The Levison Letter


What I learned from my father
Father's Day, June 18, 2017

It's Father's Day and I'm thinking about my dad who died many years ago.
I was around ten years old when my parents took me along to dinner at a swanky restaurant on New York's Upper East Side.
Mid-way through the meal, I went to the men's room and noticed an old man sitting on a stool near the sinks, next to a pile of neatly folded towels.
When it came time for me to wash up, the old man slowly got up, opened a towel and handed it to me. I said "thank you" and was about to walk out when the man said, "That's it? Nothing for me?"
I didn't give him any money and didn't answer but went back to my parents' table and told my parents what happened.
I indignantly told them that I hadn't asked for the towel and that this man had no right to ask me for money.
That's when my father turned to me and explained, as he would hundreds of times, how the world worked and how I was expected to handle myself.
My dad patiently and gently explained that this was how the old man made some money and that he depended on tips to survive. My father gave me a dollar bill and instructed me to go back to the men's room, give the attendant the money, apologize, and explain that I didn't know I was supposed to give him something.
I did, and I learned a small lesson.
This memory from my childhood may not sound like a big deal to you. For me it is emblematic of all the things, big and small, that my father taught me over the years.
About what it means to be a standup guy who does the right thing. About the importance of being a mensch.
Thanks Dad. And rest in peace.

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