A truck driver was enjoying his meal at a local diner[餐车饭店] and happened to look towards the door when it opened. That was probably the only reason he ever paid attention to the old lady who came in. She was quite ordinary looking, a little bent, wisps[小束] of white hair had escaped from under her hat. She had good clean clothes, a bit old-fashioned[过时的] perhaps, but that was sort of expected from an old lady.
He bit into his hamburger and expected the lady to disappear into one of the booths[饭馆中的小隔间] quietly.
But not this old lady.
There was the sound of running steps and the owner and all the servers hurried from behind the counter to meet the old lady.
“Mrs. Cosby!” They shouted, “How pleased we are to see you!”
The old lady smiled and greeted them all.
“Susan, Bob, Alyssa, Carmen… Good to see you all. How have you been? Life has been good to you?”
“Very good, indeed, Mrs. Cosby!” Bob, the owner said, “Now, let me take your coat.”
Very carefully he took the old lady’s coat. The truck driver watched with interest. He had never seen a diner owner help anyone out of their coats before. And he had been driving across the country for quite a few years to say the least[退一步说].
“I’ll bring you a little soup first. Then you can decide what you want to eat this time,” Alyssa smiled and returned to the kitchen.
“But first I shall tidy up your table!” Susan said.
This she did—she wiped the table clean and out of nowhere appeared a bright white, clean table cloth. Carmen seemed to pull a vase with a yellow rose from her pocket.
“Now you sit down and make yourself comfortable, Mrs. Cosby!” Bob helped her to sit down, “There…now, what would you like to drink? Water with a touch of[一点儿] lemon?”
When Bob passed his table, the truck driver could not resist[忍得住].
“Yes? Would you like more coffee?” Bob asked.
“No, thank you, maybe later. I was just wondering…what is so special about the old lady over there?”
“Teacher attitude,” Bob smiled.
“Teacher attitude?” The truck driver did not believe his ears.
“I’ll explain soon if you wait,” Bob said.
And out of sheer[纯粹的] curiosity[好奇心] the truck driver waited, watching in awe[敬畏] how the servers did everything in their power to make the old lady really enjoy her meal. And when she was finished, Bob refused to take any payment from her. He escorted[护送] her to the door and stood there, waving as long as it took for her to reach the corner and turn out of sight.
Then he turned, saw the truck driver and walked to him.
“Now, a story about teacher attitude and the importance of motivation[动力],” he said and sat down.
“Yes, the best one. Though we probably did not make it very easy for her at first… You know how every school seems to have a class that everyone thinks will never graduate? Troublemakers, that’s what we were.”
“None of our teachers stayed for long. And so, one morning, the door to the classroom opened and a new teacher walked in, yet again. Mrs. Cosby. We looked at her and gave her maybe a week. She looked too soft to ever handle[对付] us. And we sure gave her a hard time. But she never lost her temper, no matter what we did. And then came the last day of the first month she had been our teacher. That was the day she showed the teacher attitude she became so famous for.”
“Her teacher attitude? What was so special about her teacher attitude?”
“She opened her briefcase[公文包] and took out a bunch of papers. We feared the worst—a test. But oh no, it was something that totally surprised us.”
“Well what was it?” The truck driver asked.
“Mrs. Cosby asked each one of us to come to the front of the class, one by one, and gave us each a paper. On each paper she had written what the student in question had been good at during the last month.”
The truck driver looked at Bob, “She showed her teacher attitude by giving you a paper that told you what you were good at? I’m sorry, I don’t get it.”
“If you think about it, you’ll get it alright. You see, no one had ever believed in us. No one ever liked us. We were constantly[经常地] told how good-for-nothing[毫无价值的] we were. And we had started to believe it ourselves. The teacher attitude we had met with before didn’t encourage us to believe in ourselves.
“And here, suddenly, was someone who had been observing us closely for a month. And a month when we made things as difficult for her as we could, mind you. And yet she could find something positive[积极的] to say about each and every one of us.
“Once she had delivered the papers, she continued with her teaching and for the first time we forgot to make her life miserable.”
Someone called Bob and he excused himself and left to serve a customer. After a while he returned and continued with his story.
“Mrs. Cosby did this every month from then on. Each month we got a paper that emphasized[强调] our strengths, what we had been good at. I thought no one would ever see anything good about me—I was lousy[讨厌的] at school. But she commented on[评价] my courage, how punctual[守时的] I was, how good to settle arguments if I so wanted. And you know what happens when someone keeps telling you what you are good at?”
The truck driver shook his head.
“Well, you begin to act as if that was true. You start to learn more to be even better, to prove them right.
“And so with her positive teacher attitude, she transformed[改变] our class. We did not want to hurt her feelings anymore. We actually started to study. Other students and teachers could not understand what had happened.
“And then came the day of our graduation. Yes, we actually graduated. Mrs. Cosby hugged each and every one of us, and told us with tears in her eyes how proud she was of us.
“‘My dear children,’ she said to us, ‘I knew you could make it. I knew how good you were, but it seems you did not know it yourself. Too long you had listened and believed the words of others who thought you were hopeless[没有希望的]. And yet, here you are, and you have proved them wrong. This must be the proudest day of my life!’
“Then she handed each one of us a book. All the encouraging letters through the years were there, in hard cover.
“‘I want you each to keep this book and if ever during your life you feel unworthy[无价值的], open this and read how good you are. You can be anything you want to be as long as you believe in yourself. Promise me you’ll remember that!’”
“And we did. She turned a bunch of misfits[不适应环境的人] into people who could achieve great things—because now we believed in ourselves. We went on to fulfil our dreams. Mine was to own a diner and here I am, instead of ruining my life with alcohol and drugs—and I was already going that way when Mrs. Cosby appeared. So maybe now you understand why that old lady deserves all the respect we can give her.”
The truck driver nodded. Then he asked for his bill.
Bob went to get it and when he returned he saw the truck driver talking on his cell phone. Not wanting to disturb he stood at some distance.
“Honey? Hi, yes, it is me. You know, I thought I would drive home tonight. Yes, I know, it is a long way, but I can make it. You think you might make that special lasagna[烤宽面条] of yours for me? Yes, I’d really like to have some. You know, you should sell that lasagna, it is so good, better than anyone else’s! What? Why do I say so? Well because I think so. Just wanted to let you know you are the best lasagna cook I have ever met! You will? Great, see you in the evening! Love you too!”
Alyssa saw Bob smiling when he returned.
“Let me guess—another one for Mrs. Cosby?”
“Yep,” Bob laughed.
Alyssa smiled and gave Bob a little kiss on the cheek on her way to pour more coffee for a customer.
“You tell about Mrs. Cosby to everyone on purpose, I am sure.”
“Absolutely[绝对地]! That kind of teacher attitude deserves to be spread! And it works, every time. This truck driver just made his wife very happy by telling her what she was good at—making lasagna! Definitely one more point for Mrs. Cosby!”