A very wealthy man who suffered from a hopeless illness began miraculously to improve. When he was nearly well, he summoned his steward and ordered him to take ten thousand dollars to the physician, with his deepest thanks. The steward protested, “Why now, sir? Why not wait until you have made a full recovery?”
“No, I want it done right now. When I was in despair of my life, I thought with all my heart that if only he cured me, I would gladly give him all I owned. Then, once the crisis was over, I changed my mind. ‘Nobody does a foolish thing like that,’ I told myself. First I decided half would be plenty, then a third. My attachment to my possessions grew and grew. It’s a physician’s job to heal the sick, I thought; nothing extraordinary about that. People die all the time anyway, despite receiving the best of care, so if I do get well who could say it was his doing? It began to seem that making some outsize gift to him would only make me look ridiculous. If I wait till I’m fully recovered, I’ll end up refusing to pay him a red cent. I’m likely to let my bill go unpaid until he insists, just so I can squeeze out all the interest possible. I don’t want to turn into such an ingrate. Even though I’m still bedridden, take him the money now!”
When we ask someone for a job or another favor, we are generous with smiles and flattery. We are positive at the time that we’ll never forget how much we owe him or her, but as time goes by, gratitude fades to indifference. People who offer sincere thanks to benefactors will succeed; those who forget others’ kindness will lose their reputation.
about the book | about the author | content | reviews