Friday, November 14, 2008
Making a Difference
I haven't posted in over a week (bad, bad blogger). But we're sitting here now in the aftermath of an election, and so many people seem to be feeling a sense of empowerment for the first time, so I thought I'd tell you this true story:
Some years ago, we were on vacation in Palm Springs, and during that vacation we took a bus tour of the Coachella Valley. Our tour guide was a retired gentleman named Mr. Harriman. As the bus was traveling between sights, Mr. Harriman told us stories of his early days in Palm Springs. He had moved there in the 1950's, when it had been discovered by Hollywood stars but not by the newspaper photographers, so it was common for famous people to come to Palm Springs to "let their hair down" and act like themselves without the press around. In those days, Mr. Harriman told us, Palm Springs was a small community, and the only place in town to have a drink was the Racquet Club. He didn't have much money himself, but he used to drop by the Racquet Club and buy one drink, and sit and nurse it as he watched stars and celebrities arrive and leave. It made him feel like he was among the famous.
After the last stop on the bus tour, we had a long run down the Valley back to our resort, and during that run Mr. Harriman told us this final story:
When he first moved to Palm Springs, he was a schoolteacher. Specifically, a music teacher. In fact, he was the only music teacher in the whole Coachella Valley, so he rotated from school to school, spending a couple of days at each before moving on to the next. Whenever he first showed up at a school, all the children ran to him and crowded around him in excitement, because they knew that his arrival meant they would have a few days break from the usual monotony, studying music.
One evening, after a day of teaching, Mr. Harriman dropped by the Racquet Club and bought himself a drink. While he was sitting there nursing it, he recognized, at another table, a little girl who had been in his fourth-grade class that very day. She was sitting with a well-dressed man and a well-dressed woman who he assumed were her mother and father. But the real excitement was that they were having dinner with Dinah Shore!
For those of you too young to know about Dinah Shore, but she was a famous singer from the big band era, and also one of the early female talk show hosts. She was an enormous celebrity in her day, and current celebrities like Oprah Winfrey owe a lot to her.
Anyway, when Mr. Harriman got back to the school the next day, he took the little girl's teacher aside and said, "Do you know who I saw that little girl, in your class, having dinner with last night? Dinah Shore!"
The teacher replied, "Well, she's never said anything to us about Dinah Shore, but you know, when she got to school this morning she was so excited that she couldn't wait to tell everyone, and all the other students were so jealous, because when she was out to dinner last night, she saw Mr. Harriman!"
Everyone can make a difference.
We all can make a difference - either for good or bad. I hope that even after this upcoming holiday season that people will continue to seek out ways to do great things!