The truck driver was enjoying his meal at a local diner 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 of white hair had escaped from under her hat. She had good clean clothes, a bit old fashioned 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 quietly. But not this old lady.
There was the sound of running steps and the owner and all the waiters hurried from behind the counter to meet the old lady. - Mrs Cosby! They shouted, - How pleased we are to meet 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 coat before. And he had been driving across the country for quite a few years to say the least.
- And I shall bring you a little soup first. Then you can decide what it is you wish to eat this time, Alyssa smiled and returned to the kitchen. - But at 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 lemon? When Bob passed his table, the truck driver could not resist. - Excuse me… - 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 curiosity the truck driver waited, watching in awe how the waiters 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 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, he said and sat down. - Was this Mrs Cosby your teacher then? - 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? Trouble makers, that's what we were. Bob smiled.
- None of our teachers stayed for long. And so, one morning, the door to the class room 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 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 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. In 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 told how good-for-nothing 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 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 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 our strengths, what we had been good at. I thought no one would ever see anything good about me - I was lousy at school. But she commented on my courage, how punctual 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 transformed 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. 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 letter through the years were there, in hard covers.
- I want you each to keep this book and if ever during your life you feel unworthy, 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! Bob sighed.
- And we did. She turned a bunch of misfits 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 to 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 lasagne of yours for me? Yes, I'd really like to have some. You know you should sell that lasagne, 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 lasagne 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 to a customer.
- You tell about Mrs Cosby to everyone on purpose, I am sure. - Absolutely! 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 lasagne! Definitely one more point for Mrs Cosby!