-- by Mike Murray
Christmas decorations were, I believe, the subject of our first conversation. Specifically, it was the sound of the bells -- the ones that chimed secular and religious carols -- that had caught the postal carrier's attention. After having introduced himself as "Steve," the polite, gentle man revealed that he sometimes lingered in my driveway during his rounds to enjoy the blissful sounds.
I explained that the bell-shaped objects displayed on the outside of my attached garage were only decorative, and that the actual sounds emanated from inside the structure. But I acknowledged that he was correct: the tones were authentic -- in that they were created from real, functioning bells. (A computer-controlled device rang them in programmed sequences to produce specific melodies.)
From that brief exchange grew many enjoyable conversations. And a cordial relationship that mirrored, I suspected, many others that Steve had forged with people throughout the neighborhood. When his route changed, I received confirmation: Everyone on the block, it seemed, knew Steve -- and missed his company.
The man was exemplary in his duties: professional in his service, courteous in his demeanor. But Steve was much more than that. He was a friend to seemingly everyone he met. There was an obvious, profound decency about the man. In his absence, he was sorely missed. Other carriers came and went. Most were competent and nice enough. But they weren't Steve.
Years passed, and my Christmas bells died. Even though they were housed indoors, away from the harsh elements, they nevertheless eventually stopped ringing. Like Steve, they were simply, suddenly "gone." But, even in their non-working state, I left them hung in my garage. Seeing them always evoked happy memories.
And then one day my old friend returned. Steve's reassignment has been the talk of the neighborhood. My own reunion with him mimicked, I am certain, dozens of others. Even better, Steve Zona is the 2010 co-recipient of a Berea Rotary Club / Sun Newspapers award for his courteous service. It is an honor he well deserves. Because Steve is, without question, an uncommonly good man.
I join with all who celebrate his public recognition. And I am happy to report that I have finally found -- after years of searching -- replacement Christmas bells. I hope Steve enjoys them.
Copyright © 2010 Michael F. Murray -- All rights reserved.