Sunday, March 05, 2006

Cameron Mounger-Nostalgia

Cameron Mounger and I have been friends since we were teenagers.Both of us liked music,and several years after we left school,Cam as we called him,became a disc jockey.

Recently he told me a story about the day he was down to his last dollar.It was the day his luck and life changed.

The story began in the early 1970's when 'Cam' was an announcer and disc jockey at a radio station in Texas and attained celebrity status.He met many country-music stars, and he enjoyed flying to Nashville-the centre of country music in the company plane with the station owner.

One night Cam was in Nashville for a show.After it was over,an acquaintance invited him backstage with all the stars."I didn't have any paper for autographs,so I took out a dollar note,"Cam told me."Before the night was over,I had virtually everystar's autograph.I gaurded the dollar note and carried it with me always.I knew I would treasure it forever."

Then the radio station where he was working was put up for sale and many employees found themselves without a job.Cam landed part time work at another station,and planned to hang on to this job,long enough for a full time position to open up.

The winter was extremely cold in Texas.The heater in Cam's old car emitted only a hint of warm air,the wind shield defroster didn't work at all.Life was hard,and Cam was broke.With the help of a friend who worked at a local supermarket, he occasionaly got food that had spoilt and was being thrown away."This kept my wife and me eating,but we still had no cash."

One morning as Cam left the radio station he saw an old man sitting in an old yellow car in the car park.Cam waved to him and drove away.When he came back to work that night,he noticed the car again,parked in the same place.After a couple of days,it dawned on him that the car never moved.The fellow in it always waved cordially to Cam as he came and went.What was the man doing sitting in his car for three days in the terrible cold and snow?

Cam discovered the answer next morning.This time the man rolled down the window.He introduced himself and said he had been in his car for days with no money or food,Cam recalled.He had come from out of town to take a job.But he arrived three days early and couldn't go to work right away.

Very reluctantly, he asked if he might borrow a dollar for a snack to get him by until next day,when he would start work and get a salary advance.I didn't have a dollar to lend him;I barely had the petrol to get home.I explained my situation and walked to my car,wishing I could have helped him.

Then Cam remembered the dollar which the country-music stars in Nashville had signed.He wrestled with his conscience a minute or two,pulled out his wallet and studied the note one last time.Then he walked back to the man and gave it to him."Somebody has written all over this,"the man said,but he didn't notice that the writing was dozens of autographs.He took the note.

"The very morning when I was back home trying not to think of what I had done, things began to happen,"Cam told me."The phone rang;a recording company wanted me to do an ad that paid $500.It sounded like million.In the next few days more opportunities came out of nowhere.Good things kept coming steadily,and soon I was back on my feet."

The rest as they say,is history.Things improved dramatically for Cam.His wife had a baby.Cam openend a successful car repair shop and built a nice home. And it all started that morning in the car park,when he parted with his last dollar.

Cam never saw that man in the old yellow car again.Sometimes he wonders if the man was a beggar or an angel.
It doesn't matter.What matters is that it was a test and Cam passed.

By now you would have understood that this is a story.It is indeed a story, given in my first ever national level exam.This is the comprehension passage from ENGLISH PAPER 1 ICSE-2000.

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