Doc Stevens on Meat Eating, Vegetarianism & Veganism

Thursday, May 28, 2009 12:36 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: My friend Clive in Hemel Hempstead has been vegan for the past few years and has finally convinced me to cut out all meat eating. Clive says, "Don't eat anything that had a face." That's his rule. He may go for the occasional clam or oyster, I don't know, but that is his rule. If it had a face, he will not eat it.

I like me fish n' chips, so to ask me to cut out all meat is a big deal. I finally have been without meat for perhaps four weeks, and I think I feel better for it. I still eat mountains of chips, however. The part of Clive's argument that persuaded me to go vegetarian is the violence involved. He asked me how I could in good conscience eat something that had to die so I could live. It hardly seems fair that a cow should have to die so that I could live, does it? Why should a fish die, just so I could have an order of fish n' chips?

I came to peace with my decision, and decided to present Doc Stevens and Marilyn with the idea of becoming vegetarians or even vegans. Here is how that conversation went:

Tondeleo: Doc, since the last time we got together, I've gone vegetarian! That means I don't eat meat anymore! I only eat vegetables. It is less violent, and I feel that it is wrong for something else to have to die so that I could live. I think that you and Marilyn ought to consider it.

Doc: So WHY ain't you eatin' meat? You don't want nothin' to DIE?

Tondeleo: That's pretty much it, Doc. The less death on the earth, the better. So I am doing my part to save life on earth. It's a noble thing, really...

Doc: Well, it's noble if you don't think about it, and if you ain't never done no farmin'. For somethin' to die so somethin' else can live is a part of nature. A ant eats a termite to live. A lizard eats the ant. A bird eats the lizard and a cat eats the bird. An' the Chinese carry out might eat the cat. That's how it's set up, Tondy. Somethin' dies so somethin' else can live. Country folks all know that. We LIVE that. But you can do what you like.

Tondeleo: Well, I don't like the idea of taking a life so I can live.

Doc: I unnerstan, Tondy. Takin' a life so you can live sounds bad. But even the Lord gave his life so we could live. That's the way it is. It takes life to give life.

But eatin' just veggies don't mean you ain't killin' nothin' when you eat. When I plow a field to plant vegetables, more things die than if I shot a cow for you to eat. In even one acre of ground, when it gets plowed, hundreds of bugs die. Three of four snakes'll die. Mouse nests with baby mice will be plowed under. It might kill a dozen field mice. A couple of turtles'll get plowed under. You're killin' maybe a hundred things just to plant a acre of food. And they ain't always fast or easy deaths. Some of it is pretty slow.

"But eatin' just veggies don't mean you ain't killin' nothin' when you eat. When I plow a field to plant vegetables, more things die than if I shot a cow for you to eat."

When you eat a cow, it is only one death. Cows don't step on snakes and turtles and mice and all that. Most everything gets outta their way. When a cow is butchered, it's pretty quick, too. I ain't changin' your mind, just fillin' out your information.

Like I ain't eat much commercial raised beef cause it's full of hormones and chemicals and they feed them cows corn. Cows ain't supposed to eat corn and cain't really digest it. Feedin'a cow a diet of corn'll kill it in less than a year. It makes acid and they die of acidosis if they ain't butchered afore they die of it. A cow is made to eat grass. I eat local grown cows. I eat more deer. Deer ain't full of hormones and chemicals. And it's free.

You gotta watch out for farm raised fish, too, Tondy. They put growth chemicals in their food to make 'em grow quicker. You ain't wantin' that. neither. Eat fresh fish. Or you can eat veggies like you're doin'.

Guess what, though Tondy? Pickin' out what kinds of food you will and won't eat is a luxury. Most of us is happy just to eat anything. I ain't too big on Ramen noodles but I eat 'em if that's all we got.My favorite food is veinson and a side of greens and maybe a potato. But I cain't always get what I want. So I settle for eatin' what the good Lord provides.

Now if you got the money to buy just what you want, then I say more power to ya. It ain't hurt nobody an' it makes you happy. Go for it.

Tondeleo: So what are you saying, Doc? Are you actually SUPPORTING me be a vegetarian? I can't believe that!

Doc: I'm just sayin' a man can eat what he wants to eat. If you like veggies, eat 'em. If you like meat, eat it, but be careful where it comes from. But don't think that eatin' veggies saves more life than eatin' meat. It don't. You just gotta know that for one thing to live, somethin' else is gonna have to die. It's sad, but that's life.

I ain't care what you eat, just don't make it a issue for everybody else. Don't come off soundin' like you're better an' smarter than everybody else cause you is a vegetarian now. You eat what you eat, an' me an' Marilyn eat what we eat. Sometimes it'll be the same thing. Tonight we're havin' greens and pinto beans for supper. That's what we're havin' because that's what we got. Ain't makin' no statements, just makin' supper.

Doc Stevens and Marilyn take me to Bert's 50's Diner and teach me about "tipping" the servers.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 9:01 AM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: Doc and Marilyn have been trying for more than a year to get me to eat with them at a particular "sit down" restaurant down in Saint Mary's County, MD. For once my schedule allowed me the opportunity to have tea with him and Marilyn. It was more than an hour from Nanjemoy at a Fifties themed restaurant called Bert's 50's Diner. . This is Doc's absolute favourite place to eat when he has the money and the time to go in for a sit down meal. He has been trying to get me to go with him and Marilyn for months. The picture of Bert's 50's Diner below was taken by Ron Patterson.

bertsdiner When we arrived, I could see why Doc is so in awe of it. It is a very American place, with a a real American 50's hot rod mounted on the roof, complete with a flamed paint job. Doc says the car is a 1950 Mercury, and that the right rear quarter panel of the car is wrecked making it totaled (a write off) several years ago. Bert, the owner of Bert's 50's Diner is a car lover. He bought it and had it mounted on the roof of his Diner as an attention getter.

Doc says that he could have fixed that car, because back at the time it happened, one of his fellow Nanjemoy residents, a man called Streamliner Wedding had a Mercury just like it parked in the woods beside the breaker's yard (junkyard) he used to operate there in Nanjemoy. Doc says he could have bought the whole car for maybe 300 dollars back then. It has since been crushed and Streamliner is dead, too.

When we got to Bert's, there was a a small queue of people waiting for an available table, but we only waited five minutes or so. When our server escorted us to the table, Doc was in his glory, pointing out all the automobile paraphernalia on the walls: Old registration plates, automobile adverts, and magazine covers from the 1950's. There were also a lot of 50's music items on the walls - photos of Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and other 50's icons.

The menu looked as though it was from the 1950's as well. Doc helped me order a memorable meal. I had (with all apologies to my fellow countrymen) sweet iced tea, which is not bad once you tell your taste buds that this is not tea at all, it is just a syrupy sweet American beverage served American style with plenty of ice. To me it is reminiscent of treacle and water.

Bert's serves huge portions at excellent prices. I wanted to order one of Bert's huge 30" pizza's, but Marilyn said we'd eaten enough pizza the last few weeks and that she didn't want any. I have never seen larger pizza's than the ones at Bert's. Certainly in the U.K., we never have these amounts of food available! Actually, we would find it a bit gauche, but I would never tell that to Doc or Marilyn. To them, having huge amounts of food is nothing less than a fulfillment of their greatest dreams!

I was ready to order smothered steak, but Doc steered me away from it. He said he wasn't sure of eating meat that was smothered, that really you can only trust meat that was shot or killed right, at a slaughterhouse. After thinking about the poor cow being smothered, I was rather put off and ordered Bert's Famous Fish sandwich for $6.25, which included the "fries" [chips]. I managed to get through most of the glass of "sweet tea," which is served American style, at the same time as the meal instead of afterwards as is done in Britain.

Marilyn ordered the All American BLT sandwich with a side order of chips, and of course, iced tea. She had only one free refill of the chilled sweetened tea based beverage.

Doc ordered a Porky Pig Barbecue "submarine" sandwich, which is a sandwich served on a roll that is nearly 12 " long. The meat is pork and the sandwich had cole slaw on it, as well as sliced onions, tomatoes, lettuce, tomato sauce and mayonnaise. This was only $6.25 He also ordered the "full tank" of french fried onion rings, for $3.95. He had two large "free" refills of the sweet iced tea, and finished it all with a loud burp, and considered having ice cream afterwards!

In the States, the drinks are cheaper than in UK, ($2.25 each at Bert's) and that includes as many free refills as you can pour into your body. The portions in the States are easily three times larger than what we get in the UK, and the prices are about half what we pay. So, it is no wonder that Americans, even poor ones tend to be overweight. It is cheap, easy and tasty to become fat in the States. I have put on nearly one stone since coming to the States more frequently this past year!

Also, in the States, for men, it is considered "macho" to be a bit on the portly side. They don't consider themselves "fat" or obese, but rather will refer to themselves as becoming a "good sized boy" or a "pretty fair sized boy," no matter how many decades have passed since the individual WAS a boy.

Our server was polite and friendly, much more chatty than we would Berts2generally have in the UK. Marilyn explained that a large part of the friendliness (which I found nearly off-putting) was in order to get a larger "tip" at the end of the meal. Doc liked her and she realised rather early on that he was the one who was going to be paying, so she paid particular attention to him. At the end of the meal, the bill was roughly only $22 for the three of us. Doc pulled out a $20 dollar bill, four one dollar bills and $5 bill. He told her she'd done a good job and that the extra was for her.

I could not comprehend paying a $7 tip on a bill that was approximately only $20. That is nearly 30%! Doc explained, "Tondy, that girl works hard for her money, and they don't even pay minimum wage at restaurants, these people depend on tips. Some people don't leave nothin', or just a couple of dollars.

"I always tip good. You need to be a giver, not a taker. And you don't never go home at night and wish you hadn't tipped so much. But if you tipped cheap, you might go home and feel bad and cain't do nothin' about it. Always give 'em more than they expect, 'cause there is always some tightwad who tries to chisel them outta their money.

"There ain't nothing attractive about a cheap man. Remember that, Tondy. Being a giver is a good thing. Being cheap ain't nothing that no one likes to be around. It's about havin' style. I'm tryin' to help you have style, Tondy. Give more than you have to, and do it with a smile. It'll help other people what's tryin' to pay they's bills an' it'll make you feel better about yourself. A man needs to do all he can to feel good about hisself these days."

Doc Stevens on Bosses, Attitude, Teamwork and Good Luck.

Friday, May 8, 2009 12:01 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: I was going through some of my recordings of talks with Doc and ran across this short little story. It typifies Doc's sense of humor and initial aggressive attitude, which mellows if you don't overreact immediately. A lot of what Doc says is purely for effect, or because he likes to hear it said, and nobody else is saying it. Here it is:

Doc: "So the boss man is tryin' to get me an' the other boys what worked there to come in on Saturdays and Sundays cause he cain't figure out how to make enough money Monday through Friday, and that's with over charging the customers, and payin' us as little as he can get by with, and even then not payin' us every week.

He says to us on Friday afternoon, as we was pickin' up our pay, "Hey, y'all's comin' in to work tomorrow and Sunday. Everybody is."

The other guys just moaned under their breath, but I weren't comin' in. I had a lady's car to fix on Saturday, and needed to go to the laundromat on Saturday nite. Sunday morning I was helpin' my buddy pack his things up, over to the trailer park so he could move, Sunday afternoon, I was invited to a Gospel concert and picnic with free food. I ain't had no time, Tondy. So I said "I ain't comin' in. I ain't got time to work here seven days a week."

Suddenly I heard myself sayin' "Well, in the word 'time' there's a I and a ME, so I guess I am gonna have to quit to go work for ME..."

Boss Man points to a poster on his office wall. One of them ones with a picture of a eagle or a mountain and then at the bottom has a fancy sayin' so bosses can take a vantage of they's workers.

He says, "Look at that, Doc. It says, 'There is no "I" in team.' What do you think of that? It isn't about YOU it is about US. We're a team and there is no I in team.

Suddenly I heard myself sayin' "Well, in the word 'time' there's a I and a ME, so I guess I am gonna have to quit to go work for ME, if you start this workin' all the TIME stuff."

An' you know what? He let us all not HAVE to work on Saturday an' Sunday, if we already had plans. An' he asked us not to plan much for the next two weekends. He were a pretty good ol' boy after all, if you pushed him. No doubt.

I WERE kinda scared for a minute he was gonna fire me for sayin' that!