Volume 38, Issue 12, December 2003


The Ringer!

by Lyle R. Hill

Even though I was almost 100 yards away, I could hear it clearly as soon as I opened my car door. It has a very distinctive sound, and in the cold, still night air, the sound carried well and grew louder as I walked toward it.

The Salvation Army was founded by Methodist minister William Booth and his wife Catherine in 1865. It originated in London and quickly spread into the states. It now has branches in almost every country in the world. When I was about 9 years old I had my first encounter with them when an apartment building a couple of doors from ours burned to the ground one night. To this day, I still remember the Salvation Army people providing food, blankets and, most importantly, a temporary home for the displaced families to stay while everything got sorted out. I’m not sure when they started ringing their little brass bells as a means to get the rest of us involved with their charitable work, but it wouldn’t be Christmas in my part of the world without them.

My stop at a local strip mall was to be a brief one. I just needed to pick up some toothpaste and shaving cream … Gillette Foamy of course … and then be on my way. It was there I saw him. I would have guessed him to be between 45 and 50 years of age. He was a big guy with a broad smile and an ability to ring a Salvation Army bell as well as anyone I’d ever witnessed. He took big sweeping strokes and never broke cadence. He was a bell ringer’s bell ringer. As I walked past him, we made eye contact and I informed him that I would have something for his little red bucket on my way out. Once inside, I completed my transaction … the foamy was on sale … and quickly made my way toward the exit and the bell ringer. 

Upon exiting, I stopped and stuffed a couple of bills into the ringer’s bucket and as I did so, we made eye contact again.

“Thank you, sir,” he stated with a kind voice, “and may your every New Year’s wish come true.”

I laughed … softly, but out loud.

“Why is that funny?” he asked. “Don’t you have wishes that you’d like to have come true?” 

“Oh, I’ve got plenty,” I replied, “but I’m not convinced they’ll happen just because I wish for them.” 

“Well then,” he said, “can I let you in on a little secret that is guaranteed to help those wishes along?”

“Sure, why not?”

“Share them with someone … maybe even share them with a lot of people.”
“And this will guarantee that they come true?” I asked.

“It won’t guarantee that they come true, but it will greatly increase the odds. In fact, my friend, would you like a demonstration?”

“Sure,” I answered. “Go ahead.”

“OK,” he began. “Let me tell you what I am wishing for. I am wishing that you would reach back into your pocket, open up your wallet and stuff a few more of those green pieces of paper into my little bucket here. I have a feeling that you know how great the need is and that you are a good-hearted person who truly wants to help those who are less fortunate than you.”

He had me … how could I say no to a line like that? So I reached in, pulled out a few more green backs and crammed them into his bucket.

Gee, I thought as I drove off, maybe he is right. Maybe the reason so many of our wishes go unfulfilled is because we keep them to ourselves. So in honor of the new year that is now upon us, I am herein sharing my top ten holiday wishes with you. And, maybe, just maybe, sharing them with all the thousands of readers of USGlass will make them come true.

My first wish is for honesty … this is a tough wish. Straightforward, tell-it-like-it-is honesty is hard to come by. While it might be hard to find, wouldn’t it be great if, as an industry, we all began telling the truth to each other? 

My second wish is for money. Not money we’re not entitled to. Not money we haven’t earned honestly by the sweat of our brows, but money that is due us … in some cases long overdue to us. And if we got all this money owed to us, then we could pay all the people to whom we owe, and wouldn’t this world be a better place? A friendlier place? A happier place?

For my third wish, I want good weather in Chicago this summer when Paul Beiber (Floral Glass) comes to town to use the four Cubs tickets that he bamboozled from me during my recent trip to New York.

The fourth wish on my list is directed toward my many friends in the auto glass industry. I wish they could all just start getting along … stop suing each other and work together to salvage what is left of this mortally wounded industry. It’s not too late, but time really is running out and suing each other only benefits the lawyers.

The fifth wish is for a reasonable price increase for the primary manufacturers in all segments of the industry. Perhaps then we could get rid of this demeaning and insidious gimmick known as the “energy surcharge” that is a source of great aggravation for many of us. (For further reference, see wish number one above.)

My sixth wish is for a return to the eight-hour workday. You remember the eight-hour workday … it was that special time in history when people actually put in at least an honest eight hours of work each day. Far too many people in both the field and office have come to believe that six and one-half hours of effort deserves eight hours of pay. 

The seventh wish deals with a certain cult to be found in the mountainous state of Colorado. My wish for this cult (a.k.a. the Colorado Glazing Contractors Association) is that the next ten years are as good as their first ten. They are a marvel.

My eighth wish is that my seemingly endless search for an architectural metal supplier that is reliable, competitive and has the ability to take a joke will come to a successful conclusion before the end of the new year. As an aside, I am in the 27th consecutive year of wishing for this. 

My ninth wish is directed toward the people of New Jersey … I’m wishing that New York annexes you and ends your suffering.

My tenth and final wish … is that my beloved Cubs will somehow eek out enough victories to make it to the World Series where they will defeat Boston in six games.

Happy new year to you all, and if you pass a guy ringing a little brass bell next to a little red bucket, don’t put anything in there, I got you covered. 


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