one time in life, I was given a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and
had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: "What is
the first name of the woman who cleans the school?" Surely this was
some kind of joke. I had seen her cleaning woman several times. She was
tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name?
I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class
ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz
grade. "Absolutely," said the professor. "In your careers,
you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention
and care, even if all you do is smile and say 'hello'." I've never
forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Susheela.
Second Important Lesson
the rain one night, at 11:30 PM, an older black woman was standing on the
side of an highway trying to endure a lashing rain storm. Her car had
broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to
flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her, generally
unheard of in the conflict-filled 60's. The man took her to safety, helped
her get assistance and put her into a taxi cab. She seemed to be in a big hurry,
but wrote down his address and thanked him.
Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a
giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was
attached. It read: "Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway
the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my
spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my
dying husband's bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for
helping me and unselfishly serving others." Sincerely, Mrs. Smitha
Third Important Lesson
remember those who serve you. In the days when an ice cream sundae cost
much less, a 10 year old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a
table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. "How much is
an ice cream sundae?" he asked. "Fifty cents," replied the
waitress. The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the
coins in it.
"Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?" he inquired. By
now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing
impatient. "Thirty-five cents," she brusquely replied." The
little boy again counted his coins. "I'll have the plain ice
cream," he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the
table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and
left. When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the
table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and
five pennies You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he wanted enough
left to leave her a tip.
Fourth Important Lesson
ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid
himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of
the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked
around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but
none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.
Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching
the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone
to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally
succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a
purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained
many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for
the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned
what many of us never understand. Every obstacle presents an opportunity to
improve our condition.
Fifth Important Lesson
When it Counts Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital,
I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and
serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood
transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the
same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.
The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the
little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw
him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying,
"Yes, I'll do it if it will save her.."
As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled,
as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew
pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a
trembling voice, "How long until I die?" Being young, the little
boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give
his sister all of his blood in order to save her. You see understanding and
attitude, after all, is everything.