I try to limit myself to one topic per week, but there are three things on my mind. One is good, one is sad, and the other is bad. Let’s start with the good.
In this era of texting and e-mail, people don’t write as many letters to the editor as they used to, and when they do, it’s often a complaint. I’m about to give an area business a big pat on the back, and believe me, they didn’t ask for it.
A friend of mine was told by a mechanic recently that her car needed new brake pads. “Let’s get that done before Christmas if you can,” she was told. He quoted her a price, and when she told her friends, we agreed she could probably get a better deal by shopping around. One person suggested Maxi Auto Service Center in Red Bank, which did indeed quote her a lower price.
She dropped it off one morning, and the mechanics dug in to examine her brake pads. That’s quite a bit of work, by the way. About an hour later, Randy, the manager called my friend. “You don’t need new brake pads, these are fine,” he told her. “I feel so bad,” she responded. “You went to all that trouble, what do I owe you?” Randy said, “Don’t worry about it, Merry Christmas. By the way, we replaced one of your brake lights too. No charge.”
The moral of this story is, they could have easily charged her for their work, or installed new brake pads anyway. She would have never known the difference, and would have driven away happy. But honest business people don’t operate like that. So thank you Maxi. You made a friend for life by doing the right thing. She told her friends, and we’re telling everyone we know.
Topic number 2: the sad. Chattanooga’s Mt. Vernon restaurant closed last week after a 62-year run on South Broad Street, at the foot of Lookout Mountain. The owner cited personal health reasons. This restaurant is the latest in a long line of family-owned, independent eateries that are gradually fading out.
In some cases, it’s an economic decision, with chain-owned competition making it hard for “Mom and Pop” to keep up. Sometimes the grandkids or great-grandkids of the original owners just aren’t interested in operating the old business. Whatever the reason, it’s always sad to see an iconic local landmark lock its doors, never to reopen.
The great radio man Luther Masingill never prepared a meal at the Mt. Vernon, but he may have been as responsible as anyone for the restaurant’s success. For decades he announced the daily menu (“Today’s special: salmon patties, sweet potatoes, fresh cut green beans, and amaretto pie”), and he dined there frequently as well, usually picking up a stranger’s tab.
Now we must add the Mt. Vernon to a list that includes The Loft, Rickey’s, Fehn’s, The Town and Country, Sailmakers, George’s, Shakey’s, The Country Place, The Hungry Fisherman, the Black Angus, the Tick Tock, S & W, and so many more. They live on only in our memory.
Thankfully, we still have Wally’s, Zarzour’s, Bea’s, Nikki’s, Longhorn and a few others that have stood the test of time. I think I’ll visit them a little more often.
Finally, the bad. I’ve addressed this topic before, but it seems to be getting worse instead of better. We all know bullying has existed since the beginning of time, and will never truly go away. But if just one parent has a meaningful talk with their child as a result of reading this, it is a worthwhile effort.
A few days ago, a man was arrested and charged with a crime. He may or may not be guilty, and if he is, I hope he pays the price. But as is the custom these days, his mugshot made the papers, the TV newscasts, the websites, and every form of social media.
Without getting specific, I’ll just say he has a facial deformity that is instantly noticeable. No doubt, he has spent a lifetime coping with people who comment or stare. If anyone reading this “stands out” in any way (very tall, very short, very thin, obese, or with birthmarks or other unusual characteristics), you understand. Some rude people have no “filter.”
The social media comments were overwhelmingly about his appearance. Only a few folks commented on the crime with which he was charged, and again, his guilt or innocence will be determined later. Instead, it was open season on his flaws.
Yes, kids on the playground often say hurtful things, because no one taught them any better. But adults have no excuse.
Face to face is bad enough, but hiding behind a keyboard is even worse. Parents, teach your children well. Hopefully the next generation will behave better than we do.