Lessons for Life
These stories have been around for quite a while. Their message, though simple, can still be a cornerstone for the way we see those around us.
During the second month of a small college, a professor gave a pop quiz. One very conscientious student breezed through the questions until the last one: "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?" Surely this was some kind of joke. The cleaning woman was often around at the end of classes. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50's, but who would know her name?
The student handed in the paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward the total 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."
The student never forgot that lesson or her name: Dorothy.
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 is 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… She realized, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.
In 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 new opportunities.
Many years ago, in a hospital, there was a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and usually fatal 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.
He hesitated for only a moment before taking a deep breath, "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 did all the staff, seeing the color returning to her cheek. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away".
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.
Akavia ben Mehalalel said, “Consider three things and you will not miss the mark. Know from where you have come, to where you are heading, and before whom you will give justification and accounting.” Pirkei Avot 3:1
Rabbi Samuel Seicol