The Lyrical Fate of a Paper Plate

“I’d buy you a smile in a minute but would you wear it?
  If you had one moment to spare would you come down and share it?
  I want you out on the streets making a noise for everybody
  I want to hear your voice up above the crowd and the noise
  Down in the Bowery, Down in the Bowery.”
Tuesday night I arrived for a speaking event to realized I’d stepped up to the plate with two strikes against me:
   1) we had 150 guests packed into a cavernous concrete-block gymnasium
   2) using the microphone made the echoing sound even worse
Knowing the effect that a 25-minute speech, sans microphone, would have on my throat (read: not very good), I became concerned that my speech was not going to be heard, or received, very well.
Any fan of baseball can tell you, though, that sometimes having the greatest fans in the stands will inspire a player to focus, reach down deep and make something special happen.
In this case, the audience consisted of Meals on Wheels NH volunteers, supervisors and board members…and they are among the greatest people you could have supporting you!
Instead of anchoring myself at the far end of the room, I walked the pathways between every table, giving everyone a front-row seat at some point in the speech.
We laughed as I shared my stories of the heart-warming friendships I have already made (I’m a recently signed rookie volunteer), stories of how important they are to the people whom they serve, and how appreciated they are for reaching down deep every week and making magic happen (more than HALF the meals delivered here in NH are delivered by volunteers, on their own time & their own dime).
This event quickly became one of my favorite speaking experiences…ever!
As the evening drew to a close,  a gentleman handed me a folded paper plate, looked me in the eye and said “You need to go to your computer and find the song ‘Down in the Bowery’ by Alejandro Escovedo”.
He recited the lyrics shown above, tapped his finger on my chest and said “Your voice was heard above the noise tonight”. He then handed me a piece of candy from his table, stating “I am giving you this smile, will you wear it?”.
I wore that smile all the way home that night and again the next morning as I searched YouTube for the song. With tears in my eyes, I watched as Escovedo explained to his audience how he wrote the lyrics for his children, to impart wisdom to them as they matured and ventured into the world.
I then realized the impact that one person, with scribbled words on a paper plate, had on my life.  
His message was the home run that the fans in the stands (and me, the guy at the plate) were looking for…and together, we CRUSHED it!
Who will hand YOU a paper plate today?
Will YOU hand one to someone else?
If this message has given you a smile, will YOU wear it…and share it?
Will YOU go out in the streets and make some beautiful noise today, and be heard about the crowd?
To learn more about Steve Gamlin’s speaking events, books, CD’s and more, please visit
You may also find Steve’s latest motivational book “OH YEAH! (Another Quote Book)” available for Kindle at


One comment

  1. Steve,
    You’re funny,powerful speech truly was a home run that night! Thanks again for inspiring our volunteers to get up and do it again and again…


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