-------As a teacher
I have often experienced the reality that enthusiasm is contagious.
One of my earliest experiences with this concept didn’t occur
in the traditional classroom. When I was in college, I worked part
time in a roller skate factory. As a full-time student, I was definitely
not the typical worker in that environment. The crew included very
young and unfocused drifters, and a couple of “older”
guys who seemed to want little more out of life than Friday’s
small paycheck and the weekend’s freedom. This story centers
on the attitudes of one worker from each of those categories.
-------The young worker was a very
energetic, though entirely misguided 17-year-old boy. His whole
existence in life boiled down to getting high and listening to the
loudest and most aggressive rock music you could find. His music
rating system appeared to have only two criteria - loudness and
lewdness. At one point he exclaimed, “I will never get mellow,”
a reference to my insistence that one day, as he got older, he would
grow to appreciate music of a less aggressive nature. I never suggested
he would come to love Mozart, but I did express that he’d
inevitably mellow a bit, at least to an occasional rock ballad.
This suggestion only got him more agitated and insistent on his
position. “I will never mellow!”
-------The older worker was an enigma
to say the least. He seemed to have no discernible direction in
life, no goals, no dreams, no hobbies – except one. As evidenced
by his knowledge of all things trivial, I couldn’t envision
him doing anything other than sitting on the couch watching television.
He knew about every show, every actor, every actress, every episode,
every news story – it seemed like every thing.
-------As one might imagine, the job
of building roller skates could get pretty boring. One of our diversions
was to challenge our elder’s knowledge of these trivial things.
He never disappointed. The work area was divided into three stations.
He, the experienced one, always held the position at the final station
where he had to put the finishing touches on the skates, fine tuning
the wheels and making sure everything was just right. The second
station was within earshot of his, making for easy conversation.
The first station was at the drill press, almost entirely out of
range, and continuously interrupted by the noisy task at hand. It
was with me at the second post and our young “head-banger”
at the drill that our story unfolds.
-------I had been engaged in rehearsals
for a summer musical for which I was playing in the orchestra. I
mentioned this to our elder workmate and he began to sing a song
from the musical in question. I laughed along with him and decided
to challenge him with a little Broadway trivia. I’d sing or
hum a song and he was to tell me the musical from which it came.
sang, “There’s a bright golden haze on the mead…..”
-------It went on for several minutes
with him naming almost every tune I could reproduce. I noticed our
young acid rock connoisseur passively watching in the distance with
a somewhat astonished look on his face. At one point I glanced his
direction and he lightly shook his head as if to say “you
guys are ridiculous.”
-------As the game went on, our enthusiasm
and laughter grew. It culminated in the grand duet. I began “Some
-------Together in perfect unison “you
may see a stranger, across a crowded floor. We moved closer together
“And somehow you know.” Closer still. “You know
We moved side by side and belted out the finale “That you’ll
see that stranger again and again… never let her gooooooooooooooooooooo!”
-------I looked over at our rocker.
He was in total disbelief.
-------A few minutes went by and the
warehouse returned to normalcy. As things quieted down, the rock
and roll enthusiast strolled over to me very slowly and deliberately
as if he had something heavy on his heart. With an embarrassed look
on his face he took the opportunity to make a confession.
-------“Do you remember the other
day when I told you I’d never mellow out?”
-------I glanced and nodded a silent
I’ve decided I probably will mellow out a little
-------I guess passion has the power
to moves the most stationary soul!
© 2004 - The Trill House