Information Please!

When I was quite young, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood. I remember the polished, old case fastened to the wall. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked to it.

Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person. Her name was 'Information Please' and there was nothing she did not know. 'Information Please' could supply anyone's number and the correct time.

My personal experience with the genie-in-a-bottle came one day while my mother was  visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer.The pain was terrible, but there seemed no point in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy. I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway. The telephone!

Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the parlour and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the parlor and held it to my ear.

'Information, please,' I said into the mouthpiece just above my head.

A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear. 'Information.'

'I hurt my finger...' I wailed into the phone. The tears came readily enough now that I had an audience.

'Isn't your mother home?' came the question.

'Nobody's home but me,' I blubbered.

'Are you bleeding?' the voice asked.

'No,' I replied. 'I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts.'

'Can you open the icebox?' she asked.

I said I could. 'Then chip off a little bit of ice and hold it to your finger,' said the voice.

After that, I called 'Information Please' for everything I asked her for help with my geography, and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped me with my math. She told me my pet chipmunk that I had caught in the park just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts. Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary, died. I called, 'Information Please', and told her the sad story. She listened, and then said things grown-ups say to soothe a child. But I was not consoled. I asked her, 'Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?'

She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, Paul, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in.'

Somehow I felt better. 

Another day I was on the telephone, 'Information Please' 'Information, ' said in the now familiar voice.

'How do I spell fix?' I asked.

All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. When I was nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston. I missed my friend very much. 'Information Please' belonged in that old wooden box back home and I somehow never thought of trying the shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall. As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me. Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle. I had about a half-hour or so between planes. I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then without thinking what I was doing, I dialled my hometown operator and said, 'Information Please'.

Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well. 'Information. ' I hadn't planned this, but I heard myself saying, 'Could you please tell me how to spell fix?'

There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken answer, 'I guess your finger must have healed by now.'

I laughed, 'So it's really you,' I said.

'I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time?' I wonder,' she said, 'if you know how much your call meant to me. I never had any children and I used to look forward to your calls.'

I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister. 'Please do', she said. 'Just ask for Sally.' Three months later I was back in Seattle. A different voice answered, 'Information. '

I asked for Sally.

'Are you a friend?' she said.

'Yes, a very old friend,' I answered.

'I'm sorry to have to tell you this,' she said. 'Sally had been working part-time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago.'

Before I could hang up she said, 'Wait a minute, did you say your name was Paul?'

'Yes,' I answered. 'Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you called. Let me read it to you.'

The note said, 'Tell him there are other worlds to sing in. He'll know what I mean.'

I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.

Never underestimate the impression you may make on others! You just never know!

Whose life have you touched today!

Author unknown


A young man wished to marry the farmer's beautiful daughter. He went to the farmer to ask his permission. The farmer looked him over and said,

"Son, go stand out in that field. I'm going to release three bulls, one at a time. If you can catch the tail of any one of the three bulls, you can marry my daughter."

The young man stood in the pasture awaiting the first bull.

The barn door opened and out ran the biggest, meanest-looking bull he had ever seen. He decided that one of the next bulls had to be a better choice than this one, so he ran over to the side and let the bull pass through the pasture out the back gate.

The barn door opened again. Unbelievable. He had never seen anything so big and fierce in his life. It stood pawing the ground, grunting, slinging slobber as it eyed him. Whatever the next bull was like, it had to be a better choice than this one. He ran to the fence and let the bull pass through the pasture, out the back gate.

The door opened a third time. A smile came across his face. This was the weakest, scrawniest little bull he had ever seen. This one was his bull. As the bull came running by, he positioned himself just right and jumped at just the exact moment. He grabbed... but the bull had no tail!

Life is full of opportunities. Some will be easy to take advantage of, some will be difficult. But once we let them pass (often in hopes of something better), those opportunities may never again be available. So always grab the first opportunity.

The Gold Ring

The young man was climbing the hill, slowly a step at a time. His bowed head seemed to indicate that something was bothering him. Perhaps he was lonely, or discouraged. He was coming to seek guidance from the wise man that lived on the hill on the outskirts of town.

 Entering the counselor's house, the young man found him reading, deep in thought.

"Excuse me, sir," he said hesitantly.  The old man lifted his eyes. Timidly, with a courteous bow and a voice of desperation, the young man said, "I have come seeing your help … sir." After a short pause, he continued, "I have dreams that I believe I can achieve, but no one thinks I have the ability to reach them. People see little value in me."

The old man continued his reading. After a while, he said, "Before I can give you any counsel, I need your help. Are you willing?"Somewhat disappointed for having his own needs ignored, the young man nevertheless responded, "I will try, sir."

The wise man stood up. Stretching himself a bit, he said, "I may need to pay a large debt in the future, for which I will need money. Here is my gold ring. Take it to the market and find out how much I can get for it, but don't settle for anything less than five gold coins. There is my horse. Go!"

The young man held onto the ring tightly and upon reaching the market place, went from stall to stall, offering it in exchange for cash. The fruit seller ignored him. The clothes merchant told him that he was not interested. The farmer selling chickens continued to bargain with a customer and waved him away.

Finally, the young man reached the pig seller's stall. After examining the ring for a while in his dirty hand, he said with a covetous smirk, "Tell the owner that I man be willing to give him five bronze coins for this."

"I fulfilled your assignment, sir," said the young man upon his return. "No one in the market is willing to give five gold coins for your beautiful ring."

"That's fine," responded the wise man. Now we know how little the market people value this ring. Go to the jeweler in town and show it to him."  

When the jeweler saw the gold ring, he quickly stood up and used a silk handkerchief to hold it carefully. Bring it under a lamp, he examined it in detail with a magnifying glass. "A masterpiece," he said softly. "If the owner if the ring is in hurry, I will buy it for 10 gold coins myself. But if he gives me time to bring out all its beauty, I shall find a wealthy customer willing to pay at least 20 gold coins for it."

The wise man listened attentively to the report the happy young man brought back and then told him, "Don't let the ignorant tell you the value of something they know nothing about. Listen only to the appraisal of the skilled specialist, the one who can recognize the true value of a master artist's work."And with a smile, the wise man placed the golden ring back on his finger and waved the young man good-bye.

The Buddha on Abuse

A tale is told about the Buddha, Gautama (563-483BC), the Indian prince and spiritual leader whose teachings founded Buddhism. This short story illustrates that every one of us has the choice whether or not to take personal offence from another person's behavior.

It is said that on an occasion when the Buddha was teaching a group of people, he found himself on the receiving end of a fierce outburst of abuse from a bystander, who was for some reason very angry.

The Buddha listened patiently while the stranger vented his rage, and then the Buddha said to the group and to the stranger, "If someone gives a gift to another person, who then chooses to decline it, tell me, who would then own the gift? The giver or the person who refuses to accept the gift?"

"The giver," said the group after a little thought. "Any fool can see that," added the angry stranger.

"Then it follows, does it not," said the Buddha, "Whenever a person tries to abuse us, or to unload their anger on us, we can each choose to decline or to accept the abuse; whether to make it ours or not. By our personal response to the abuse from another, we can choose who owns and keeps the bad feelings."

How do you Judge People?

One truck driver was doing his usual load delivery at a mental hospital, by parking his vehicle beside an open drain.

He discovered a flat tyre when he was about to return from the mental hospital. He jacked up the truck and removed the flat tyre to fix the spare tyre. When he was about to fix the spare tyre, he accidentally dropped all the 4 bolts in the open drain.

As he cannot fish the bolts in the open drain, he started to panic as to what should be done?

Just then, one patient happened to walk past him and asked the driver as to why he was looking troubled.

The driver thought to himself, since there is nothing much he can do or this mental joker can. Just to keep the bugging away, the truck driver informed the whole episode to the mental patient and gave a helpless look.

The patient just laughed at the truck driver and said you just cannot even fix such a simple problem? No wonder you are destined to remain a truck driver for life".

The truck driver was astonished to hear such a compliment from a mental guy. "Here is what you can do" said the mental guy... "take one bolt from each of the remaining 3 tyres / wheels and fix it on to this tyre. Then drive down to the nearest workshop and replace the missing ones. Isn't it simple my friend".

The truck driver was so impressed with this quick fix answer and asked the patient "how come you are so smart and intelligent and you are here at the mental hospital?"

The patient replied "hello friend! I stay here because I am crazy but not stupid".

No wonder, there are some people, who behave like the Truck Driver, thinking that others are just stupid. So, guys, though you all are learned and wise, but, just watch out, there could be some CRAZY guys in our professional / personal lives, who could give us lot of quick fixes and brush our wisdom.

Moral of the story : Just do not conclude that you know everything and do not judge people by mere looks / attire stature or academic background.

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