As mentioned in a recent post, a good way to judge someone’s character is by how he or she treats those who cannot do anything for them. What’s interesting is that for the person doing the “treating,” this goes much further than just being a nice person. The results can be life-changing, as you’ll read in this adaptation from the book Presidential Anecdotes by Paul F. Boller, Jr., as described in the booklet, “Bits & Pieces.”
“William McKinley, the 25th U.S. President, once had to choose between two equally qualified men for a key job. He puzzled over the choice until he remembered a long-ago incident.
”On a rainy night, McKinley had boarded a crowded streetcar. One of the men he was now considering had also been aboard, though he didn’t see McKinley. Then an old woman carrying a basket of laundry struggled into the car, looking in vain for a seat. The job candidate pretended not to see her and kept his seat. McKinley gave up his seat to help her.
Remembering this episode, which he called ‘this little omission of kindness,’ McKinley decided against the man on the streetcar. Our decisions – even the small, fleeting ones – tell a lot about us.”
Fascinating story. On a smaller scale, I was recently speaking with an acquaintance around the corner from his store, when two people, who were obviously salespeople, walked in to attempt to sell their wares. There being no one in the store, I told him I’d wait while he tended to the salespeople. He responded that he wasn’t going to; he wasn’t interested in speaking to them and that they’d figure out soon enough that there was no one there.
Being just a short walk from his office, I suggested he go and just say hello or at least acknowledge them, letting them know that he wasn’t interested in talking business at this time.
He replied, “They’re just salespeople. Who cares?”
Here’s my feeling: Even if his unkindness to other human beings didn’t bother me just out of principle (which it did), how could I ever justify referring business to him, knowing that, the moment he saw no monetary use in the person I referred, he might be just as uncaring, and perhaps even insulting to them?
Whether you call it, “Karma” in the language of Buddhists, “Midda K’negged Midda” (measure for measure) in Hebrew, “What goes around, comes back around” in English, or anything else in any other language, being nice is not just the right way to be . . . it’s the most practical way to be, as well.
Just ask the man who was turned down for a presidential appointment because of a “little omission of kindness.” Then again, he probably never knew, just as my acquaintance will never know of the referrals from me he’ll never receive.