved his hand.  “Could I have a menu?” he snapped.

Again, that tone.  What was going on here?

He’d just taken his seat at the bar . . . I swear his butt cheeks hadn’t even fully settled onto the bar stool before he had an attitude like he’d been waiting for half an hour.

Was it me?

Then I remembered that it was the afternoon after New Year’s Eve.

“That’s it,” I thought, “It’s the Memorial Day Syndrome.”  This might be a long shift.

Of course it wasn’t actually Memorial Day, but that’s when John Bonaccorso and I first talked about this syndrome.  It was maybe ten years ago and we were tending bar over a Memorial Day Weekend when we noticed that we had a lot of new faces in the club, and their attitude and behavior was quite different than our regular crowd.  Some of these new people walked in the door with a huge chip on their shoulder.  Nothing was quite right for them — not the band, the food, the service, not the freaking bar top — they weren’t going to be satisfied with anything.

“These are the people who weren’t invited to any cookouts or parties,” John said,  “They’re not a happy bunch.”

After that we called it the Memorial Day Syndrome, although I guess it also applies to those who were disappointed with their New Year’s Eve.


I  sympathize with people who have a tough time on the holidays.  I get the holiday blues myself.  It’s a bitch when things don’t live up to your expectations.  You feel like you’re missing out on something everyone else seems to have.

And I agree with the basic instinct to head for a local bar — but when you walk in with an attitude, are things really going to get any better for you?

Maybe I was wrong about what was behind their attitude, but I couldn’t help pick up on it.  It seemed to come from nowhere.

When you’ve been in the business for awhile this sort of thing jumps out at you.  It’s like a cop who’s walked the same beat a hundred times and quickly spots the guy who’s acting strangely, a little out of synch.  It’s a survival mechanism.

You’re probably not going to do or say anything about it, . . . something so small as a sour attitude, but you notice it, and you keep it in mind.  If it gets worse you might communicate with the other bartenders.  “Keep an eye on the guy in the blue shirt . . . something’s a little off about him.  He’s in a pissy mood.”

Now the menu guy ordered a hamburger as though he were doing me a favor.  “Well, I guess I’ll just have the hamburger,” he said in a huff.  As though he really wasn’t pleased with anything on the menu, but he’d be big about it  . . . and order a burger.

“Medium rare . . . who cares?” I thought as I walked away.

I usually can’t be bothered with people’s self-imposed moods.  As long as they’re not actually starting trouble, this stuff rolls off my back behind the taps.

If I screw something up, I feel bad about it.  If the kitchen screws up, if something about the club disappoints them — if it’s something that we might have done better, I’m concerned.  I’ll apologize and try to make it up to them.

But if someone has an attitude just because they’re in a bad mood . . . that’s their problem.  And please don’t think of letting your bad mood affect the people around you, because you’ll find yourself back out on the street.

I went down to talk with the regular blues jam players.

Later I went back to see if the TV guy wanted anything else.  As I set down his new beer, I thought I probably should have talked with him first — to see how he was doing.  I’d only served him one beer, but he might already have been drinking somewhere else.

“How’s it going?” I asked as I set the beer down, “How are you doing today?”

“I’m fine,” he replied sharply, “How are YOU doing?”

“Great,” I thought, “He answers a simple question as though he’s returning a serve in some competitive game.”

“I’m doing a lot better now the holidays are over,” I said.

I wasn’t trying to be nice, or make him feel better.  I was just trying to get him to talk.  I knew that if he did spend New Year’s Eve alone, . . . I might be able to say something that would soften the sting.  But that wasn’t my goal.

“It seems like more work every year,” I continued, “I’m glad I worked New Year’s Eve . . . otherwise I probably would have stayed at home.”

“It’s too crazy,” I said, “And everything costs twice as much.”

“I hear ya,” the guy said.

We talked for a while.  I told him that I thought New Year’s Eve had changed a lot over the last 10-15 years, at least at Johnny D’s.  People didn’t seem so intent nowadays on finding that “Big-New-Year’s-Eve Date.”

“Our crowd had some couples,” I said, “But it was mostly groups of friends, male and female, and individuals who just wanted to celebrate with Booty Vortex . . . some of them knew a lot of people at the club, others were just meeting people as they went along.”

“It was a laid-back night,” I said.

He said it sounded pretty cool.

It’s funny . . . making a small effort to be a little nice to this guy made me feel good.

Later when he was leaving, he made a point to catch my eye and give me a short wave.  “Thanks,” he said, “Take it easy.”  As though we were friends.

“You, too,” I said.  I suppose, as his bartender, in a way we were.

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A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES (My New Year’s resolution)

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Normally I’m not big on the New Year’s resolutions — haven’t bothered with one for the last 10-15 years, and I’ve never written any of them down.  (Certainly never posted one on the web for everyone to see.)

This year is different.

In 2012, I really have to get off my butt and finish the book I’ve been working on for the last three years.  Well, . . . I’ve been working on it for three years, but I’ve been talking about it for almost twenty.

Saturday at the club, New Year’s Eve, a woman came up to order a drink and said, “Oh hi, . . . you’re still here?”

“How’s the book coming?” she asked.

I hadn’t seen her since she moved out of town back when Bill Clinton was president.

Three years . . . twenty years, . . . it actually goes back even further than that.  I’ve been vaguely planning to be a writer for as long as I can remember.

I think the idea began as a way to deal with growing up.

I was  miserable following my parents divorce.  I resented my Mom for sending my father packing, although I realize now she didn’t have much choice.

When I was four we moved to rural Hanover, Massachusetts.  I was alone a lot because my sister Kathy was attending kindergarten, and my mother taught fourth grade at that same school.  I spent my days at a neighbor’s house with a woman whose face I can’t remember.

As a child Mike Q was an avid reader of comic books.

Then my sister began first grade and for some reason I didn’t go to kindergarten, so I spent another year with this faceless woman, although I remember her as being very kind and making me a lot of soup.

That’s when I began reading.  At first it was just comic books (in my defense, I read a lot of Classics Illustrated, where novels like MOBY DICK and THE CALL OF THE WILD were presented in comic book form.)

In grade school I began browsing through the family bookcase.  I think it was in third grade that I read Eager Allen Poe’s, “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

I thought, “I want to write a story like that!”

The dream of becoming a writer was something I clung to when things got tough.  My first girl friend broke up with me, but that was OK . . . someday I was going to be a writer.  Maybe I’d write about the experience.

In college I wasn’t interested in anything I studied; I had no idea what to do with my life, but I shrugged it off.

I was going to be a writer.

It wasn’t something I thought about all the time, and but it was one of those half-formed ideas, a plan for the future that can keep you going.

When I finally headed for Boston to start work on this plan, I knew it wouldn’t be easy.  I’d heard the stories about young authors struggling for years to be successful, facing hundreds of rejection letters.

I had read the strangest, perhaps saddest of these stories, in the forward of a book titled A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES, by John Kennedy Toole.

It seems that after completing his Master’s Degree in Literature, this young man sat down to bang out his first novel.  He poured his heart and soul into the book, but couldn’t get anyone to take it seriously.  He sent the manuscript to publisher after publisher . . . but all that came back were curt rejections.

Perhaps it was this unrelenting stream of dismissals, or maybe he had personal problems, but in the end – John Kennedy Toole killed himself.

This is a true story.

Years later, his still distraught Mom dusted off her son’s opus and began sending it out herself, apparently determined to sanctify his effort.

Like her son, she faced repeated rejection until one day a professor at Loyola University agreed to look at it.  Percy Walker later wrote that that the only reason he read the manuscript was because Toole’s mother kept calling him and showing up unannounced at his office — but once he did read the book, he was so impressed he convinced LSU Press to publish it.

One year later, John Kennedy Toole’s A CONFERACY OF DUNCES won The Pulitzer Prize in Literature.  (It sounds unbelievable, but this is how it happened.)

John Kennedy Toole apparently had it right when he chose as the title for his book something borrowed from Jonathan Swift:

“When a true genius comes into the world, you shall know him by this sign, that all the dunces are in confederacy against him.”

Anyway, at the time it looked to me like nobody at the publishing houses knew what they were doing.  I was as a young man . . . a bartender who wanted to be a writer, but what editor would talk with me except when they needed a drink?

So, I deceloped a strategy.  I decided that to be successful, I should establish some writing credentials before submitting a manuscript.

I’d come across something in a literature course that interested me — that would be my first publication, I decided — an academic article in literature.  Then I’d write magazine articles, and just before starting the novel, I’d warm up with some short stories.  With this professional background as a writer, I figured they’d have to listen to me.

In the meantime, I’d simply continue tending bar . . .

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know what happened next.

It’s easy to become distracted, working behind the taps.  Maybe I didn’t put as much time into this project as I should have.  There were a lot after-hours parties and nights spent raising hell.

There were a lot of wrong turns, a few missed exits and dead-ends.  Maybe I should have been more careful making life-decisions — instead of digging myself into one hole after another.  One day I was chasing madly after women like Kristin, and the next trying to foil the plots of guys like Dan Crowne.

Maybe I should blame it on Jackie Rabbit and Maude the Broad.  Or Paul and Sonny, Joey Cigars, or Johnny La La, . . . or any of one hundred real-life characters from stories I haven’t posted yet.

But put all this together, and it’s taken me twenty years to just complete a three-step plan leading up to a book.  (I substituted this blog for the warm-up short stories.)

Well, . . . no sense in looking back or bitching now.  At least I’ve laid the groundwork.

This will be the year I finally get it done . . . that’s my New Year’s resolution.  This year, Lord willing, I’m going to finish that book.

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Colleen visiting her parents in Florida last year.

“Are you OK?” Colleen asks.

“I’m fine,” I tell her, phone at my ear.  “Maybe I’m just coming down with a cold.”

It’s Wednesday afternoon and I’m already five days late with this week’s post.  I have the time off today, but I don’t feel like writing.

“Are you sure you‘re OK?” Colleen asks.

“Maybe it’s the holiday blues,” I say.

My mood is definitely bah-humbug today.  On Christmas, everyone will be at Colleen’s house, and I’ll be heading to work.  Johnny D’s opens at 6 P.M. Christmas night.

But this year’s no different, I always work Christmas . . . so that‘s probably not what’s bothering me.

Maybe I’m discouraged because another year has come and gone — and the book I‘ve been working on still isn’t finished.  Where does the time go?  Right now I‘m having trouble just pulling together weekly posts.

Or is it . . . here’s a horrible thought . . . that I’m just being lazy today?  (I hate when I find myself doing that.)

Anyway, instead of writing this post I called my best friend, Colleen, and we talked for a while.  Then I began reading one of David Hayden’s blogs.  He has a network of blogs, all of them top-shelf, and he also wrote a great little book on how to make more money in foodservice.

Last week in “Tips on Improving your Tips”, David wrote about the “Grinch-like” actions of a Kansas City bar owner.  The owner of Jardine’s, a highly-respected jazz club, recently fired all fifteen of her employees.

It seems that three weeks before Christmas, the staff at Jardine’s came to work at their usual time . . . and found the doors locked.  The place was closed.  They’d all been fired.

(Photo from "Tips for Improving your Tips".)

The sign on the front door said that the club would be closed while the place was remodeled and an entire new staff was hired from scratch.

(I’ve heard owners threaten this — “They’re not going to run ME . . . I’ll lock the doors and hire all new people!” — but this is the first time I’ve actually seen it done.)

Since the en mass-firing, there’s been plenty of mudslinging and finger-pointing from both Jardine’s ownership and the now-unemployed staff.

I’ve read that Jardine’s still owes some of these employees money — back tips that were never paid.  There was talk of verbal abuse and harassment, and one employee actually filed assault charges against the owner.  I read somewhere else that the whole thing started when some of the staff were caught drinking illegally after hours at the club.

But this “he said/she said” thing aside . . . what is not in dispute is the timing of the firing.

Three weeks before Christmas.

Given this business, we can assume that at least some of these employees were living paycheck to paycheck — and just before Christmas, all fifteen suddenly found themselves without jobs.

I can’t help but think of Tina DeLellis at Johnny D’s.  (Tina was the mom of current owner Carla DeLellis.)  Tina would never fire anyone during the Christmas holiday.

David and Carla with their mom, Tina DeLellis (Mrs. Johnny D). Photo from the LIVING/ARTS section of The Boston Globe, August 9,1991.

Tina demanded a lot from her staff — there was never any doubt about who was the boss — but she also treated everyone with respect.  She knew what it was like to struggle, to work hard just to get by.  She was quick to loan her staff money if someone came up short on rent at the end of the month, or was hit with sudden bills.

Maybe it was because Tina was born and raised in Naples, Italy and still had a lot of old-school ways about her — or maybe she just thought it was bad luck to fire someone around Christmas — but that was one of her unbending principles.  Everyone got at least one free pass during the holiday season.

I remember one year a prep cook was caught red-handed sneaking two bottles of beer out of the walk-in cooler downstairs.  The bartenders had noticed a bottle or two missing here and there, and now it was clear why.

The prep cook would snag a couple bottles, then go out to the back alley and chug down the beers before returning to work.

It wasn’t just the missing beers Tina was concerned about.  She didn’t want her kitchen staff working around hot stoves, handling sharp knives and even operating the slicing machine after they’d been drinking.

But it was the week before Christmas, . . . and she didn’t fire the guy.

“We’re going to talk about this after New Year’s,” Tina told him.  “For now, I need you to give me your word that this won’t happen again.”

“I need you to give me your word,” Tina said, “I can’t have you drinking on the job in my place.”

The guy finished out the holidays at Johnny D’s, then found another job, probably figuring he’d blown his chances here.

When he told Tina he was leaving, he thanked her, and kept repeating over and over how much he appreciated working for her.

Maybe it’s two different situations — Jardine’s and Johnny D’s.  Or maybe just two totally different owners.

Anyway, I want to finish this post with one further note on the Christmas spirit.

Although this isn’t technically a holiday story, I think the sentiment fits perfectly — this is from a book I found on top of the hamper in Colleen’s guest bathroom.  (I think she put it there as some sort of decoration . . . it’s a coffee-table book titled Chicken Soup for the Soul.)

One of the stories in it is from humorist Art Buchwald.

It seems that Art Buchwald was riding with a friend in a New York City taxi when the friend complimented the cabbie on his driving.

Later, when Art and his friend were walking down the sidewalk, the friend complimented some construction workers laboring at a site.

“What was that all about,” the author asked.

His friend told him that he was trying to bring some love back to New York City, one person at a time.

He said that although he was only one individual, his simple acts of kindness could multiply exponentially.

“[For example] I believe I have made that taxi driver‘s day.  Suppose he has twenty fares.  He‘s going to be nice to those twenty fares because someone was nice to him.  Those fares will in turn be kinder to their employees, shopkeepers or waiters, or even their own families.  Eventually, the goodwill could spread to at least a thousand people.  Now that isn‘t bad, is it?”

“You’re some kind of nut,“ Art Buchwald said, but the guy wasn’t discouraged.  He replied, “I’m hoping to enlist others in my campaign.”

They continued walking down the street.

“You just smiled at a very plain-looking woman,” Art Buchwald said.

“Yes, I know,” the friend replied, “And if she‘s a schoolteacher, her class is going to be in for a fantastic day.”

Here’s wishing that you and yours have a fantastic Christmas.

UPDATE 12/22 . . . David Hayden writes in the comment section below that he’s been contacted by several restaurant managers/owners who want to hire the fired Jardine’s employees.  Good news, just in time for Christmas . . . perfect.

(Coming Sunday, January 1, 2012 . . . a New Year’s Resolution!)

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