The Stuffed Bear

In their book The Big Book of Jewish Humor (HarperCollins, 1981), William Novak and Moshe Waldoks tell of a woman from Brooklyn, New York, who, on her 80th birthday, decided to prepare her last will and testament. She went to her rabbi to make two final requests.

First, she insisted on cremation.

"What is your second request?" The rabbi asked.

"I want my ashes scattered over the Bloomingdale's store."

"Why Bloomingdale's?"

"Then I'll be sure that my daughters visit me twice a week," came the reply.

We all want to know that people care. We want to be sure that we are not alone in this world. For that reason, we are drawn to those who make us feel as if we matter.

I learned about a teacher named Robert Rasmussen, who has a unique way of showing concern to his students. He keeps a stuffed bear on his desk he calls the "Love Bear." He tells his high school students to come up and get the bear if they are feeling down or discouraged. Even the seniors!

Rasmussen reporter that, at first, a few of the girls took the bear to their seats. The boys muttered among themselves, "Is he for real? I mean, go get a Teddy bear? Come on!" But after a while they came forward, too. Football players - six-and-a-half feet tall and weighing 220 pounds - soon began to say to each other, "Gimme the bear!" And pass it among themselves.

Mr. Rasmussen has fine-tuned the art of showing concern to his students. When he spots a student who looks discouraged, he tosses the stuffed animal and says, "You look like you could use the bear." It is a way of saying, "I care. I don't have time to spend with you right now - I have a lesson to teach - but I really do care. I'm with you."

Is it any surprise? Mr. Rasmussen was voted Teacher of the Year at his school four years straight.

Customers, colleagues, family and friends all need to know that we are concerned. They want to know who cares. And they will respond to us better when they feel that they matter. Whatever else you tell people today, will you let them know who cares?

2000 Steve Goodier

Thanks to Life Support

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