Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
March 3, 1993

A certain shopkeeper sent his son to learn about the secret of happiness from the wisest man in the world. The lad wandered through the desert for 40 days, and finally came upon a beautiful castle, high atop a mountain. It was there that the wise man lived.

Rather than finding a saintly man, though, our hero, on entering the main room of the castle, saw a hive of activity: tradesmen came and went, people were conversing in the corners, a small orchestra was playing soft music, and there was a table covered with platters of the most delicious food in that part of the world.

The wise man conversed with everyone, and the boy had to wait for two hours before it was his turn to be given the man’s attention.

The wise man listened attentively to the boy’s explanation of why he had come, but told him that he didn’t have time just then to explain the secret of happiness. He suggested that the boy look around the palace and return in two hours.

“Meanwhile, I want to ask you to do something,” said the wise man, handing the boy a teaspoon that held two drops of oil. “As you wander around, carry this spoon with you without allowing the oil to spill.”

The boy began climbing and descending the many stairways of the palace, keeping his eyes fixed on the spoon. After two hours, he returned to the room where the wise man was.

“Well,” asked the wise man, “Did you see the Persian tapestries that are hanging in my dining hall? Did you see the garden that it took the master gardener ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?”

The boy was embarrassed, and confessed that he had observed nothing. His only concern had been not to spill the oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.

“Then go back and observe the marvels of my world,” said the wise man. “You cannot trust a man if you don’t know his house.”

Relieved, the boy picked up the spoon and returned to his exploration of the palace, this time observing all of the works of art on the ceilings and the walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around him, the beauty of the flowers, and the taste with which everything had been selected. Upon returning to the wise man, he related in detail everything he had seen.

“But where are the drops of oil I entrusted to you?” asked the wise man. Looking down at the spoon he held, the boy saw that the oil was gone.

“Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you,” said the wisest of wise men.

“The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.”

-- By Paul Coelho in "The Alchemist"

Originally posted on Morning Story and Dilbert:

dilbert

Close your eyes and go back… Before the Internet, or the MAC…
Before semi automatics and crack…

Way back. I’m talkin’ ’bout…

Hide and seek at dusk. Sittin’ on the porch, The Good Humor Man, and Red Light, Green Light.

Chocolate milk, Lunch tickets, Penny candy in a brown paper bag.
Playin’ Pinball at the corner store. Hopscotch, butterscotch, doubledutch, Jacks, kickball, dodgeball, Mother May I? Red Rover and Roly Poly.

Double Dog Dares! Hula Hoops and Sunflower Seeds, Mary Janes, Banana Splits, Wax Lips and Mustaches. And running through the sprinklers.

The smells of outdoors… and lickin’ salty lips.
Watchin’ Saturday Morning cartoons like Fat Albert, Road Runner, He-Man, The Three Stooges, and Bugs. Or back further… 
listening to Superman and The Shadow on the radio.

Catchin’ lightening bugs in a jar, Playin’ sling shot.

Remember when around the corner seemed far away… and going downtown seemed like going…

View original 374 more words

Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
February 27, 2007

That first afternoon, when I came downstairs from my third floor classroom and put my hand in my mailbox, I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

The check I expected and badly needed wasn’t there.

When I turned around and asked the school secretary what happened, she informed me that the teachers weren’t paid until the end of the month. This was a problem. I had four dollars in my wallet, and the end of the month was a whole month away.

My prior teaching experience had been in small town schools in Southwest Missouri, where the teachers were always given the first month’s check the first day of school. Now, here in the big St. Louis Public School System, I found things worked differently.

What to do? I had come into St. Louis two weeks before as required for all new teachers to go over the course of study and had spent my little reserve. Now the four dollars I had left wouldn’t even pay for my cheap motel room that night, much less buy dinner and gasoline.

I had my trumpet in the car, as I played trumpet as well as a little piano, and my first thought was to find a “gig” that night, but it was too late in the afternoon, and I didn’t know the city well enough to go looking. So I did something most musicians have done at one time or another. I decided to hock my horn.

I drove downtown to an unpleasant area where the hock shops, cheap bars and winos were. I hocked my trumpet for fifteen dollars, and now I had enough money to get through the night and the next day of school, but then what?

There was a little bar next to the pawn shop. I walked in, sat at the bar and ordered a thirty five cent beer. I was the only customer, except for an old wino with a gray beard who had passed out at a back table. I sat there sipping my beer and trying to think my way out of this problem.

“You look like you lost your last friend, Sonny,” said the bartender. “What’s the matter?”

His name was Charlie, and he was a pleasant man about 60, which seemed quite old to me at the time. I think I was about 24. I told him what had happened, and about hocking my horn. Then I went back to staring at the old piano I had seen as I came in the door.

Charlie was watching me. “Play piano, too, do you?” he asked.

“Just a little,” I replied. “I’m not very good.”

A few moments went by. Pretty soon Charlie said, “Do you know “Stardust” by Hoagy Carmichael?”

That did happen to be one of the few songs I could play, and I told him so.

“Sorta wish you would play it for me,” said Charlie, “That’s my favorite song.”

I shrugged my shoulders, went over to the piano, pulled out the bench and played “Stardust” as well as I could. It wasn’t good, but Charlie loved it and laughed and clapped his hands.

“You’re right,” he said, “You’re not very good, but that’s a fine song.” His brow furrowed. “You’re not so bad you’d run anybody off,” he said. “Tell you what, if you’ll come in here every night and play, I’ll rustle you up enough tips to keep you going till you get your check from school. You got a suit?”

I didn’t have one, so Charlie took me to the Salvation Army store on the other side of the pawn shop and bought me an old brown suit, shiny from wear, and with very wide lapels like they wore in the forties. It was probably that old, but it fit. Charlie paid five dollars for it, the clerk threw in a tie, and since I was already wearing a white shirt — I was set.

The customers started coming in about six, and they were a sad lot, indeed. They were all much older than I, with tattered clothes, some with shoe soles flapping, the women over made-up with too bright lipstick smeared from palsied hands. They filled the tables and the bar, and they listened to the old songs I played so badly and many got tears in their eyes.

“Whooie!” one old fellow would say, pounding his fist on the bar, “We got us a piano player! We’re uptown, now, ain’t we, Charlie? Whooie!”

I played the old songs I knew they loved, “Margie”, “Cruising down the River”, “Tea for Two”, “It Had to be You” and always “Stardust.”

Charlie liked to call me Hoagy, because Hoagy had written “Stardust”, and all the customers loved it as well as Charlie did. Several times a night, Charlie would yell out, “Play Stardust, Hoagy,” and then he would pass the tip jar and cajole the customers. “We need to help this kid out,” I would hear him say, and I could sometimes hear him tell them how I didn’t get my check and had to hock my horn.

About halfway through the evening, the cheap burlesque house across the street would let out, and Charley would open the door, stand in the opening, and yell out, “Play ‘Stardust,’ Hoagy! Play it loud!”

About the third evening when I took a short break and was standing at the bar next to an older lady wearing an old ill-fitting red dress, she spoke to me. “Honey,” she said, “We haven’t got the money to tip you much, but I can help some. My apartment is upstairs, and I don’t come in at night. You can sleep there if you want, and you won’t have to pay for a hotel room. You ain’t the type to be stayin’ in these old flophouses, anyway.” The next night she brought me a key.

So I would teach at Central High every day, and play at Charlie’s every night, and I came to know and love those unfortunate people, as they did me. When, after a month, I finally got paid, I went back to play for them one more time. This time I told Charlie not to pass the tip jar around, that I had been paid.

So that night, he just left it on the bar, but the customers put their nickels, dimes and quarters in it anyway. When I emptied it, there was a twenty dollar bill in there, too. That was probably from Charley, but I’ll never know for sure.

I left a little early that night after saying goodbye to everyone and thanking them. There were tears in all their eyes – and mine. By golly, we made it… together.

I don’t know what it is that makes poor folks, the down and outers, want so much to help their fellow man, and yet they’re the least able to do so. As I became a good pianist in later years and played the “ritzy” clubs, I can remember playing one where all the customers were multimillionaires, but not a one of them would have given me the scraps off his plate if I were starving.

Maybe God just knows who his people are.

Author -  Joe Edwards
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
February 26, 1995

With so many people in the world telling us we can’t succeed, we need to hear people telling us we can. I remember my high school English teacher telling me not to apply to Cornell University because they wouldn’t accept me and even if they did I wouldn’t be able to do the work. (It’s funny that I’m a writer now). I almost didn’t apply but a few days later I saw Ivan Goldfarb, a former teacher, in the hallway and asked him about Cornell. He said, “If you get in, then you go. You can do it.” His words made all the difference. I applied, was accepted and majored in Lacrosse :).

Too often we think it’s our role to inject a dose of “reality” into someone’s life. We think it’s our job to protect people from the pain of failure and defeat. We think we must point out how bad the economy is and how horrible the job market is and how the sky is falling. We think that dreams were meant for others.

I say there are enough pessimists and “realists” in the world. The world doesn’t need more negativity and impossible thinkers. The world needs more optimists, encouragers, and inspirers. The world needs more people to speak into the hearts of others and say “I believe in you.” “Follow your passion and live your purpose.” “If you have the desire then you also have the power to make it happen.” “Keep working hard.” “You’re improving and getting better. Keep it up.” “The economy is tough but you can still grow your business.” “The job market is not great but I believe you’ll find the right job for you.” “We’ve hit a lot of obstacles but we’ll get the project finished.” “Even if you fail it will lead to something even better.” “You’re learning and growing.”

When it comes to encouragement I know that everyone of us loves working for and with people who bring out the best in us. We love being around people who uplift us and make us feel great. And while we’ll always remember the negative people who told us we couldn’t accomplish something, we will always cherish and hold a special place in our heart for those who encouraged us.

Today I want to encourage you to be an encourager. So often the difference between success and failure is belief. And so often that belief is instilled in us by someone who encouraged us. Leadership, after all, is a transfer of belief.

Today decide to be that person who instills a positive belief in someone who needs to hear your encouraging words. Uplift someone who is feeling down. Fuel your team with your positive energy. Rally others to focus on what is possible rather than what seems impossible. Share encouragement. It matters and we all need it.

 

Author - Truett Cathy, Founder, Chick-fil-A
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
February 25, 1994

My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister’s bureau and lifted out a tissue – wrapped package. “This,” he said, “is not a slip. This is lingerie.” He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip. It was exquisite; silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached. “Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least 8 or 9 years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion.”

He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes we were taking to the mortician. His hands lingered on the soft material for a moment. Then he slammed the drawer shut, turned to me and said, “Don’t ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you’re alive is a special occasion.”

I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I helped him and my niece attend to all the sad chores that follow an unexpected death. I thought about them on the plane returning to California from the Midwestern town where my sister’s family lives. I thought about all the things that she hadn’t seen or heard or done. I thought about the things that she had done without realizing that they were special.

I’m still thinking about his words, and they’ve changed my life. I’m reading more and dusting less. I’m sitting on the deck and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I’m spending more time with my family and friends and less time in committee meetings.

Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experience to savor, not endure. I’m trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them. I’m not “saving” anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event, such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia blossom. I wear my good blazer to the market if I like it. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries without wincing.

I’m not saving my good perfume for special parties; clerks in hardware stores and tellers in banks have noses that function as well as my party-going friends. “Someday” and “one of these days” are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it’s worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now.

I’m not sure what my sister would’ve done had she known that she wouldn’t be here for the tomorrow we all take for granted. I think she would have called family members and a few close friends. She might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think she would have gone out for a Chinese dinner, her favorite food. I’m guessing – I’ll never know.

It’s those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew that my hours were limited. Angry because I put off seeing good friends whom I was going to get in touch with – someday. Angry because I hadn’t written certain letters that I intended to write – one of these days. Angry and sorry that I didn’t tell my husband often enough how much I truly love them.

I’m trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special. Every day, every minute, every breath truly is a gift from God.

By Ann Wells, Los Angeles Times
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
February 23, 2003

I just wanted to get the day over with and go down to Smokey’s. Sneaking a look at my watch, I saw the time, 1655. Five minutes to go before the cemetery gates are closed for the day. Full dress was hot in the August sun. Oklahoma summertime was as bad as ever–the heat and humidity at the same level – both too high.

I saw the car pull into the drive, ’69 or ’70 model Cadillac De ville, looked factory-new. It pulled into the parking lot at a snail’s pace. An old woman got out so slow I thought she was paralyzed; she had a cane and a sheaf of flowers–about four or five bunches as best I could tell.

I couldn’t help myself. The thought came unwanted, and left a slightly bitter taste: ‘She’s going to spend an hour, and for this old soldier, my hip hurts like hell and I’m ready to get out of here right now!’ But for this day, my duty was to assist anyone coming in.

Kevin would lock the ‘In’ gate and if I could hurry the old biddy along, we might make it to Smokey’s in time.

I broke post attention. My hip made gritty noises when I took the first step and the pain went up a notch. I must have made a real military sight: middle-aged man with a small pot gut and half a limp, in marine full-dress uniform, which had lost its razor crease about thirty minutes after I began the watch at the cemetery.

I stopped in front of her, halfway up the walk. She looked up at me with an old woman’s squint.

‘Ma’am, may I assist you in any way?’ 

I asked.

She took long enough to answer. 

’Yes, son. Can you carry these flowers? I seem to be moving a tad slow these days.’

‘My pleasure, ma’am.’ Well, it wasn’t too much of a lie.

She looked again. ‘Marine, where were you stationed?’

‘Vietnam, ma’am… Ground-pounder. ’69 to ’71.’

She looked at me closer. ‘Wounded in action, I see. Well done, Marine. I’ll be as quick as I can.’

I lied a little bigger: ‘No hurry, ma’am.’

She smiled and winked at me. ‘Son, I’m 85-years-old and I can tell a lie from a long way off. Let’s get this done. Might be the last time I can do this. My name’s Joanne Wieserman, and I’ve a few Marines I’d like to see one more time.’

‘Yes, ma ‘am. At your service.’

She headed for the World War I section, stopping at a stone. She picked one of the flowers out of my arm and laid it on top of the stone. She murmured something I couldn’t quite make out. The name on the marble was Donald S. Davidson, USMC: France 1918.

She turned away and made a straight line for the World War II section, stopping at one stone. I saw a tear slowly tracking its way down her cheek. She put a bunch on a stone; the name was Stephen X.Davidson, USMC, 1943. 

She went up the row a ways and laid another bunch on a stone, Stanley J. Wieserman, USMC, 1944. 

She paused for a second.

‘Two more, son, and we’ll be done’

I almost didn’t say anything, but, ‘Yes, ma’am. Take your time.’

She looked confused. ‘Where’s the Vietnam section, son? I seem to have lost my way.’

I pointed with my chin. ‘That way, ma’am.’

‘Oh!’ she chuckled quietly. ‘Son, me and old age ain’t too friendly.’

She headed down the walk I’d pointed at. She stopped at a couple of stones before she found the ones she wanted. She placed a bunch on Larry Wieserman, USMC, 1968, and the last on Darrel Wieserman, USMC, 1970. She stood there and murmured a few words I still couldn’t make out.

‘OK, son, I’m finished. Get me back to my car and you can go home.’

Yes, ma’am. If I may ask, were those your kinfolk?’

She paused. ‘Yes, Donald Davidson was my father, Stephen was my uncle, Stanley was my husband,Larry and Darrel were our sons. All killed in action, all marines.’

She stopped. Whether she had finished, or couldn’t finish, I don’t know. She made her way to her car, slowly and painfully. 
I waited for a polite distance to come between us and then double-timed it over to Kevin, waiting by the car.

‘Get to the ‘Out’ gate quick. I have something I’ve got to do.’

Kevin started to say something, but saw the look I gave him. He broke the rules to get us there down the service road. We beat her. She hadn’t made it around the rotunda yet.

‘Kevin, stand at attention next to the gatepost. Follow my lead.’ I humped it across the drive to the other post.

When the Cadillac came puttering around from the hedges and began the short straight traverse to the gate, I called in my best gunny’s voice: ‘Tehen Hut! Present Haaaarms!’

I have to hand it to Kevin; he never blinked an eye – full dress attention and a salute that would make his DI proud.

She drove through that gate with two old worn-out soldiers giving her a send-off she deserved, for service rendered to her country, and for knowing duty, honor and sacrifice.

I am not sure, but I think I saw a salute returned from that Cadillac.

Author Unknown - Please comment if you know the author
 so credit can be given
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
February 23, 1995

A couple in their nineties are both having problems remembering things.

They decide to go to the doctor for a checkup. The doctor tells them that they’re physically okay, but they might want to start writing things down to help them remember.

Later that night while watching TV, the old man gets up from his chair.

His wife asks, “Where are you going?”

“To the kitchen,” he replies.

“Will you get me a bowl of ice cream?”

“Sure.”

“Don’t you think you should write it down so you can remember it?” she asks.

“No, I can remember it.”

“Well, I’d like some strawberries on top, too. You’d better write it down, because you know you’ll forget it.”

He says, “I can remember that! You want a bowl of ice cream with strawberries.”

“I’d also like whipped cream. I’m certain you’ll forget that, so you’d better write it down!” she retorts.

Irritated, he says, “I don’t need to write it down, I can remember it! Leave me alone! Ice cream with strawberries and whipped cream — I got it, for goodness sake!” Then he grumbles into the kitchen.

After about 20 minutes the old man returns from the kitchen and hands his wife a plate of bacon and eggs.

She stares at the plate for a moment and says… “Where’s my toast?

Author Unknown - Please comment if you know the author
 so credit can be given
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