Richard Todd Canton knows all too well that when tragedy strikes, you can either triumph or fail.
When he was accused of a sexual offense while working as a teacher's assistant, he looked right into the lens of a television camera and said he'd stood up for every kid in town, and he hoped that someone would stand up for him. Almost everyone did exactly what he asked.
A tireless worker, he's also been a waiter, a store clerk, a television host, an author, and a newspaper column writer-all at the same time. Long hours have been tough, but he's gotten satisfaction out of the work.
In this series of vignettes, he urges readers to:
• Never give in to labels or opinion; be your own person.
• Never give up on yourself or others will surely follow.
• Accept the things you cannot change like death; embrace
both good and bad memories, and keep marching.
• Make something good out of life's toughest situations.
Through a divorce and losing family members and friends, there were times Canton felt lost, but he's always managed to survive. You can, too, with the realizations in Life Doesn't Have to be Perfect to be Wonderful.
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Life Doesn't have to be Perfect to be Wonderful
this is my way
By Richard Todd Canton
iUniverseCopyright © 2015 Richard Todd
All rights reserved.
It's Great Being Todd!
I am Richard Todd Canton, Todd to friends and family, Canton to the young persons who knew me from school and Stupid to my ex-wife, he he.
I have to tell you I am a happy man. I am certainly a lucky man but mostly I am a man who is blessed. I am also smart enough to realize all of this and to be truly grateful for all I have and pay little attention to what I don't have.
I was born smack dab in the middle of a lovely family and grew up in a picturesque neighborhood. I breathed in fresh air and drank clean water. Summers were filled eating wild blueberries, climbing dog-berry trees and riding my bike across the vast marshes that surrounded our town. Every day was an adventure whether I realized it or not at the time. I learned to love nature but more than that I learned to respect it.
In my early years I formed a great love for the animal kingdom and it has continued throughout my life. I was taught to enjoy a sunset from our front lawn and told that at one time the same sky was filled with the smoke of war and that despite any losses then we all won in the long run.
I learned the true meaning of love in the arms of my mother and father and in the embrace of my siblings, one brother and five sisters, all of whom I hold in high regard. At this age all our childish and immature squabbles are a thing of the past and maybe, just maybe at fifty I have finally grown up. My mother said it would happen one day.
I have some of the most wonderful and interesting friends any man could ask for. I have those were there when I needed them and more that wished they were. That's good enough to me. During my journey I have had the honor of being asked to be a god-father to some amazing individuals. First my niece Sara whom I think of as my own daughter, to Jenna, Jaden and Julissa McIntyre and Kayla MacLellan. I was even the man of honor at my friend Annette's wedding.
I was privileged to be married to the only person I will ever truly love and as a result have remained a solitary man since our breakup at 28 years. Ouch my heart. If I could undo anything I think I might just pull my selfish head out of my ass and take a second look at the decisions I made and didn't make, but should have.
I suffered devastating blows in losing family members and friends to death that should never have happened when they did, starting with my father when I was eleven years old. It left me lonely and sad as a boy and lost as an adolescent. However with the help of an understanding and tolerant mother, I made it. Having so many sisters to influence and spoil me I am to say the least, sensitive.
I was taught at an early age to take every negative thing in my life and turn it into something positive. I do that same thing today but once a while I get discouraged and want to throw in the towel .though I never do it. My mother and her people, the resilient coal mining kind, taught me to never give up, no matter what. And no matter what has happened to me. I have survived having my life turned upside down and shaken with sex charges stemming from my working as a teacher's assistant. Not really sure how I got thru that one but here I am and I am still standing.
I watched my sister who unexpectedly became a widow battle breast cancer like a trooper and she got thru that. All we could do as a family is support her. In fact those of us who found our way into our mother's clutch has had our fair share of crap to face and yet we all seem to get through it all. I think we get a lot of this from her, our mother. A maverick of epic proportion, she, a widow at 43 showed us the way to go. In the end it was up to each and every one of us to decide if what she taught sank in. For some it did and others, not so much.
I am a strong, stubborn and mule headed person but I can be reached. I do not respond well to screaming or hollering and for heaven's sake, do not talk down to me. I am a diligent and competent worker and I hope to work until the day comes when I can do so no longer. I have dabbled in a few different careers but food service is first, last and always in the forefront of what I do best. I am a decent cook but I am much better at eating.
As much as I love eating, I love music. Not a big fan of TV I would rather have music playing in the background. I don't even have to mention anyone other than my favorite singer Anne Murray to explain that I am a fan of flawless melodies and rich voices that sing not only to my ears but straight to my heart.
I am a competitive person but mostly with myself constantly trying to outdo my last accomplishment.
I possess a great sense of humor and I believe I have good comedic timing. But let's be honest, not everyone finds me hilarious. I think if a person takes themselves too seriously they will seriously drive themselves and those around them nuts. However, take your craft seriously and it will seriously serve you well. A good work ethic and a good ethic for life are two very important virtues for any man, woman or child.
I have never intentionally harmed another human being and I am a firm believer in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Take a chance and see what happens. If you fall, learn from that. If you rise, learn from that too! I encourage everyone I meet and I learn something from every single one of them, how to or how not to act. I take the things I have learned and put them in story form and present them to the world. As a result, I have received some serious responses both positive and negative. I prefer the positive ones.
I am happy with who I am and despite any shortcomings, I am a good man. I have gotten knocked down more than once but I always get up again. I have been both a hero and a victim. I am more than all that, I am a happy man.
It really is great being Todd!CHAPTER 2
Life Doesn't Have to be Perfect to be Wonderful!
Now where do I begin? Well wherever it is I must remember to save my data, I lost a lot due to my own negligence as I am technically declined. However, it made me rethink what I had to say. I hope this is much more interesting. Whatever it is or where it comes from I am setting out to prove that life is really worth living no matter where you are or what you have been through. We have to learn to live in moments rather than time and to cherish these moments because in life we have to face a lot and some of it is not very nice. I do believe that we can get through anything as long as you surround yourself with supportive people and that anything can be handled one day at a time. Just sayin'....
I am a working man. In the last ten years I have worked as a waiter, a store clerk, a television host, an author, a newspaper column writer, and a teacher's assistant and that was all at the same time. I have made a pretty good name for myself by being genuine and kind in business and in life. So you can imagine when my world was turned upside down by an accusation from a student in junior high, just how surprised I was when the whole town rose in my defense, embraced me and supported me. I looked into the lens of a TV camera and stated that I had stood up for every kid in this town and I hope someone will stand up for me and by God above the whole town did, save one or two. I am humbled by the love and generosity sent my way and as a result I am stronger and more determined than ever to reach out to people with a kind and generous heart.
If I am not willing to allow anything to keep me down, then how about you?
Here's one of the most important things I have learned. Never give in to labels nor opinion, be your own person.CHAPTER 3
Never Give up on Yourself as
Others will Surely Follow!
I am a firm believer in the human race. Oh don't get me wrong, I have been let down on quite a few occasions but yet I cannot quite give up on mankind quite yet. I do not want them to give up on me either.
I have had my heart bruised by acts of violence against animals. I have witnessed selfish acts and some unselfish ones that continue to restore my faith in humanity. I have seen animal rescues, people pulled from burning vehicles and homes, fireman and police risking their own lives to save others and ordinary citizens performing acts of bravery that should never go unheralded.
Yet we continue to place Hollywood stars on pedestals. I agree with it but only if I see the good they have done with their fame and fortune. I consider it a responsibility for all successful and rich people to share the wealth be it monetary or their time. It is called giving back and I feel it sets a good example to us all.
I think everyone should be kind to young children and old people but why not kind to everyone? I especially think people should respect the animal kingdom. I like most people I meet but I sure hate those who perform unspeakable crimes against others in and out of the animal kingdom and I despise even more those who don't speak up. Stand up against them.
So here comes the advice. If you don't want a cat don't take home a kitten, same as a dog. Don't have kids if you don't want teenager saround because before you know it they are fully grown.
I feel that I am hopelessly romantic and I truly believe that love conquers all and that hate is is poison and it easily overtakes people. So don't get caught up in it. If you feel the people in your circle are bringing you down, get a new circle. It is just as easy to love as it is to hate.
Surround yourself by those who acknowledge and support you, it makes a world of difference.
Never give up on yourself or others will surely follow.CHAPTER 4
I am your server Todd, I am happy to do so..... but........don't push it!
Growing up in the food business like I did means an awful lot to me and makes up a huge chunk of who I am today. First of all, I am no stranger to hard work. I started out in a restaurant kitchen as a dishwasher, then a cook's assistant, a cook itself and then a server. It is in serving the public that I have found my true calling and where I am the most at home. I believe that I have the right type of personality to deal with the public. I feel that I am an easy going and humorous individual, and I treat my guest like guests, but don't push it.
A server is a very busy person with a lot on their mind. We are champions at multi-tasking. Most of us are friendly but some are not. We are knowledgeable and insightful. We are also tolerant and understanding where our guests are concerned. We can give directions, make suggestions, predict the weather, and even call a hockey game. We do all of this with a smile on our faces, but don't push it.
As a conscientious server I see the guests as just that, guests. I save all my best behavior and abilities for them. It is after all the guests that I work for not necessarily the restaurant. I have a petty good reputation in the food business and a good customer following. So if need be, I take them with me wherever I go.
Hot fresh food served in a clean friendly environment. Having said that, don't push it.
Servers are generally knowledgeable people with great skills for interacting with even the most difficult of people. Don't try to banter with a server because we have become experts at it. Well, go ahead but do so only if you are the type that can dish it out and can take it too.
Never assume that you know what we are going through or that you know how we are feeling. We, the servers are able to hide our broken hearts, our troubled personal lives and our drama. At least those of us worth our salt are able to. We can hold everything inside and put on a very brave face for the public, but don't push it.
Don't assume servers are working in this profession until something better comes along. Some of us are in it for the long haul.
We know our menu and we can answer just about any question. We know what's good, what is the best seller, what gets the most complaints and just about everything else, so ask us. A good server will guide you, a great one will tell you exactly where to go.
Servers like it when the public is on the ball. Guests quite often have coupons, gift cards and angles. Some are genuine and others want something for nothing. Never assume that the server cannot read the fine print on a coupon because they have already had twenty-seven of them this week alone. So talk to and check with them and everything will run smoothly.
Don't ever ask a server about tips. First of all it is none of your business and it really is personal. Don't push it!
Servers enjoy the company of regular customers but not complacent ones. We love it when our guest knows what they want and we soon become familiar with those we can make suggestions to and those we can not. We have had our fair share of whiners, grumblers and those that just plain nasty. We are up for the challenge. The kind and elderly make up for any of the challenging ones. We can handle them all, but don't push it.
The server hears everything you say and everything else that is said at the table despite the fact that we are not looking directly into your face at the time. Please be aware that we hear every comment whether it is positive or negative. People do not realize that they might be talking about something delicate and just who is hearing it. Now don't get me wrong, most of us are discrete and allow it to roll off but others are curious to hear more. We can also hear you as we walk away. It's our loaded gun, it decides whether or not you are classed as a difficult table or not. So don't push it!
Here's your job as a guest. Make yourself comfortable and scan the menu. I, as the server will take your drink order while you decide what to eat. Seniors like tea and the hotter the better. One teabag can take about four pots of hot water, did you know that? Pop goes great with burgers, fries and such. I will keep your glass full. Then are are those who only drink water. Water comes in many forms in a restaurant and has many names. There is bottled water, sparkling water and flavoured water. Then there is good old tap water also known as 'just water', H2O, water on the rocks, Adam's Ale, water with ice, straight up water, lemon water, water for now, the clear stuff and just plain water.
Don't ever get me wrong where my guests are concerned. I love my job and I have cultivated a considerable collection of loyal customers and I appreciate every single one of them. If I do come across a tough nut or two I personally challenge myself to win them over.
Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't, such is life.CHAPTER 5
Death becomes you
Maybe it's just me but I am sure that an awful lot of good people have passed away and some of them meant a lot to me. I am no stranger to grief. After losing my parents I can safely say nothing hurts as much. No, I take that back, losing a pet can be just as devastating as anything else.
Death is something I fear. My father died when I was a little boy. It seemed to me that he missed a lot over the years. I don't want that to happen to me I was devastated by him leaving us.
I am a lucky man, I have escaped death on a few occasions and it has made me very grateful. What a waste to die at any age and leave a life unlived. That in itself is the real shame.
If you allow grief to take over you that is exactly what it will do, take over. Grieving is a part of life just like happiness, sadness, the blues. They are all human emotions and most are felt on a daily basis. That's okay! Fight them, if you allow a certain emotion take over it wins and you unfortunately, lose. I think you get what I am saying. Don't let death become you.
If you wallow in sadness and pity you will find that your friends will head for the hills and you will find it increasingly difficult to find a sympathetic ear. As a boy suffering the loss of my father, it sent me into a deep depression. I longed for answers and for some justice. I turned naturally to my surviving parent for comfort. Thank God that woman was there. This is what she taught me. Take all your emotions, the sadness, loss and grief and put them into an imaginary photo album, close it and place it on a high shelf, out of the way. Then, once in a while, take it down, open it up and feel all those emotions but when you are done, close the book and put it back on that high shelf until the next time. Pretty smart eh?
Excerpted from Life Doesn't have to be Perfect to be Wonderful by Richard Todd Canton. Copyright © 2015 Richard Todd. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse.
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