Friday, September 25, 2009

Q + Q + MA = C

Q + Q + MA = C

where Q is the Quality of service rendered,

Q is the Quantity of service rendered,

MA is the Mental Attitude in which it is rendered, and

C is your Compensation.

"Compensation" here means all the things that come into your life:

school, job, money, joy, harmony with relationships, community status, a sense of tolerance, vacation, respect and responsibility, material possessions, perseverance, or "anything" else worthwhile that you seek.

- Napoleon Hill,

"Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude"

The importance of ATTITUDE

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of Attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.

It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than success, than whatother people think or say or do.

It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill.

It will make or break a company, an organization, a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the Attitude we will embrace for that day.

We cannot change the past.

We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.

We cannot change the inevitable.

The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our Attitude.

I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you.

We are in charge of our Attitudes.

- Charles Swindoll

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Portrait of a Friend

I can't give solutions to all of life's problems, doubts, or fears. But I can listen to you, and together we will search for answers.

I can't change your past with all it's heartache and pain, nor the future with its untold stories. But I can be there now when you need me to care.

I can't keep your feet from stumbling. I can only offer my hand that you may grasp it and not fall.

Your joys, triumphs, successes, and happiness are not mine; Yet I can share in your laughter.

Your decisions in life are not mine to make, nor to judge; I can only support you, encourage you, and help you when you ask.

I can't prevent you from falling away from friendship, from your values, from me. I can only pray for you, talk to you and wait for you.

I can't give you boundaries which I might want to determine for you, But I can give you the room to change, room to grow, room to be yourself.

I can't keep your heart from breaking and hurting, But I can cry with you and help you pick up the pieces and put them back in place.

I can't tell you who you are. I can only love you as your friend.

How To Get Along With People

1. Keep skid chains on your tongue; always say less than you think. Cultivate a low, persuasive voice. How you say it counts more than what you say.

2. Make promises sparingly, and keep them faithfully, no matter what it costs.

3. Never let an opportunity pass to say a kind and encouraging word to or about somebody. Praise good work, regardless of who did it. If criticism is needed, criticize helpfully, never spitefully.

4. Be interested in others, their pursuits, their work, their homes and families. Make merry with those who rejoice; with those who weep, mourn. Let everyone you meet, however humble, feel that you regard him as a person of importance.

5. Be cheerful. Don't burden or depress those around you by dwelling on your minor aches and pains and small disappointments. Remember, everyone is carrying some kind of a load.

6. Keep an open mind. Discuss but don't argue. It is a mark of a superior mind to be able to disagree without being disagreeable.

7. Let your virtues speak for themselves. Refuse to talk of another's vices. Discourage gossip. It is a waste of valuable time and can be extremely destructive.

8. Be careful of another's feelings. Wit and humor at the other person's expense are rarely worth it and may hurt when least expected.

9. Pay no attention to ill-natured remarks about you. Remember, the person who carried the message may not be the most accurate reporter in the world. Simply live so that nobody will believe them. Disordered nerves and bad digestion are a common cause of backbiting.

10. Don't be too anxious about the credit due you. Do your best, and be patient. Forget about yourself, and let others "remember." Success is much sweeter that way.

Ann Landers

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Secret of success

If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person's point of view and see things from his angle, as well as from your own.

Setbacks and failures

Everyone in the world is set back or defeated in one area of life or another.

Some fall away from their high ideals; others bemoan their failure to marry or having married, lament because the state failed to realize all its hopes and promises; others experience a decline of virtue, a gradual slipping away into mediocrity, or a slavery to bad habits.

Others are subjected to weariness, a failure of health or economic ruin.

All these disappointments are voiced in the mournful regret: "If I only had my life to live over again!"

But it is of the utmost importance that, in facing our defeats and failures, we shall never yield to discouragement; for discouragement, from an introspective point of view, is the result of wounded self-love and is therefore a form of pride.

- Floyd Maxwell

16 Sep: Quote for the Day

That you are able to recognize problems as such, means you have already in some ways transcended them.

Take heart.

You are better than anything that could bring you down.

- Ralph Marston

The Story Teller - a Change In Attitude, 3rd and Final Chapter

A good ending to a great story.

The real moral of this story is this: Be aware of any signs that you're an alcoholic, and if you are, seek help. Too much of anything never did a good thing for anyone.

Chapter Three

Bruce started working on one of his cases as soon as he got to the office. He kept watching the clock and the hands seemed to be moving in super slow motion. His mind kept drifting to the words spoken by the old man. Bruce couldn't let that happen to him and his children.

About 1 o'clock, Bruce felt like he had been at the office for 20 hours, he picked up his phone and dialed Beth's cell phone. Beth answered on the second ring.

"Beth, I love you and I'm sorry," he blurted out.
"What?" was all she could think of to say.
"Beth, I'm sorry for the way that I've been treating you for so long and I just want you to know that I love you and I want to know if you could find it in your heart to forgive me, even if it's only a little, and give me a chance to make it up to you."
The words in her heart just wouldn't come out of her.

"I'd like to ask mywife for a date tonight. You pick the place and and the time. All I ask is that you make it someplace special because I've got a lot to make up to you for. I've been a real bastard for a long time. Tell the kids to order a pizza or whatever else they want to eat. I want this night to be ours."

"Bruce, what... are you... did something happen?"

"I'm fine. I think that I'm finally coming to my senses and relearning what a wonderful woman that I have. I just hope that I haven't lost you already."
"You haven't," she said in such a soft voice that he almost didn't hear her.
"I'll drop my briefcase off as soon as I get home and we'll leave for the restaurant. Make the reservations for us please."

All she could say was, "Yes."
"I love you," he said and then hung up the phone.
Beth continued to hold the phone to her ear after Bruce had hung up until the recording came on, "If you want to make a call, please hang up and dial again."
She softly hung up the phone and a smile came to her lips. She picked the phone up again and called the beauty shop that she always went to and made an emergency appointment. Beth was half way to the beauty shop when she realized that she hadn't left the kids a note about where she was and the fact that she and Bruce were going out on a date tonight."
Beth walked into the shop with a bounce in her step. The beautician that regularly worked on her hair stood up and walked to the empty station. And waited while Beth took off her coat and sat down.

"Do you want me to do it regular, Mrs. J?"
Beth smiled at her reflection in the mirror, "Do it special Brenda. I've got a date tonight."
Brenda arced her eyebrows but Beth didn't offer any more information. Beth motioned to the manicurist and the young girl brought her tray over and began working on Beth's fingernails. While Brenda was setting her hair she dialed information and got the number of the new restaurant that her friends had been raving about. Beth had to plead with the reservation clerk to get a table for tonight but she got the reservations.
Brenda finished up at the beauty shop and then shopped for a nice dress for her date. She finally got home about five o'clock. Her kids were in the kitchen talking over a Coke; actually they were bickering over a Coke.
"Your Dad and I are going out on a date tonight. Order whatever you want to eat tonight. The carryout menus are in the top drawer in the kitchen," she said as she walked past the kids and up to the bathroom with a smile on her face.
Beth's daughter looked at her brother with a funny look on her face, "A date? I really doubt that she's going on a date with Dad. Do you think she's got a lover?"
Her brother gave a shrug that gave her the impression that he really didn't give a darn one way or another.
Beth eased herself into the bath water that was slightly too hot. It took several minutes before she could become accustomed to it. She leaned back and began to think about her marriage to Bruce Jamison and how they were still so much in love but so close to a divorce.

When had they given up on the marriage?

What had driven a wedge between them?

What was behind Bruce's phone call earlier?

Beth soaked in the water until she felt it beginning to cool. She washed and then rinsed herself. She walked into the bedroom from the master bath and began to touch up her hair. The bouffant shower cap had only messed up her hair a little and she soon had it perfect again. She looked at her watch.

Bruce would be home in about two hours. She put on her sexiest bra and panties set and set her new dress on the bed. She cut the labels off of it and held it up against her. She smiled, it would be perfect if Bruce was really trying to change.
Beth slipped the dress over her her head and let it drop onto her body. She turned a bit and smiled. She still had a figure that got admiring glances from men that passed her on the street. A knock on the door startled her.
Beth opened the door and saw her daughter holding a bunch of red roses,"Someone sent you flowers Mom."
Beth took them from her daughter and opened the card. The roses were from Bruce and the card just said, I Love You.
Beth saw that her daughter was looking at her funny, "Are you really going out on a date with Dad?"
"Yes, Honey. Please put these in a vase for me and put them in the entry for me so that your father will see them as soon as he gets home."
"Whatever," her daughter said as she took the flowers and began to walk downstairs.
Beth pulled out a pair of pantyhose from her lingerie drawer. She looked at them for a minute before she pushed them back in the drawer. She rooted through the drawer until she found a new pair of thigh high hose. She wanted to feel pretty tonight for Bruce.
Beth was just starting down the stairs when Bruce walked in the front door.

He watched her with a smile on his face as she descended the stairs. His eyes started to tear when he thought about how badly he had treated this magnificent woman the past few years.
As she walked to him he gathered her in his arms and kissed her. When they broke the kiss he murmured, "My God you are beautiful."
At the top of the stairs their daughter turned and headed for her bedroom muttering, "Gawd, give me a break."
Bruce helped her on with her coat, hollered goodbye to the kids and opened the front door for her. He held her arm as they walked to the car. Beth stood as he opened the car door and then helped her into the car.
Bruce walked around the car and got behind the wheel. He turned the key and started the car. He paused and then turned the car off and turned to her.
"Beth, something happened today. I can't really explain it. I suddenly realized just what a jerk that I've been for quite a while now. I'm drinking way too much. I've withdrawn into myself and I don't include you into my life anymore.

It just dawned on me today that we rarely talk anymore.

I've been doing a lot of thinking today and I want to get back the wonderful woman that I married.

I just hope that I haven't lost you forever, because I love you as much as I did the day we married."
Beth patted him on the arm, "You haven't lost me. You'd better drive. Our reservations are for seven thirty."
Bruce started the car and pulled out of the driveway. He reached out and took Beth's hand and squeezed it gently. She smiled at him and slid over and sat next to him and held his arm.
Bruce pulled into the restaurant parking lot and up to the front door. The valet ran to open the door for Beth and helped her out of the car. Brucewalked around the car and took her arm.
They were seated at their table almost immediately and when the server greeted them Bruce ordered a cup of coffee for him and Beth asked for the same. Bruce asked if they could have a few minutes to talk before the server took their order.
After they had their coffee in front of them and the server left, Bruce looked into her eyes, "Beth, I don't know why I just started to realize how bad I've been treating you the past few years. I haven't been able to get any work done today because I've been so ashamed of how much of a jerk that I've been. You should have kicked me in the balls and snapped me out of it."
Beth looked down into her coffee cup, "I've reached out to you so many times. You just seemed like you weren't really interested in me anymore.What made you pull away from me?"
Bruce looked away before he turned back. Beth saw he had tears in his eyes,"I've just felt that my life is not what I thought it would be. I feel like I'm trapped in a cage and my life will be the exactly the same ten years from now that it is today. Do you remember when I passed the bar? I was going to work for a few years until I got a little money and I could afford to open my own office. Now I spend my days trying to keep CEO's out of jail, trying to keep companies from being sued for unscrupulous business practices and trying to find legal or semi-legal ways that companies can get more money from their customers. I feel like I'm an accomplice to something unholy."
"Why don't you quit and open your own company in town here?" Beth asked,"You can do real estate title work, criminal law, anything you want."
Bruce looked at her, "I've thought about it. We're used to a life style that I doubt we would want to let go. The kids are planning on college and it would be a while before I started bringing in enough money to support us."
Beth started to smile, "You never did care to know about how we were doing financially. We have over eight hundred thousand in stocks, a healthy IRA, a substantial savings account and our house was paid off last year. You've never asked how my business was doing because you always considered yourself the bread winner in this family. I'm here to tell you that I'm doing very well. I can support this family until you get on your feet."

Beth saw that he was so shocked that he couldn't respond to her, "Now Mister Jamison, what I would suggest is that if you really feel that way, you go towork tomorrow and give them thirty days notice. That will give you time toc lean up any work that really needs your input and it will give the firm time to assign work that they won't need you for. I'll look for a building that will be big enough for your offices and mine and I'll do the interiors and have them ready for you to open your office as soon as you become self-employed. "
Bruce still hadn't said anything so Beth continued, "That is if you want to save this marriage and your family.

If you're worried about me having to support you, don't.

I look on it as an investment. I don't want to lose you."
Bruce reached over and took her hand and squeezed it, "You've got a deal. I'll be looking forward to moving into my new office in thirty days."
The server came to take their order and Bruce asked what the two best things on the menu were. The young man rattled off the attributes of two dishes that were the specials of the day and Bruce looked at Beth. She nodded and Bruce ordered both dishes.

"Do you want to do like we did when we first got married, share some of each dish?"

Beth nodded, "You'd better eat hearty. I'd also suggest that you call in sick tomorrow. You're not going to get much sleep tonight."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Is it important how many friends you have?

My father once told me he dissapproved of how much time I spent with my friends. I suppose I'm lucky that I have a number of REAL friends. They have stuck with me even though through my bad times (more than I can remember, they saved me) and actually helped me.
I don't think it's really the number of friends you have, but how much of a friend YOU are to them.
Here's a poem for you to ponder.

An old man turned to me and asked,
"How many friends have you?"
"Why, ten or twenty friends have I,"
And I named off just a few.

He smiled a knowing smile at me
And sadly shook his head.
"How lucky you must be
To have so many friends," he said.

"But think of what you're saying.
There's so much that you don't know!
A friend is just not someone
To whom you say "Hello"!"

"A friend's a tender shoulder
On which to softly cry,
A well to pour your troubles down
And raise your spirits high.

A friend's a hand to pull you up
From darkness and despair,
When all your other so-called "friends"
Have helped to put you there!

A true friend is an ally
Who can't be moved or bought,
A voice to keep your name alive
When others have forgot.

But most of all a friend's a heart,
A strong and sturdy wall,
For from the hearts of friends there comes
The greatest love of all!

So think of what I've spoken,
For every word is true.
And answer once again, my child,
How many friends have you?"

And then he stood and faced me,
Awaiting my reply.
I smiled at him and answered,
"At least ONE friend have I!"

Thanks for being MY FRIEND!

The Story Teller - a Change In Attitude, part 2 of Chapter 2

The man nodded his head toward the young couple,

"I was just commenting on young love. They seem to be very much in love. I doubt if they know that anyone else is in the restaurant."
Beth looked over at the couple and gave the man a weak smile. She thought to herself that it would be great if their love could remain as bright in the future as it apparently was today. She wondered to herself if all love dimmed with time. She wondered if it ever became so dim that it wasn't worth trying to relight the spark.
"My daughter and her husband were once that much in love," the old man said snapping Beth back into the present.
Beth smiled and looked down at her glass. Her table-mate was beginning to go where Beth didn't want to go. There was a period of silence as the old man began to take a sip of his coffee.
"Do you and your wife live in the city?" Beth asked to turn the conversation to a place where she would feel more comfortable.
"No, my wife passed on several years ago. I'm afraid that she worried about our daughter so much that she neglected her own needs."
"I'm sorry," Beth said, "Is your daughter alright now... I mean are she and her husband okay now?"
As soon as the words were out of her mouth she wished that she hadn't said them. Beth wished that there had been other seats open. She didn't really want company today.
"No, they've gone their separate ways. They stayed together for years leading separate lives. They both gave up on the marriage years before they called it quits. It was just little things that began to eat on them and the little things would fester until they became large issues. They both retreated into themselves and they both used alcohol as a crutch."
Beth looked around the restaurant and saw that no one was looking their way. She tried to take another sip of her drink and found that it was empty. She put the glass down.
"Sometimes a marriage just can't be saved," Beth said.
"I'm afraid that they didn't really try to save it very hard," the old man continued,

"like so many other coupes they lost the will to communicate with each other. I guess they expected each other to instinctively know what the other was thinking or needed. The alcohol gave them an excuse to avoid talking out their problems."
Beth began to think of her own marriage. She and Bruce rarely had any conversation except to gripe about something one or the other had said or some imagined slight by one of them. It suddenly hit her that she and Bruce were each living their own lives while living in the same house.

Bruce hadn't talked about his work in several years.

She never talked to Bruce about her work.

"I've never been able to figure why couples stop talking to each other," the old man said, "it just seems so natural to talk to each other and find outhow your spouse's day went. Has our world gotten so fast that we haven't the time to talk to each other anymore? How can couples forget the qualities that brought them together in the first place?

We spend so much time worrying about the small things that we forget to live."

"Did your daughter ever remarry?" Beth asked.
"No. I'm afraid that my daughter has become a bitter woman. She looks for the faults in every man that she meets and she always seems to find some flaw in the man that she feels she could never put up with. She spends her evenings watching television with a drink in her hand. I don't know whatever happened to her ex-husband. The last time I saw him was at a sales conference in Dallas. He was so drunk that he didn't even recognize me. People were going out of their way to avoid him. I've never understood why some people feel that alcohol will numb the pain that they feel."
Beth didn't say anything for a while. She knew that if she gave the old man any clue to what her marriage was like she would start crying. The old man's words were hitting her right in the gut. She and Bruce were just a short way from hating each other. She began to wonder when her marriage would end; they just couldn't go on like this. She was very unhappy and she knew that Bruce was too.

She became aware that the old man was saying something to her, "I'm sorry.My mind was beginning to wander. What did you say?"
"I said that your husband is a very lucky man. You are obviously very intelligent, you carry yourself with confidence and you're very beautiful. He's a lucky man indeed."
Tears came to Beth's eyes, "I'm afraid that he doesn't feel that way. We're just two people that are living in the same house. I don't know why we even live together anymore."
"Did you love each other once?" the man asked.
Beth nodded her head. If she had tried to talk she would have started to sob. She still loved Bruce but she couldn't stand the way they had grown apart. She wanted him around but she was uncomfortable being around him.They never discussed anything anymore.
The old man put his hand over hers. "Do you talk to each other anymore?"
Beth shook her head.
"Please try to talk to him," the old man continued, "Some men try to keep all of their troubles hidden inside of them. They seem to have to prove to the woman that they can conquer anything. I guess that it's a macho thing. Men often forget that a woman needs to talk to her mate and feel a closeness to him. Promise me that you'll try to talk to him. See if there's still a spark of love that you get reignited. I can see in your eyes that you still love him but the pain that you have caused each other is causing you both to withdraw into yourselves."
Beth stood up with tears in her eyes, "Please excuse me. I'll be back."
She hurried to the ladies room before she started sobbing. In the ladies room she stood for a long time staring into the mirror at her reflection.When the tears stopped she fixed her makeup and went back into the restaurant.
As she neared her table she saw that the chair that the old man had been sitting in was empty. The chair was pushed in as if no one had been there.
The waitress came to the table, "Are you ready to order now?"
Beth looked up at the pleasant woman standing next to her, "What happened to the man that was sitting with me?"
The waitress put her hand on Beth's shoulder, "Are you driving today? ShouldI bring you a coffee? You've been sitting here alone since you came in. How about I get you a coffee."
The waitress left and soon came back with a coffee. Beth ordered a turkeyclub sandwich. While her food was being prepared she tried to think about the old man. He was real, she knew that. Maybe others couldn't see him, but Beth knew that she and the old man had talked.
When her sandwich came she just picked at it and thought about what the old man had said. Beth and Bruce had to talk. They had too many years invested in their marriage to just let it die. They had two fine children to raise and prepare for life.

A smile came to Beth's lips.

Prepare her children for their future;

Beth and Bruce weren't doing such a great job themselves.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Story to make you smile

As the bus slowed down at the crowded bus stop, the bus conductor leaned from the platform andcalled out "Six only!"

The bus stopped.

He counted out six passengers, rang the bell, and then, as the bus moved off, called to those left behind:

"So sorry, plenty of room in my heart -- but the bus is full."

He left behind a row of smiling faces.

It's not what you do; it's the way that you do it.

- Francis Gay

Thought for today

Everything works out in the end.

If it hasn't worked out, it's not the end.

The Story Teller - Part 1 of Chapter 2

Here's Chapter 2, the first part.

Chapter Two

Beth sat at the table in the restaurant looking at the lunch menu.

She would be eating alone today. Meg had called a couple of minutes ago and said that she had to get one of her kids from school. The school nurse had called and said that the child had been throwing up and was running a slight fever. Beth was glad that her children were older and had grown out of those mysterious childhood sicknesses that began quickly and ended just as quick.
She finished her Vodka and orange juice and motioned for the waitress that was passing her table to refresh her drink. This would be her last drink until after dinner. No sense tempting fate and getting a DUI.

After Bruce went into his study she often had a couple of drinks to relax her while she watched TV. She knew that Bruce was drinking as he worked; she could smell it when he came to bed even though he had a breath mint in his mouth when he entered the bedroom.

Her eyes began to wonder around the room. She watched a young couple sitting at a booth. They were obviously in love. They both sat on the same side ofthe booth and they held hands and smiled at each other constantly. They were oblivious to all of the other diners. Beth's breath caught in her throat when she remembered that she and Bruce used to be like that.
Beth stared at her drink.

What had happened to the two of them?

Bruce made very good money and Beth had her own business as an interior designer. They had always been inseparable. They used to go on vacations to exotic places, explored new places in New England and took pride in their home. Their house was always full of friends and the walls vibrated with laughter. She couldn't remember when their marriage had become such a chore. It had been a long time since any friends had stopped by. Beth couldn't remember when they held the last party at the house. Meg was her only friend and Meg took pains to avoid being in the house when Bruce was home. Meg said that she couldn't stand the constant bickering between Beth and Bruce.

She was concentrating on the liquid in the bottom of her glass and became aware that someone close to her was talking. She looked up to see an older man smiling at her. The man had said something that she hadn't heard; at least she didn't think she did.

"I'm sorry," Beth said, "I didn't hear what you said."

"It seems that there's a lunch-time rush today," the old man said softly,"There are no seats left. Would you mind terribly if I sat at your table? I'm only going to have a coffee. I've been shopping and my legs are protesting loudly."

Beth smiled and motioned for the man to sit down. She saw that his hair was a striking silver that reminded her of Donald Sutherland's hair. Not a hair was out of place. Beth acknowledged his thank you as the waitress came to the table. The man ordered his coffee and the waitress left; leaving them alone at the table.

"Please don't think that I am being forward but I must say that you are a very beautiful woman," the old man said pleasantly.

Beth thanked him and took another sip of her drink. Right now she didn't feel very beautiful. She had just come from a client's house. The job was complete and she was making a courtesy call to ensure that everything was to the client's satisfaction. Throughout the project there had been flirtations and innuendos between the two of them. Beth was tempted to follow through with the client's veiled suggestions but she got cold feet.

She had never been unfaithful to Bruce and she didn't know if she ever could be unfaithful to him. Her exit from the upscale residence had been tense and it made Beth uneasy that she had acted so unprofessionally with a client.

She heard the old man say something, "I'm sorry. My mind was wandering. Whatdid you say?"

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Story Teller - Part 2 of Chapter 1


Bruce heard words but he didn't really hear them until he realized the the man sitting next to him was talking to him, "Uh, I'm sorry. I didn't hear you."

The man smiled slightly and nodded toward the front of the train, "That woman, sitting at the front of the car reminds me of a woman that I knew many years ago. She was the wife of a friend of mine. That woman has the same inner beauty that my friend's wife had."

Bruce gave the man a weak smile and turned to look out of the window; hoping that the man wouldn't continue talking. He just didn't feel like talking to a stranger this morning.
Bruce had never talked to the woman that the old man had indicated but he had heard someone call her Jennifer once so he figured that was her name. He had heard someone talking to her about one of the fashion houses so he thought that she might be in the fashion industry.
"Are you married?" the man asked.
Bruce turned to look at the man, "Yes, two children."
He hoped that the additional information about his two children would give the man all of the information that the man wanted to hear about Bruce.Bruce wondered where the man got on the train. He had never seen the man before.
"Ah yes, children," the man continued, "God's reward for putting up with the trials and troubles of life. Man's grasp on immortality. "
"My friend and his wife," the old man continued, "oh it was so many years ago, they were so much in love. It was like God made Tom and Sarah for each other and that no one else in the world would have suited either of them.I'm afraid that if they hadn't found each other that they both would have remained unmarried."
Bruce smiled politely and looked out of the window again.
He realized that the man was talking again, "They had two children. They were smart as they could be. Everyone knew that those two children would rule the world one day. They were two of the most pleasant children that ever walked the earth. Teachers used to cry when the children moved to the next grade. Circumstances kept them from reaching their full potential though."
Before Bruce realized that he was walking into the man's trap he asked,"What happened to them?"
"Heredity happened. You see, Tom's father was an alcoholic. The drinking and the weekend beatings drove Tom's mother off when he was eight. His father transferred the beatings to Tom after the mother was gone. Tom withdrew into himself and never told anyone about the drinking and beatings. He quickly found that it would be best if he avoided having friends over to his house. Soon he avoided making friends completely. Tom took every opportunity to stay out of the house and away from his father.
Tom was the type of person that didn't have to study. He got straight A's in every class. If ever anyone was meant to go to college it was Tom. It just wasn't to be though. Tom ran away from home at sixteen, lied about his age and joined the Army. He was sent to Korea and he won several medals. He was wounded and spent time in the hospital in Arizona."
Bruce had turned to listen to the man's story, "No, I meant what happened to the children you were talking about?"
The man continued as if Bruce had never spoken, "It was in Arizona that Tom met his future wife. Sarah had been raised by her father. Her mother had been killed in an automobile accident when Sarah was an infant. Sarah's father was a fine upstanding man until Sarah started to blossom out as a woman. He would only drink once or twice a year but on those few occasion she would abuse her shamefully. He was very repentant when he sobered up. He would cry for weeks after it happened and apologize to her over and over, but the damage had already been done to Sarah's soul. Sarah began to drink when she was in high school. She never got drunk and she never drank more than one or two at first. She got into casual sex, searching for the love that she never found at home. When she met Tom she felt that she had met the man of her dreams. He was quiet and didn't drink much and he loved her. Before too long she found out she was pregnant with Tom's child. Sarah's father signed the consent form allowing them to be married."
The man paused, "I'm sorry. I'm bending your ear. Please excuse the ramblings of an old man."
Bruce smiled and turned to the window. He could fill in the rest of the story for himself.
After a few minutes Bruce turned to the man, "What happened to Tom and Sarah's children?"
"Their first born was a boy. He was a handsome boy from the minute he was born. All you had to do was look at that boy and you knew he was destined for great things. They named him Adam. Tom got out of the Army and started to work to support his young family. Without a high school diploma all he could find was low paying jobs and they didn't usually last long. Soon a daughter was born and they named her Mary after Sarah's mother. As is often the case with people that have parents like he had, Tom felt that he had been cheated by not being able to lead a normal life and get the education that he had the brains for. He and Sarah began to drink more often and sometimes the children would go unattended for several days. Soon Tom started to drink until he got drunk and then he would vent his frustration on Sarah. Sarah put up with the beatings because she loved Tom and because he was her drinking partner.
The noise from the train rails became louder. Bruce's mind wandered to his own childhood and, in his mind's eye, he saw his father beating his mother in a drunken rage. Bruce would hide because he knew that if his father saw him, some of the beatings would be his.
The old man continued, "When Mary was about four, Sarah disappeared. Tom never looked for her. He convinced the county somehow that he couldn't work because he had to look after the children and he went on welfare. A lot ofthe welfare check went to buy alcohol for Tom and he supplemented his check by burglarizing homes in the more affluent sections of town. Three years after Sarah had disappeared she showed up at Tom's front door again. She wasn't the beautiful woman that she once was. She was hooked on heroin and alcohol. She had been working as a prostitute for two years. She came back to Tom because she had no where else to go. She had advanced ovarian cancer.Tom took her in and she lived with him for about a year before she died. Poor Tom went off the deep end. The children had to fend for themselves after that."
The old man began to look off into the distance and Bruce asked, "Did the kids make it?'
The old man continued, "Adam fell in with a gang. Alcohol became a big thing in his life too. When he was fifteen he tried to hold up a convenience store and killed the clerk. The clerk was reaching for the money and Adam thought that he was reaching for a gun. Adam shot the clerk twice in the head. The police picked Adam up after they viewed the surveillance tapes. He's sitting on death row right now."
"What about Mary? Did she turn out OK?"
The old man sighed, "Mary's nude body was found in a ravine. She had been working as a prostitute. She had been raped and shot. The animals had started to eat her dead body."
Bruce shuddered, "So many lives destroyed."
The old man nodded, "Children of alcoholics usually wind up as adults with many mental problems."
Bruce turned his face to the window so that the old man couldn't see his tears. He began to examine his own life and he saw that he was continuing the cycle. He wondered what damage he had already done to his own children.His son was already withdrawn and didn't have many friends and his daughter stayed in her room most of the time with her door closed. Both of his children rarely spoke to him unless Bruce initiated the conversation.
Beth's face came before his eyes. Bruce and Beth argued constantly. Lately he was beginning to wonder what he ever saw in her. At times he suspected that she had a lover. They had become like two strangers living under thesame roof. He sobbed very softly; he still loved Beth. Was there any way to undo the mess that they had created?
Bruce turned to the old man. The seat next to him was empty. He turned and looked toward the back of the train but the old man was not in sight.
Bruce turned to the man sitting on the aisle seat opposite his seat, "What happened to the man that I was talking to?"
The man looked surprised for a second and then began to grin, "You must havebeen dreaming. There hasn't been anyone in that seat since you got on. Are you done with your paper?"
Bruce handed the man his paper. He turned to the window as the train pulled into the station. He saw the sign designating the town's name. He turned to get another look at the sign before it was out of sight. It was the second station on the way to New York City; the station after the one where Bruce started and ended his trip to the city every day... The station was only twelve miles from where he got on. The train had only been traveling a few minutes. That couldn't be! Bruce and the old man had been talking much longer than that!

Coming soon...........Chapter 2