Slotting People

For better, For worse

slot peep

It is odd how many times we meet people and we easily label them by their physical appearance, speech pattern and their demeanour. Sometimes, we don’t even wait for them to speak before we fit them into the right slot and leave them there without a backward glance.

Just a side glance and we decide who is worth our time and who isn’t.

I have been guilty of this… severally. On occasions, I’ve rued my hasty judgements.

Malcolm Forbes said: “You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who can do nothing for them or to them.”

While we are chewing on that, let us read this little story I culled from…


A lady in a faded gingham dress and her husband, dressed in a homespun threadbare suit, stepped off the train in Boston, and walked timidly without an appointment into the President of Harvard’s outer office.

The secretary could tell in a moment that such backwoods , country hicks had no business at Harvard and probably didn’t deserve to be in Cambridge. She frowned.

“We want to see the President.” The man said softly.

“He’ll be busy all day.” The secretary snapped.

“We’ll wait.”The lady replied.

For hours, the secretary ignored them, hoping that the couple would finally become discouraged and go.

They didn’t. The secretary grew frustrated and finally decided to disturb the President, even though it was a chore she always regretted to do.

“Maybe if they see you for just a few minutes, they’ll leave.” She told him.

And he sighed in exasperation and agreed. Someone of his importance obviously didn’t have the time to spend with them, but he detested gingham dresses and homespun suits cluttering his outer office. The President, stern-faced with dignity, strutted towards the couple.

The lady told him. “We had a son that attended Harvard for one year. He loved Harvard. He was happy here. But about a year ago, he was accidentally killed. And my husband and I would like to erect a memorial to him, somewhere on the campus.”

The President wasn’t touched, he was shocked. “Madam,” he said gruffly. “We can’t put up a statue for every person who attended Harvard and died. If we did, this place would look like a cemetery.”

“Oh no,” the woman explained quickly, “we don’t want to erect a statue. We thought we would give a building to Harvard.”

The President rolled his eyes. He glanced at the gingham dress and homespun suit, then exclaimed, “A building! Do you have any earthly idea how much a building costs? We have over seven and a half million dollars in the physical plant at Harvard.”

For a moment the lady was silent. The President was pleased. He could get rid of them now. Then the lady turned to her husband and said quietly. “Is that all its costs to start a University? Why don’t we just start our own?”

Her husband nodded. The President’s face wilted in confusion and bewilderment. And Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford walked away, travelling to Palo Alto, California where they established the University that bears their name, a memorial to a son that Harvard no longer cared about.


**Sometimes when we fit people into slots, they really belong to that slot. And sometimes, we are so wrong. I’m thinking I should take a moment to get to know someone before I slot them in next time *winks**


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