I really like short inspiring stories, most of these stories teach us an important fact of life. On this page is a collection of some inspiring stories and poems that I have collected over the years. Most of the stories are public domain, they are very old and the origin is sometimes not clear. Some of the stories are originally English and some of these stories I have translated from Dutch to English. Read these short stories and let them amuse you, lighten up your day or give you something to think about. Regards, Hein Pragt
A story about trust.
(By: Unknown, translation: Hein Pragt)
A baker and a farmer had an agreement, the baker got butter from the farmer and the farmer got bread from the baker. After a while the baker noticed that the pieces of butter from the farmer, that should weigh three pounds, became lighter and his scales agreed with him. He got angry and went to court to complained about his butter supplier. “The baker claims your pieces of butter do not have the required weight” the judge said to the farmer, “this piece of butter should weigh three pounds, but it weighs much less.”
“That’s impossible, Mr. Judge” the the farmer said, “I check the weight every time.” The judge than said: “Maybe your weights are incorrect!”. The farmer replied in dumb amazement: “My weights? I do not have any weights, I never use weights.” The judge replied: “So if you do not have weights, how do you check the weight of the butter?”. The farmer said: “Quite simply, I get my bread from the baker and he gets butter from me. A loaf of bread weighs three pounds so put my butter on the left scale and a bread on the right side!”
(By: Unknown, translation: Hein Pragt)
A guru advised his students to meditate three times a day. Most of his students watched him with some burdened ands most of their comments were almost identical: “I will try.” The guru nodded wisely and while he walked back to his seat, he dropped the book he had under his arm and it fell to the floor. He turned around, bent over, reached for the book, but could not get it. Time after time he grabbed but could not get the book. His students looked at him in amazement. “You try to pick it up,” he said to one of the students. The student walked to the book, bent over, picked up the book and handed it to his guru. The guru hit the book out of his hands, back to the ground and said: “I did not ask you to pick the book up, I only asked you to try.”.
(By: Unknown, translation: Hein Pragt)
One day a man had a conversation with God and said: “Dear God, I would like to know what heaven and hell are like?” God led the man to two doors, he opened the first one and let the man look inside. In the room there was a large round table and in the middle of the table was a large pot of stew that smelled delicious. However, the people around the table were thin and sickly, and they seemed to be very hungry. Then te man noticed they had very long spoons tied to there hands, it was possible for everyone to reach out and get the food from the pan, but because the spoons were longer than their arms, they could not bring the spoons to their mouths. The man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. God said, “Now you have seen hell.” and they went to the next room. God opened the door and the room was exactly the same as the first one, there was also a large round table in the middle of the room containing a large pot of stew. The people had exactly the same long spoons attached to their arms, but these people were well nourished and healthy. They had fun and were laughing and talking with each other. The man said, “I do not get it, I do not get it!” God said: “It’s pretty simple, you only need to know one thing. You see, they have learned to feed each other, while the greedy people ony think of themselves.”
The Fairy and the three wishes
(By: Unknown, translation: Hein Pragt)
A fairy tells a woman that gets three wishes and every day one wish will come true. “But remember” the fairy says “your husband will get the same in tenfold!” The woman replies: “No problem, so my husband gets all I get in tenfold, then I wish that I’m madly in love with my husband.” The next day the fairy returns for the next wish, but the curtains are closed and the fairy must wait a long time for the door to open afer she knocks. Finally, the woman appears in the doorway, a sheet hastily folded around her, her hair lose, her yes shining and cheeks blushing. “What’s your second wish?” the fairy says, but the woman ony says “Oh it’s you, fairy, thank you so much, it’s fantastic! I do not have any other wishes” and she wanted to go back inside the house. The fairy protests and says: “What am I supposed to do with the other wishes?” and the woman replies: “give them to other women,” as she quickly went back inside the house.
Nothing is more important
I sat next to the bed of old man, a friend for over twenty years, and held his hand. Hal was dying, we both knew these next few days would be his last. We spent time reminiscing about his long and fruitful career as a church pastor and we talked about old friends. We chatted about his family. And I listened as he offered sage wisdom and advice to a member of a “younger generation.” At a lull in the conversation, Hal seemed to carefully consider what he was about to say next. Then he squeezed my hand, gazed intently into my eyes and whispered, just loud enough for me to hear, “Nothing is more important than relationships.” I knew that this was somehow near the pinnacle of his life’s learnings. As he considered all of his experiences, personal, professional, spiritual and family, this one ultimate observation surfaced above the rest: “Nothing is more important than relationships.”
“Don’t get overly caught up in your career,” he seemed to be saying to me. “Likewise, don’t use people in order to achieve your goals, then throw them away. No project, no program, no task should be pursued at the expense of friends and family. Remember,” I heard him saying, as clearly as if he were speaking the words, “that in the end, only your relationships will truly matter. Tend them well.” Writer Og Mandino puts it this way: “Beginning today,” he said, “treat everyone you meet as if he or she were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness, and understanding you can muster, and do so with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.” At the end of a long life, my friend Hal would have agreed.
They ran trough the rain believing
(By: Bob Perks)
She had been shopping with her Mom in Wal-Mart. She must have been 6 years old, this beautiful brown haired, freckle-faced image of innocence. It was pouring outside. The kind of rain that gushes over the tops of rain gutters, so much in a hurry to hit the earth, it had no time to flow down the spout. Drains in the nearby parking lot were filled to capacity and some were blocked so that huge puddles laced around parked cars. We all stood there under the awning and just inside the door of the Wal-Mart. We waited, some patiently, others irritated… because nature messed up their hurried day. I am always mesmerized by rainfall. I get lost in the sound and sight of the heavens washing away the dirt and dust of the world. Memories of running, splashing so carefree as a child come pouring in as a welcome reprieve from the worries of my day. Oh to be young again………..
Her voice was so sweet as it broke the hypnotic trance we were all caught in. “Mom, let’s run through the rain,” she said. “What?” Mom asked. “Let’s run through the rain!” she repeated. “No, honey. We’ll wait until it slows down a bit.” Mom replied. This young child waited about another minute and repeated “Mom, Let’s run through the rain.” “We’ll get soaked if we do,” Mom said. “No, we won’t, Mom, remember what you said this morning,” the young girl said as she tugged at her mom’s arm. “This morning, when did I say we could run through the rain and not get wet?”. “Don’t you remember? When you were talking to Daddy about his cancer, you said, “If God can get us through this, He can get us through anything!”
The entire crowd stopped dead silent. I swear you couldn’t hear anything but the rain. We all stood silently. No one came or left in the next few minutes. Her Mom paused and thought for a moment about what she would say. Now some would laugh it off and scold her for being silly. Some might even ignore what was said. But this was a moment of affirmation in a young child’s life. A time when innocent trust can be nurtured so that it will bloom into faith. “Honey, you are absolutely right, let’s run through the rain. If God let’s us get wet, well maybe we just needed washing.” Then off they ran.
We all stood watching, smiling and laughing as they darted past the cars and puddles. They held their shopping bags over their heads just in case, they got soaked. They were followed by a few who screamed and laughed like children all the way to their cars. I want to believe that some where down the road in life, this Mom will find herself reflecting back on moments they spent together, captured like pictures in the scrapbook of her cherished memories. Maybe when she watches proudly as her daughter graduates or as her Daddy walks her down the aisle on her wedding day. She will laugh again. Her heart will beat a little faster. Her smile will tell the world they love each other. But only they… will share that precious moment, when they ran through the rain believing that God would get them through. Yes, I ran. I got wet. I too needed washing. Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they may even take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories. So, don’t forget to make time and take the opportunities to make memories every day!
Giving up too soon
A man meets a guru in the road and the man asks the guru, “Which way is success?” The berobed, bearded sage speaks not, but points to a place off in the distance. The man, thrilled by the prospect of quick and easy success, rushes off in the appropriate direction. Suddenly, there comes a loud “SPLAT.” Eventually, the man limps back, tattered and stunned, assuming he must have misinterpreted the message. He repeats his question to the guru, who again points silently in the same direction. The man obediently walks off once more. This time the splat is deafening, and when the man crawls back, he is bloody, broken, tattered, and irate. “I asked you which way is success,” he screams at the guru. “I followed the direction you indicated. And all I got was splatted! No more of this pointing! Talk!”. Only then does the guru speak, and what he says is this: “Success IS that way. Just a little PAST splat.”
What would you do?
God has a way of allowing us to be in the right place at the right time. I was walking down a dimly lit street late one evening when I heard muffled screams coming from behind a clump of bushes. Alarmed, I slowed down to listen, and panicked when I realized that what I was hearing were the unmistakable sounds of a struggle: heavy grunting, frantic scuffling, and tearing of fabric. Only yards from where I stood, a woman was being attacked. Should I get involved? I was frightened for my own safety, and cursed myself for having suddenly decided to take a new route home that night. What if I became another statistic? Shouldn’t I just run to the nearest phone and call the police? Although it seemed an eternity, the deliberations in my head had taken only seconds, but already the girl’s cries were growing weaker. I knew I had to act fast. How could I walk away from this? No, I finally resolved, I could not turn my back on the fate of this unknown woman, even if it meant risking my own life.
I am not a brave man, nor am I athletic. I don’t know where I found the moral courage and physical strength, but once I had finally resolved to help the girl, I became strangely transformed. I ran behind the bushes and pulled the assailant off the woman. Grappling, we fell to the ground, where we wrestled for a few minutes until the attacker jumped up and escaped. Panting hard, I scrambled upright and approached the girl, who was crouched behind a tree, sobbing. In the darkness, I could barely see her outline, but I could certainly sense her trembling shock. Not wanting to frighten her further, I at first spoke to her from a distance. “It’s OK,” I said soothingly. “The man ran away. You’re safe now.” There was a long pause and then I heard the words, uttered in wonder, in amazement. “Dad, is that you?” And then, from behind the tree, stepped my youngest daughter, Katherine.
The most important body part
My mother used to ask me what is the most important part of the body? Through the years I would take a guess at what I thought was the correct answer. When I was younger, I thought sound was very important to us as humans, so I said, “My ears, Mommy.”. She said, “No. Many people are deaf. But you keep thinking about it and I will ask you again soon.” Several years passed before she asked me again. Since making my first attempt, I had contemplated the correct answer. So this time I told her, “Mommy, sight is very important to everybody, so it must be our eyes.” She looked at me and told me, “You are learning fast, but the answer is not correct because there are many people who are blind.” Stumped again, I continued my quest for knowledge and over the years, Mother asked me a couple more times and always her answer was, “No. But you are getting smarter every year, my child.” Then last year, my grandpa died. Everybody was hurt. Everybody was crying. Even my father cried. I remember that especially because it was only the second time I saw him cry. My Mom looked at me when it was our turn to say our final good-bye to Grandpa.
She asked me, “Do you know the most important body part yet, my dear?” I was shocked when she asked me this now. I always thought this was a game between her and me. She saw the confusion on my face and told me, “This question is very important. It shows that you have really lived in your life. For every body part you gave me in the past, I have told you were wrong and I have given you an example why. But today is the day you need to learn this important lesson.” She looked down at me as only a mother can. I saw her eyes well up with tears. She said, “My dear, the most important body part is your shoulder.” I asked, “Is it because it holds up my head?” She replied, “No, it is because it can hold the head of a friend or a loved one when they cry. Everybody needs a shoulder to cry on sometime in life. I only hope that you have enough love and friends that you will always have a shoulder to cry on when you need it.” Then and there I knew the most important body part is not a selfish one. It is sympathetic to the pain of others.
Who packed your parachute?
Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. We may fail to say hello, please, thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason. Charles Plumb, a US Naval Academy graduate, was a jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent 6 years in a communist prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience. One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, “You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!” “How in the world did you know that?” asked Plumb. “I packed your parachute,” the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man grabbed his hand and said, “I guess it worked!” Plumb assured him, “It sure did. If your chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Plumb couldn’t sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb kept wondering what the man might have looked like in a Navy uniform. He wondered how many times he might have seen him and not even said good morning, how are you or anything, because you see, he was a fighter pilot and the man was just a sailor. Plumb thought of the many hours that sailor had spent in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he did not know. Now Plumb asks his audience, “Who is packing your parachute?” Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. Plumb also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down. As you go through your week, month, and even New Year, recognize the people who have packed your parachute and enabled you to get where you are today!
A Story to Live By
(By Ann Wells, Los Angeles Times)
My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister’s bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package. ‘This,’ he said, ‘is not a slip. This is lingerie.’ He discarded the tissue and handed the slip. It was exquisite; silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The price tag with an astronomical figure on itwas still attached. ‘Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least 8 or 9 years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion.’
He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes we weretaking to the mortician. He hands lingered on the silk material for a moment,then he slammed the drawer shut and turned to me ‘Don’t ever save anything for aspecial occasion. Every day you’re alive is a special occasion.’ I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I helped him and my niece attend to all the sad chores that follow an unexpected death. I thought about them on the plane returning to California from the Midwest where my sister’s family lives. I though about all the things that she hadn’t seen or heard or done. I though about the things that she had done without realizing that they were special. I’m still thinking about his words, and they’ve changed my life. I’m reading more and dusting less. I’m sitting on the deck and admiring the view withoutfussing about the weeds in the garden. I’m spending more time with my family and friends and less time in committee meetings. Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experience to savor, not endure. I’m trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them. I’m not “saving” anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event – such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia blossom. I wear my good blazer to the market if I like it. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries without wincing. I’m not saving my good perfume for special parties; clerks in hardware stores and tellers in banks have noses that function as well as my party-going friends.”Someday” and “one of these days” are losing their grip on my vocabulary.
If it’s worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it
now. I’m not sure what my sister would’ve done had she known that she wouldn’t be
here for the tomorrow we all take for granted. I think she would have
called family members and a few close friends. She might have called a few former
friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think
she would have gone out for a Chinese dinner, her favorite food. I’m
guessing I’ll never know. It’s those little things left undone that would make me
angry if I knew that my hours were limited. Angry because I put off seeing good
friends whom I was going to get in touch with – someday. Angry because I
hadn’t written certain letters that I intended to write – one of these
days. Angry and sorry that I didn’t tell my husband and daughter often
enoughhow much I truly love them. I’m trying very hard not to put off, hold back,
or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives. And every morning when
I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special. Every day, every minute, every
breath truly is a gift from God.
Throw the Bums Out!
By Loa Stewart Bridgeport, California, USA
It’s a small gas station that has snacks, things to drink, cigarettes, and candy. The young man behind the counter wears boots, and a baggy t-shirt under his vest. He’s quick with a joke, knows his customers by name and what they normally want to buy. He treats children and adults with equal respect, but once decked a guy for slugging his wife right there in the store. He’s the kind of guy who will take a day off without pay in order to appear as a witness to a traffic accident. He reads science fiction or mysteries behind the counter when business is slow. And he’s my son.
One day, less than a week after the place had been broken into overnight, the store was suddenly invaded by three people grabbing food off the shelves as fast as they could, obviously not intending to pay for it. He hit the “panic button” and then went over the counter and locked the front door. It was obvious they were homeless, and equally obvious that they weren’t going anywhere with their ill-gotten gains. They dropped the loot and simply huddled together, knowing the police were on the way. Imagine what they must have felt like when, instead of being cussed out or told they were headed for jail, they were told they didn’t have to steal if they were that hungry. “We have food in the back, expired but still safe to eat, that we plan on giving to a homeless shelter. If you need food, you can have some.”
They were told to pick up what they had dropped and put it back, then asked to straighten out the mess they’d made of the store. They were doing just that when the police arrived. The officers were told the situation was under control and the police were no longer necessary. This wasn’t what they had expected. They were being treated as human beings who had screwed up but could right the wrong they’d done. Shocked, because they knew that the homeless were never welcome to use “public restrooms” in private businesses, they quickly followed orders to take turns and use the restroom to clean up.
Soon three cleaner people, standing just a bit taller than before when they came in, walked out with all the food their arms could hold. They were reminded that, if they needed to come back again, they were to ask and not just grab. And then the young man went back to reading until the next customer came in. He would be the last person in the world to claim he was a hero. But that day, when it would have been so much easier just to hand three “bums” over to the cops and be done with it, he gave three people something they were in desperate need of, a small amount of selfrespect and a little bit of hope.
Wait For The Brick
A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was
watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed,
no children appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag’s side door! He slammed on the brakes and drove the Jag back to
the spot where the brick had been thrown. The angry driver then jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid and pushed him
up against a parked car, shouting, “What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing? That’s a new
car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?” The young boy was apologetic. “Please mister…
please, I’m sorry… I didn’t know what else to do,” he pleaded. “I threw the brick because no one else would stop…” With tears
dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car. “It’s my brother,” he said.
“He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can’t lift him up.”
Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, “Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He’s hurt and he’s too heavy for me.” Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. He hurriedly lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out his fancy handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh scrapes and cuts. A quick look told him everything was going to be okay. “Thank you and may God bless you,” the grateful child told the stranger. Too shook up for words, the man simply watched the little boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home. It was a long, slow walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door. He kept the dent there to remind him of this message: Don’t go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention! God whispers in our souls and speaks to our hearts. Sometimes when we don’t have time to listen, He has to throw a brick at us. It’s our choice, listen to the whisper… or wait for the brick!
Sand and Stone
A story tells that two friends were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face. The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand: “TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE.” They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one, who had been slapped, got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him. After the friend recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone: “TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE.”
The friend who had slapped and saved his best friend asked him, “After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?” The other friend replied: “When someone hurts us, we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it.” Learn to write your hurts in the sand, nd to carve your benifits in stone!
Mahatma Gandhi went from city to city, village to village collecting funds for the Charkha Sangh. During one of his tours he addressed a meeting in Orissa. After his speech a poor old woman got up. She was bent with age, her hair was grey and her clothes were in tatters. The volunteers tried to stop her, but she fought her way to the place where Gandhiji was sitting. “I must see him,” she insisted and going up to Gandhiji touched his feet. Then from the folds of her sari she brought out a copper coin and placed it at his feet. Gandhiji picked up the copper coin and put it away carefully. The Charkha Sangh funds were under the charge of Jamnalal Bajaj. He asked Gandhiji for the coin but Gandhiji refused. “I keep cheques worth thousands of rupees for the Charkha Sangh,” Jamnalal Bajaj said laughingly “yet you won’t trust me with a copper coin.” “This copper coin is worth much more than those thousands,” Gandhiji said. “If a man has several lakhs and he gives away a thousand or two, it doesn’t mean much. But this coin was perhaps all that the poor woman possessed. She gave me all she had. That was very generous of her. What a great sacrifice she made. That is why I value this copper coin more than a crore of rupees.”
The Making Of A Mother
By the time the Lord made mothers, He was into the sixth day working overtime. An Angel appeared and said “Why are you spending so much time on this one?” And the Lord answered and said, “Have you read the spec sheet on her? She has to be completely washable, but not elastic; have 200 movable parts, all replaceable; run on black coffee and leftovers; have a lap that can hold three children at one time and that disappears when she stands up; have a kiss that can cure anything from a scraped knee to a broken heart; and have six pairs of hands.” The Angel was astounded at the requirements for this one. “Six pairs of hands! No way!” said the Angel. The Lord replied, “Oh, it’s not the hands that are the problem. It’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers must have!” “And that’s on the standard model?” the Angel asked.
The Lord nodded in agreement, “Yep, one pair of eyes are to see through the closed door as she asks her children what they are doing even though she already knows. Another pair in the back of her head are to see what she needs to know even though no one thinks she can. And the third pair are here in the front of her head. They are for looking at an errant child and saying that she understands and loves him or her without even saying a single word.” The Angel tried to stop the Lord “This is too much work for one day. Wait until tomorrow to finish.” “But I can’t!” The Lord protested, “I am so close to finishing this creation that is so close to my own heart. She already heals herself when she is sick AND can feed a family of six on a pound of hamburger and can get a nine year old to stand in the shower.” The Angel moved closer and touched the woman, “But you have made her so soft, Lord.” “She is soft,” the Lord agreed, “but I have also made her tough. You have no idea what she can endure or accomplish.”
“Will she be able to think?” asked the Angel. The Lord replied, “Not only will she be able to think, she will be able to reason, and negotiate.” The Angel then noticed something and reached out and touched the woman’s cheek. “Oops, it looks like You have a leak with this model. I told You that You were trying to put too much into this one.” That’s not a leak.” the Lord objected. “That’s a tear!” “What’s the tear for?” the Angel asked. The Lord said, “The tear is her way of expressing her joy, her sorrow, her disappointment, her pain, her loneliness, her grief, and her pride.” The Angel was impressed. “You are a genius, Lord. You thought of everything for this one. You even created the tear!” The Lord looked at the Angel and smiled and said, “I’m afraid you are wrong again. I created the woman, but she created the tear!”
The obstacle on your path
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 big stone out of the way. Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. On 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. As 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 others never understand. Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve one’s condition.
The car that did not like vanilla ice cream.
For the engineers among us who understand that the obvious is not always the solution, and that the facts, no matter how implausible, are still the facts … A complaint was received by the Pontiac Division of General Motors: “This is the second time I have written you, and I don’t blame you for not answering me, because I kind of sounded crazy, but it is a fact that we have a tradition in our family of ice cream for dessert after dinner each night. But the kind of ice cream varies so, every night, after we’ve eaten, the whole family votes on which kind of ice cream we should have and I drive down to the store to get it. It’s also a fact that I recently purchased a new Pontiac and since then my trips to the store have created a problem.
You see, every time I buy vanilla ice cream, when I start back from the store my car won’t start. If I get any other kind of ice cream, the car starts just fine. I want you to know I’m serious about this question, no matter how silly it sounds: ‘What is there about a Pontiac that makes it not start when I get vanilla ice cream, and easy to start whenever I get any other kind?'”
The Pontiac President was understandably skeptical about the letter, but sent an engineer to check it out anyway. The latter was surprised to be greeted by a successful, obviously well-educated man in a fine neighborhood. He had arranged to meet the man just after dinner time, so the two hopped into the car and drove to the ice cream store. It was vanilla ice cream that night and, sure enough, after they came back to the car, it wouldn’t start. The engineer returned for three more nights. The first night, the man got chocolate. The car started. The second night, he got strawberry. The car started. The third night he ordered vanilla. The car failed to start.
Now the engineer, being a logical man, refused to believe that this man’s car was allergic to vanilla ice cream. He arranged, therefore, to continue his visits for as long as it took to solve the problem. And toward this end he began to take notes: he jotted down all sorts of data, time of day, type of gas used, time to drive back and forth, etc. In a short time, he had a clue: the man took less time to buy vanilla than any other flavor. Why?
The answer was in the layout of the store. Vanilla, being the most popular flavor, was in a separate case at the front of the store for quick pickup. All the other flavors were kept in the back of the store at a different counter where it took considerably longer to find the flavor and get checked out. Now the question for the engineer was why the car wouldn’t start when it took less time. Once time became the problem — not the vanilla ice cream — the engineer quickly came up with the answer: vapor lock. It was happening every night, but the extra time taken to get the other flavors allowed the engine to cool down sufficiently to start. When the man got vanilla, the engine was still too hot for the vapor lock to dissipate.
Moral of the story: even insane-looking problems are sometimes real.
What it really means to be a friend
One day a boy of about 16 years of age named Kyle was walking home from school. He was carrying many books and other items and was seemingly have a lot of trouble making it. Eventually, he tripped, and all the books and items fell from his arms. At that moment a young man named Will saw him from the other side of the road and walked over to see if there was anything he could do. He helped the boy pick up his things and carry them home. In the next three months, him and the boy became very close. And then on the last day of school, Will found a note in his locker. It read: Will, You don’t know this, but on that day three months ago, I had just cleaned out my locker. I was going to commit suicide. I thought no one cared about me. However, when you came over, I realized that someone did. So you see Will, when you picked up my books, you really picked up my life. Thank You, Kyle
A professor gave a balloon to every student, who had to inflate it, write their name on it and throw it in the hallway. The professor then mixed all the balloons. The students were then given 5 minutes to find their own balloon. Despite a hectic search, no one found their balloon. At that point, the professor told the students to take the first balloon that they found and hand it to the person whose name was written on it. Within 5 minutes, everyone had their own balloon. The professor said to the students: “These balloons are like happiness. We will never find it if everyone is looking for their own. But if we care about other people’s happiness, we’ll find ours too.”
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