Monday, August 22, 2016

The Day Mrs. Thompson Quick Teaching

Mrs. Thompson stood in front of her fifth grade class on the first day of school and told a lie, a big lie - the biggest lie she had ever told as she welcomed the students.  She said that she would treat all the students the same.  But she knew there was one student she would not treat the same - his name was Teddy Stoddard.

The school district had hired Ms. Thompson the year before and she couldn't help but notice Teddy’s behavior throughout the last year.  He was a known problem child with a lousy academic record. He didn’t play well with other children; his clothes were always a mess; everyday he looked like he needed a bath, and he had a bad attitude regarding everything.

Throughout the beginning weeks of the semester, Mrs. Thompson delighted in marking Teddy’s papers with a broad red pen and placing big bold 'X's on all his wrong answers.  She smiled every time she put a large 'F' at the top of his papers as she wanted the other students in class to be able to see his grade when she handed them out.

Unfortunately school policy required every teacher to review the academic records of their students during the first week of December.  Mrs. Thompson held Teddy's file off until last.  When she finally sat down to review his file, she was taken aback.  Teddy’s first grade teacher had written, "Teddy is a bright child who does neat work and has excellent classroom manners. He is a joy to have in my class - I will miss him next year."

His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an above average student who is well liked by his classmates. He has been having trouble lately at home because of his mother’s illness and life at home is really a struggle for Teddy." 

His third grade teacher wrote, "His mother's recent death has been very hard on Teddy.  He tries hard to do his best, but his father doesn't show much interest in him and I believe his home life is going to be negatively impacted by these events."

Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a withdrawn child who doesn’t show much interest in school.  He has very few friends, often comes to class unprepared and is frequently disruptive in class.  He generally wears dirty clothes and looks like a mess."

Mrs. Thompson now felt ashamed of her behavior. She felt even worse a few weeks later when her students all brought in their Christmas presents for her.  All were wrapped in brightly colored holiday papers and tied with fancy ribbons except for one. Teddy's was gift was clumsily wrapped in brown paper from a grocery bag and it had no ribbon.  Mrs. Thompson decided to open Teddy’s present first.  Many of the children laughed when they saw a small rhinestone bracelet with several stones missing and an old bottle of perfume which was barely one 1/4 full; but Mrs. Thompson quickly stifled their laughter by commenting on how beautiful the bracelet was as she put in on.  She then dabbed some of the perfume on each of her wrist, inhaled deeply and said it smells wonderful Teddy – Thank You so much for this lovely gift.

Before he left class that afternoon, Teddy slowly walked up to Mrs. Thompson's desk, leaned in and said, "I just want you to know you smell just like my Mom use to."  Then he quickly ran out of the classroom.  When all the other students left, Mrs. Thompson put her head down at the desk and cried. This was the day she vowed to quit teaching.  Never again she said would she teach her students reading, writing or arithmetic, instead she would start teaching children how to live.

The following Monday morning she began to pay special attention to Teddy in class.  As she worked with him, his mind came alive.  The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded.  By the end of the school year, Teddy was one of the brightest students in her class. Despite "her lie to treat all students the same," it was obvious Teddy was Mrs. Thompson pet.  The following year, Teddy transferred to the middle school and Mrs. Thompson never saw Teddy again.

Towards the end of the next school year, Mrs. Thompson found a note under her door one night.  It was a note from Teddy.  The note said “Dear Mrs. Thompson you were the best teacher I ever had in my whole life – signed Teddy”. 

Seven years passed before she received another note.  This time Teddy wrote he had just finished high school - third in his class - and that he would be going off to college - and that, by the way Mrs. Thompson, you are still the best teacher I ever had in my whole life.  

Four more years went by when a third note from Teddy arrived.  It stated “I have just graduated from college and am now going to medical school in this fall - and by the way Mrs. Thompson, you are still the best teacher I ever had”.

Several years passed before another letter arrived.  In this typed letter, Teddy stated he met a woman, a beautiful young lady, and he was going to get married in June.  He explained that his father had died a few years earlier and was wondering if she, Mrs. Thompson, would agree to sit in the place of honor reserved for the groom's parents at the head table on the night of his wedding. This letter was signed Theodore J. Stoddard M.D.

Of course Mrs. Thomson agreed. When arrived at the plush wedding ceremony wearing a beautiful dress on her wrist was an old rhinestone bracelet which had several rhinestones missing.  As she walked in the room she carried a scent of a perfume that a young boy once said reminded him of his mother.

Dr. Stoddard saw her and immediately came forward and gave her a big hug.  As he inhaled the fragrance of her perfume, he whispered in her ear, "Thank you Mrs. Thompson for making me feel so important and thank you for making a difference in my life."

With tear filled eyes Mrs. Thompson whispered back "No Teddy you have it wrong.  I need to thank you. I want to thank you for what you taught me. Teddy you taught me I could make a difference in other people’s lives."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

THE LAST CAB RIDE ... A Powerful Life Lesson Shared by a Cab Driver

I arrived at the address and honked the horn.  After waiting a few minutes, I honked again.  Since this was my last fare for this shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked hard.

"Just a minute," answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor; after a long pause, the door opened. A small woman who must have been in her 90's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and an old fashioned pillbox hat with a veil, like somebody out of a 1940's movie.
By her side was a small suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks on the shelves or utensils on the counters.  In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
"Would you carry my bag out to the car?" she asked. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to help the woman walk to the cab.  She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb; all the while she kept thanking me for my kindness. 

"It's nothing," I told her. "I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated." 

"Oh, you're such a good boy," she said. 
When we got in the cab, she gave me the address she wanted and asked if I could drive through downtown before we got there?  "Ma’am, it's not the shortest way," I answered. 

"Oh, I don't mind," she said. "I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice center."  I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. 
"I don't have any family left," she continued in a soft voice. "The doctor says I don't have very long with all this cancer."  I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.
"What route would you like me to take?" I asked.

"Any one you want," she replied.

For the next two hours, I just drove through the city. She pointed out a building where she once worked as an elevator operator.  Then we drove through a neighborhood where she said she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. 
She had me pull up and stop in front of an old furniture warehouse that she said had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a young girl.  As we drove, she would often ask me to drive slow in front of a particular building or around a corner and sometimes we would just park and stare into the darkness, saying nothing.
At the first hint of sunlight she suddenly said, "I'm tired; can we go now?"  We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, kind of like a small convalescent home with a driveway that passed under a portico.  As soon as I pulled in, two orderlies came running out. They were solicitous and very intent, and watched her every move.  They obviously were expecting her.

I hopped out and opened the trunk and took her small suitcase to the door.  The orderlies had already seated her in a wheelchair. "How much do I owe you?" she asked reaching into her purse. 

"Nothing," I answered. 

"That’s not fair; you have to make a living," she said. 

"There are plenty if other passengers," I responded.
Almost without thinking, I bent forward and gave her a hug and kissed her on the cheek. She held onto me tightly. "Young man, you gave an old woman a lot of joy tonight," she said.

"Thank you," I replied as I squeezed her hand and walked back to my cab.

Behind me, I heard a door shut; it sounded like the closing of a life.  For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. I thought what if that woman had gotten an angry driver or one who was impatient and wanted to end his shift quickly?  What if a driver had refused to take the run, or had honked only once, then driven away?
Looking back on last night, I don't think that I have ever done anything more important in my entire life.  We sometimes think our lives revolve around great moments; but great moments often catch us when we least expect them – they are often hidden in what others consider small things.
Remember; people may not remember what you did or what you said but I don't think anyone forgets how you made them feel.  I am not going to ask you to share this story about The Last Cab Ride – as I think most of you with a heart ... just will.
Even thought life is not always the party we hoped for while we are living it, we might as well dance every chance we get.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Beauty of a White Rose

I was killing time walking through a Big Bazaar type store, when I overheard a cashier tell a young boy who couldn't have been more than 6 or 7 years old, “Son, I'm sorry, but you don't have enough money to buy this doll.

The little boy looked at the cashier and asked, “Are you sure?''
The cashier politely took time to count the boy's money again and replied, ''You know that you don't have enough money to buy the doll, dear.''

The little boy stood silent while still holding the doll in his arms. I walked over and asked him who he wished to buy the doll for. “My sister.  It is the doll she loved and wanted so much. I wanted to give it to her for her birthday on Friday.”

He went on to say; “I have to have the doll today so I can give the doll to my Mommy tonight so that she can give it to my sister when she goes to live with her tonight.  My sister has gone to live with God and Daddy says that Mommy will be going to live with God soon too so I thought Mommy could take the doll with her to give it to my sister on Friday.''

My heart nearly stopped. The little boy looked up at me and said, "I asked my Daddy to tell Mommy to wait until I come back with the doll.” Then the little boy reached in his pocket and pulled out a picture of him laughing with a little girl and said, “I want Mommy to take my picture with her so my sister won't forget me. I don’t want Mommy to leave me, but Daddy says that she has to go to be with my sister." Then he squeezed the doll against his chest as tears fell from his eyes.

I slowly put my hand in my pocket and grabbed a few bills I had and said, "Son, suppose we count your money one more time just in case you do have enough money for the doll?''

"Okay he said. I sure hope I do have enough." As we counted his money, I discreetly added several of my dollar bills to his pile. When we were done counting, low and behold there was enough for the doll and even some money to spare.

The boy looked up and quietly said, "Thank you God for giving me enough money!" Then he looked at me and added, "Last night before I went to sleep I asked God to make sure I had enough money to buy this doll for my sister.” I also wanted to ask him for some money to buy a white rose for my Mommy, but I didn't dare to ask God for that because I thought I would be asking too much. But look what God did. He gave me enough to buy the doll and also enough to buy a white rose for Mommy because she loves white roses."

I finished my shopping with a totally different state of mind from when I started. I couldn't get that little kid out of my mind. As I was checking out, I suddenly remembered a newspaper article from a few days earlier which mentioned a drunken driver hit a car occupied by a young woman and her little girl. The girl died at the scene but the mother was taken to the hospital and was in a critical condition. The family, I recall, was asked to make a decision whether to pull the plug on the life support machine because the woman would not be able to recover from her coma. I wondered if that was the family of the little boy who wanted to buy his sister a doll.

The next day on my way to work I bought a paper.  A story featured on the front page was about a young woman who passed late last night because her family had instructed her doctors to pull the plug. I don’t know why but during my lunch break - I went to a nearby florist and bought a dozen white roses and drove to the funeral home that was listed in the paper. The room was full and up front was a casket for family and friends to make their last visit before the burial would occur.

I walked towards the casket and as I neared it I saw a young lady holding a beautiful a white rose in her hand. Next to the rose was a photo of a little boy and a girl laughing and over her chest was placed a doll – a doll I had seen the night before. I immediately turned around and left the funeral home as my eyes filled with tears. On that day I learned the simple beauty of a while rose and a little toy doll.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Who Was That Man

A nurse on the intensive care ward took the tired and anxious looking serviceman to the bedside. "Your son is here," she said to the old man. She had to repeat the words several times before the patient's eyes opened.

Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young uniformed Marine standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand. The Marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man's limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement.

The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit beside the bed. All through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly lighted ward, holding the old man's hand and offering him words of love and strength. 

Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile; however he refused.

Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the Marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital - the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients. Now and then she heard him say a few gentle words to the dying man who said nothing, only held on tightly to his son all through the night.

Along towards dawn, the old man died. The Marine released the now lifeless hand he had been holding all night and went to tell the nurse. While she did what she had to do, he patiently waited.

Finally, she turned to the Marine and started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her. "Who was that man?" he asked. 

The nurse was startled, "Why he was your father," she answered. 

"No, he wasn't," the Marine replied. "I never saw him before in my life; my dad is doing fine I just saw him yesterday."

"Then why didn't you say something when I took you into his room?" asked the nurse. 

The Marine replied "I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew that man needed his son, and his son just wasn't here.

When I realized he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son and knowing how much he needed someone, I just stayed." 

“I came here tonight to find a Mr. William Grey; his son was killed in Iraq today, and I was sent to inform him. What was this gentleman's name?

The nurse, with tears in her eyes, answered, "Son, that was Mr. Grey."

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The First Presidential Limousine - You Won't Believe It!

It's been a while since I have posted on this blog.  December was hectic and January just took off.  I am sorry.  Hopefully you will find this story fascinating and share it with your family and friends.  Gabe   

Just hours after Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, the Secret Service found itself with a major dilemma - an unusual problem. President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked to speak to an emergency session of Congress on Tuesday morning, December 9.  He chose to wait until Tuesday to address Congress as he wanted as many of the elected state representatives present and wanted to give them time to get back to Washington when he made his address to the nation. This joint session on December the 9th is where he gave his powerful “This is a Day That Will Live on in Infamy” speech. 

Though the actual trip from the White House to Capitol Hill was short, Secret Service agents at the time were concerned about his personal safety. Standard vehicles had always been used to transport the President wherever he travelled; however now with the possibility of war pending, they thought a more secure and safer mode of transportation should be used.

Federal Laws in place at the time prohibited government agencies and departments from purchasing vehicles that cost more than $750. The only recourse the Secret Service had was to get emergency authority and funding from Congress to purchase a safer vehicle; however
with all the mayhem erupting in Washington, nobody had time for that. 

As luck would have it, one of the older (or should we say long-term) agents working for the Secret Service, remembered the US Treasury Department had seized a bulletproof car from a mobster a few years ago that might work. 

The mobster they seized the vehicle from was none other than Al Capone - the famous Chicago crime boss. Capone, you may recall, was sent to prison in 1931 for tax evasion.  He failed to file and pay taxes on $150,000 of income he earned from his illegal operations. The car the Treasury Department seized from Al Capone was now sitting in a Washington D.C. warehouse.

Capone’s seized car was a 1928 Cadillac Town Sedan which had a V-8 engine. 

Interestingly, Capone had his car painted black and green to look identical to the Chicago police vehicles of that era. Capone also had the 1928 Cadillac Town Sedan modified with 3,000 pounds of armor plating and one-inch thick bulletproof glass. Furthermore, he had a police siren and flashing lights installed behind the front grille of the vehicle which he used often to speed his way through Chicago’s congested traffic quickly.

Throughout Sunday night, all day Monday, and all of Monday night mechanics and Secret Service agents labored to clean the car and make sure it was in perfect running condition. On Tuesday morning, December 9, they had Capone’s car ready to transport President Franklin Roosevelt to Capitol Hill. 

The point we should all remember from this fascinating little story is: The very first "Official" White House Limousine ever used to transport a US President was a bulletproof Cadillac, formerly owned by the notorious Chicago gangster, Al Capone.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

One of The Worse Stories We Have To Tell

Many of us, especially those close to my age, can easily remember that terrible disease polio. Several of us saw family members, relatives, neighbors and colleagues afflicted by this terrible illness.  

Rotary International, an Organization which I am active in and proud to be a member, has been trying to eradicate this disease from the planet for years.  Please take a moment and review the poster below. 

Hopefully you will see that there may be a light at the end of this long tunnel and the tragic story may have a happy ending.  I know today is Veteran's Day and we should all focus on thanking the Vets we know who served.  But maybe tomorrow or the next day, if you see a Rotarian in your community, you might just want to say thanks as well.

Gabe Gabrielsen

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Seven Mentors Who Changed My Life

Warning: Read this story with care. The thoughts I share are not intended for everyone. They are meant for public officials, organizational leaders and career-focused professionals who truly want to make a difference.

I would not have accomplished much in my life had I not followed the advice of seven great mentors. Their insights allowed me to understand my role and overcome the obstacles I confronted. 

What they shared allowed me to gain success beyond my wildest dreams.  The only regret I have is that I never had the opportunity to personally meet these mentors and thank them for the impact they made on my life.

My first mentor was Nicolaus Copernicus. Copernicus, a Polish monk born in the late 1400’s, stood on the shore to watch a sunset. As the sun set, he realized the earth could not be the center of the universe and he openly challenged the common belief that the earth was the center of the universe. He was ridiculed by his colleagues and chastised by the Church; however, Copernicus remained firm in his convictions. He challenged the status quo and in doing so, he re-shaped the concept of how we view the universe today.

My second mentor was Frederick Taylor. Taylor, a mechanical engineer, always looked for ways to improve organizational efficiencies. Taylor was approached by a coal company that wanted to increase their output of coal. For several days, Taylor sat and observed coal miners; he studied how they dug out the coal and loaded it on the rail cars. Much to the coal mine’s surprise, Taylor recommended every miner be issued smaller shovels with long handles. The coal mine's management laughed - they insisted larger shovels resulted in more coal. Taylor countered saying 25 lb. shovel scoops tire workers out quickly and by mid-morning most were exhausted; however, 15 lb. shovel scoops would not fatigue the miners and they would be able to easily lift 15 lb. shovels full all day - at a brisk pace. His point was give employees the proper tools and they can accomplish more.

Next was my mentor Dale Carnegie. Carnegie, a simple Missouri farm boy, noticed successful leaders share two things in common. First, they know a lot of people and second they feel at ease speaking in public. Carnegie believed “career success” could be accelerated if people would just reach out and meet new people and speak clearly in public.

The fourth mentor who accelerated my career was Evelyn Wood. Evelyn, a high school English teacher, had the wisdom to foresee that more and more of what Americans learned came from books - what they read. She noticed successful people read quickly and retain most of what they read. Her contribution to my career growth was that she created the Evelyn Wood’s Speed Reading Dynamics Course. Her simple course taught people (including myself) how to increase reading speed and improve retention of what was read.

Though not impressed at first, I came to revere Arthur Murray as one of my most influential mentors. Arthur, a draftsman by trade, noticed that successful people had great social skills; none were "wall flowers". He believed careers were limited when people lack social graces – especially dancing skills – yes dancing. 
Murray was so passionate about the correlation between good dancing and career success he created a worldwide franchise of dance schools - places where everyday business men and women could learn to dance. People who attended Arthur Murray’s dance schools were able to broadcast their social talent at civic functions. His students included Eleanor Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller, the Duke of Windsor, prize fighter Jack Dempsey and of course yours truly Gabe Gabrielsen.

My sixth mentor was Elmer Wheeler. Wheeler, an advertising and marketing professional, believed knowledge and experience meant very little if no one bought into your ideas. Elmer coined a phrase "Sell the sizzle – not the steak." He suggested people never wave raw meat in front of a person; show the completed meal - salad, potatoes, dessert and wine.

When a small tire manufacturer in Ohio wanted to go after a share of the global tire market, Mr. Wheeler advised him not to sell tires in their ads. He believed the only way consumers would leave Goodyear and Goodrich and buy his tires was if he would sell the benefits of this new tire. Benefits like "peace of mind", "dependability", and most important, "family safety". 

That small tire manufacturer took Elmer’s advice and today people around the world know that, “Wherever wheels are turning – no matter what the load – the name that’s known is Firestone … when the rubber meets the road, drive a Firestone."

Finally, the mentor with the greatest impact on my career was Dr. David Schwartz. Schwartz, a professor at Georgia State University, sadly realized not all his students would accomplish amazing things. In fact, the vast majority, after graduating, just blended in even though they had stellar academic records and a prestigious degree. 

Schwartz concluded only the students who believed they could accomplish big things were the ones who did. Schwartz convinced me to believe in the magic of thinking big. Schwartz never saw the problem as too many chiefs; he saw the problem as too many Indians.

Well, there you have Gabe’s seven mentors and the powerful insights they shared:

1) Challenge the status quo.

2) Give your employees the right tools so they can succeed and accomplish more.

3) Win friends and influence people.

4) Learn to read fast and retain what you read.

5) Exhibit social graces and learn to be a great dancer.

6) Sell the sizzle – not the steak; never dangle unfinished products in front of someone.

7) Think big – and remember, “If you think it can’t be done” … you are right. “If you think it can be done”… you are right.

My hope is that some of you can adopt a few of these sage principals.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Should I Take Him Back To The Pound?

I took a new job because I thought it would be good for my career and the pay raise was great, but something was missing. The people I worked with and met on the street were friendly but when I got home, I always felt alone. 

On Thursday night I saw a commercial about dogs in the animal shelter and thought maybe a dog would be a good companion for me. So on Saturday I went to the shelter. It was clean and the staff was friendly. After a lengthy discussion about my lifestyle and work schedule, they led me to a black Lab called Reggie. They thought Reggie and I would be a good fit and suggested I take him home. They said give him two weeks. If things don’t work out, you can bring him back.

I agreed to take Reggie home and they gave me all his things: a dog pad, his water and food dish, a large box of tennis balls and a sealed envelope with a letter from his previous owner.

Reggie and I struggled; we really didn’t hit it off. The problem was he wouldn’t go anywhere without having two tennis balls in his mouth and he would only sometimes follow commands like sit, stay, come and heel. The worst part though was that he never listened when I called his name. I would have to say it four or five times to get him to look in my direction, but then would go on doing whatever he was doing

After two weeks, I decided take Reggie back to the shelter. I just knew having him wasn’t going to work out. As I gathered up his things, his pad, the food dishes and all those damn tennis balls, I found that sealed letter the shelter had given me from his previous owner. I picked up the letter, sat on the sofa and opened the envelope. I said, “Okay Reggie, let’s see if your previous owner has any advice to make things work better for us before I take you back.” I opened the letter and here is what I read:

“Well, I can’t say that I’m happy you’re reading this letter. I made it clear to the people at the animal shelter that it should only be opened by Reggie’s new owner. If you are reading this, it means you are Reggie’s new owner. Reggie knew something was different when we left for the car ride. When I packed up his pad and toys and set them by the back door this morning, he knew something was wrong. And something is wrong . . . which is why I have to try and make it right with this letter.

Let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you.

First, Reggie loves tennis balls. The more the merrier. Sometimes I think he’s part squirrel, the way he hoardes them. He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. He hasn’t done it yet. It doesn’t matter where you throw them, he’ll run after them, so be very careful – don’t throw them near any roads. I made that mistake once, and it almost cost him dearly.

Next, commands. Maybe the shelter staff already told you, but I’ll go over them again: Reggie knows the obvious ones – “sit,” “stay,” “come,” “heel.” He knows hand signals as well. When you put your hand straight up, it means go “back”. If you want him to “roll over”, put your hand out and turn it right or left. If you want a “paw” or “high-five”, put your hand up. He does “down” when you say down but only if he feels like lying down – I bet you could work with him on that to get it perfect. He knows “ball” and “food” and “bone” and “treat” like nobody’s business. I’ve always trained Reggie with small treats. Nothing gets his attention like little pieces of a hot dog.

The feeding schedule I had him on was twice a day -- once about seven in the morning and again at six in the evening. I gave him regular store-bought food. The shelter should have the brand.

He’s up to date on his shots. Please call the clinic on 9th Street and update his info with your information; they’ll make sure to send you reminders for when he’s due for future checkups. Be forewarned: Reggie really hates the vet. Good luck getting him in the car – I don’t know how he knows when it’s time to go to the vet, but he always knows.

Finally, give him some time. I’ve never been married, so it’s only been Reggie and me for his whole life. He’s gone everywhere with me, so try to include him on your daily car rides if you can. He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn’t bark or complain. He just loves to be around people.

This transition for him may be hard - having to go to live with someone new, so please give him time to adjust. And that’s why I need to share one more bit of info with you . . .

His name’s not Reggie.

I don’t know what made me do it, but when I dropped him off at the shelter this morning I told them his name was Reggie. He’s a smart dog - he’ll get used to it and will respond to it, I have no doubt. But I just couldn’t bear to give them his real name. For me to do that seemed so final. Handing him over to the shelter was as good as me admitting that I’d never see him again. And if I end up coming back, getting him back, and tearing up this letter, it means everything went fine. But if someone else is reading it, well . . . well it means that his new owner should know his real name. It’ll help you bond with him. Who knows, maybe you’ll even notice a change in his demeanor if he’s been giving you any problems.

His real name is Tank. Because that is what I drive.

Again, if you’re reading this and you’re from the area, maybe my name has been on the news. I told the shelter that they couldn’t make “Reggie” available for adoption until they received word from my company commander. See, my parents both passed away and I have no siblings - no one I could have left Tank with . . . and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Afghanistan, that they have someone make one phone call to the shelter . . . in the “event” . . . to let the shelter staff know that Tank could be put up for adoption. Luckily, my squad leader is a dog guy and he said if anything happened to me, he would personally make the call. And if you’re reading this letter, then he made good on his word; he called the shelter and told them I would not be coming back for Tank.

Well, this letter is getting too downright depressing, even though I’m just writing it for my dog. I couldn’t imagine if I was writing this letter for a wife or kids, but Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as I have been in the Army.

I hope and pray that you will make Tank part of your family; I am sure he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me. That unconditional love I got from Tank is what I am taking with me. His love is an inspiration for me to do something important, to protect innocent people from those who would do terrible things . . . and to keep those terrible people from coming over here. If I had to give up Tank in order to do that, then I am glad to have done so.

All right, that’s enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter. I don’t think I’ll say another good-bye to Tank though. I cried too much earlier today the first time I had to say goodbye. Maybe I’ll just peek in on him to see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth.

Good luck with Tank. Please give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss good night – every night – just from me.

Thank you.

Paul Mallory


When I finished reading the letter, I looked over at Reggie who was lying on his pad and said, “Tank Come Here.” Tank quickly filled his mouth with "three tennis balls", ran over and jumped up on the sofa and put his head on my lap. I am not taking Tank back to shelter.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Truly Fascinating Story For All Business Travelers Who Fly In To or Out Of Chicago's O'Hare Airport

Many years ago, Al Capone, the notorious criminal, was involved in everything from booze to prostitution to murder.  Al had a personal lawyer nicknamed "Easy Eddie" and Eddie's skill at legal maneuvering was the primary reason Big Al was kept out of jail for so many years.

Capone paid Eddie well and Eddie lived the high life.  He and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion that filled an entire Chicago city block.  Though involved deeply with the mob, Eddie had one soft spot, his son whom he loved dearly.  Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars, and a good education and despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie tried his best to teach his son right from wrong.  Eddie wanted his son to grow up to be a good man.

One day, Eddie decided to rectify wrongs he had done and went to the authorities to tell the truth about Al Capone so he could clean up his tarnished name and offer his son some semblance of integrity.  Eddie knew the cost for testifying against the mob would be great ... and he was right.  Within a year, Easy Eddie's life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago side street.  But in his eyes, Eddie gave his son a great gift.  When the police emptied his pockets, they found a rosary and a poem Eddie had clipped from a magazine.

The poem read:

"The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop.  Now is the only time you own. Live, love, toil with a will.  Place no faith in time, for the clock may soon be still."

Now an unrelated --- but necessary parallel to the above story ---- please read you won't be disappointed.   


World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Navy Lieutenant Commander Butch O'Hare, a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific.  One day his squadron was sent on a mission.  After he was airborne, Butch looked at his fuel gauge and realized the ground crew did not top off his fuel tank.  He knew he would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and return to his ship.  Butch’s flight leader ordered Butch to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, Butch dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet.

On returning to the fleet, Butch saw in the distance a squadron of Japanese aircraft heading toward the fleet.  Since the fleet’s fighters were all out on their missions, the fleet was now virtually defenseless.  Butch was unable to raise his squadron leader on the radio to bring them back in time to save the fleet.  There was only one thing for Butch do … he had to stop the Japanese planes from attacking the fleet.

Without hesitation or regard to his personal safety, Butch dove into the formation of enemy aircraft; with his wing-mounted 50 caliber's guns he blazed in, attacking one surprised aircraft after another.  Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent.

Even though his ammo was gone, Butch continued his assault by diving at planes, trying to clip a wing or hit a tail in hopes of damaging them and rendering them unfit to fly. Totally exasperated, the remaining Japanese aircraft headed home and Butch perished in the ocean.

Butch’s home town vowed not to allow the memory of this WWII hero to fade from their memory.  They named their city airport after him.  The City of Chicago decided to pay tribute to its courageous native son.

So for all you travelers who fly in or out of Chicago's O'Hare airport here is my recommendation:  The next time you find yourself waiting for a flight at O'Hare Airport, give some serious thought to visiting Butch’s memorial.  Take a look at his statue and his Medal of Honor he earned.  It is located between Terminals 1 and 2.


Butch “Edward” O'Hare - the World War II Hero was "Easy Eddie's" son.