The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It


 I admit to having an impish side. Normally I keep it well disciplined and under control – but from time to time the little demon needs to surface before I put it back in its box.

 When I was running my business, occasionally an employee would ask if I could spare a few minutes. They wanted to talk with me. After many years of these conversations I realized that there was only one of two things they wanted to discuss.

 The first was that they would like to get an advance because of some personal situation which had arisen. The second was that they were going to ask for a day or two off and hadn’t accrued sufficient vacation time to be able to take it without being docked.

 As strange as it may seem, I actually looked forward to these conversations.

 Newer employees who had not gotten to know my caring nature (I thought of us as a family and a team) would create some of the most inventive stories in order to convince me that I should grant their request. I always found these entertaining although I tried to maintain a serious poker face as I listened to them spin their yarns.

 One of my favorites was produced by a young woman who needed a thousand dollar advance because, “her twelve year old cat (with kidney problems) had climbed up her fireplace flue and she had to hire a chimney sweep to descend into the chimney to rescue the poor creature.” She had apparently forgotten our conversation of a few months earlier in which she had explained that although she loved animals she was violently allergic to cats and would break out in hives in their presence.

 At the conclusion of their presentation I would lean back in my chair and without giving any indication of whether or not I was moved to grant their request simply make the comment, “I already knew the reason that you asked for this meeting.”

 A look of surprise would overcome the hopeful employee who had spent hours concocting the story they were going to spring on me.

 I would then say, “I don’t know if you are aware of this but I do have psychic abilities. Pick a number from one to ten,” I would add.

 The employee would select a number. I would then reach into a desk drawer or the bottom of my filled letter tray and pull out a folded slip of paper on which was written the number that they had chosen.

 Shock had now become awe – and it was accompanied by the sinking feeling that I probably didn’t believe a word of the story they had made up. After all, they were dealing with a psychic who no doubt could see through their fabrication.

 At the conclusion of the meeting I would say, “I’ll certainly consider your request. Give me a couple of hours to think about it and I’ll let you know.”

 The employee would leave, believing there was no way that they were going to get the advance. And I let them stew for awhile.

 The fact was that I granted ninety-five percent of these pleas for assistance.

 What my employees didn’t know and never figured out was that prior to our meeting I had placed ten slips of paper in various spots in my office with the numbers one through ten written on them. When they told me the number they had selected, I merely had to remember where I had put that particular slip.

 I never got a second request from the same employee.

 Abraham Lincoln said, “No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.”

 That statement is particularly true when you’re dealing with a person who is psychic.



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