A couple of weeks ago, my brother, Jeff, called me while I was at work.
Actually, his cell phone called me. Jeff had nothing to do with it.
Somehow, he unknowingly hit what I'm guessing is the Stephen speed dial button on his cell phone, and the timing was perfect.
It gave me a sort of "reality radio" glimpse into the work my brother does every day.
Jeff is a social worker. Since high school, Jeff has always loved working with and helping young people. Children living with learning or physical disabilities, those who have been physically or sexually abused, any and all kids. He spends his own money to buy them snacks, games, crafts. He takes them out for meals at their favorite restaurants when they're well behaved.
As a friend of his once said to me when Jeff was out of the room, "Your brother has a huge heart. He takes care of so many people and we all love him very much."
But I knew that. I knew how much he cares for the young people he works with, but I didn't quite understand how incredibly gifted he is as a social worker.
When I picked up the phone, I heard this student of Jeff's screaming. Then immediately, I heard my brother speak to him; he talked through the child's tantrum. Calmly, but firmly, he convinced the boy to lower his voice, think about his outburst and realize the possible consequences of that behavior if it continued.
I was stunned at Jeff's skill. I mean, the child seemed to go from spoiled, snotty Veruca Salt to sweet, loving Charlie Bucket after just a few words from my brother. Very few words.
The whole exchange happened in less than a minute.
Smooth and skillfull, fast and efficient - - that's the Rader boys. Well, Jeff anyway...
I was, and still am, amazed by my brother.
Happy Birthday, Jeff.