Monday, November 03, 2008
Look, I'm not nearly up to the task of eulogizing Studs Terkel. I will only say that as someone who tries hard to keep the issues of labor and civil rights close to my heart, what better example and hero is there to emulate than Studs?
When I worked at the now-defunct Jerome's restaurant on Clark street in Chicago, I used to wait on him from time to time, mostly when he would have lunch with people I assumed to be involved with publishing. You know, you can tell a lot about someone by how they treat the wait staff. Here's how Studs treated me when I waited on him:
- When I approached his table, Studs would immediate halt his conversation and give me his full attention. I could've counted on one hand the number of customers who did likewise in my waiting career.
- He always said "please" and "thank you." Always.
- He talked to me like I was a person, working a job, not like I was his servant.
- He tipped big. Like 30%. If his companion was paying the bill, they would tip big also, no doubt due to his influence.
These days, so many politicians, activists and advocates talk the talk, but don't walk the walk, that it's hard to remember what the walk even looks like anymore.
Studs, who wore something red every day to remind him of the rights of workers, and who took the bus even though he could've taken a cab, and who made the oral history of the People into an art form, he walked it. And more than that, he was funny, and curious, and talked almost as well and as much as he listened. He was an old man busting with life. When I am old, I hope, I really do, to enjoy myself just one tenth as much as he clearly did.
Posted by vikkitikkitavi at 9:37 AM