$4 if you argue…


My wife’s Grandpa Tucker has been gone for over 30 years now. But, I remember sitting on lawn chairs in their country yard trying to catch a breeze listening to his stories. He had a very diverse “career.” Over the years, he had worked in factories, ran a petrol (gasoline) station, did odd jobs, and farmed. In their first 25 years of marriage, they moved 26 times. Then, they never moved again for the next 30. Every time we visited, he seemed to tell the same stories. That tends to happen as you age… you forget what you’ve already shared. Yet, the stories were always fun and we enjoyed hearing them. We often wish that somehow we had taped them to watch them again with our own children and grandchildren. Anyway, this is one of those stories that he said was true:

Back in their early years of marriage (probably in the 1920’s), the Tuckers were working in northern Illinois. They had decided to move back home to southern Illinois and packed up the truck and headed south on the main highway. In those days, not all highways were paved. In fact, they were little more than a pathway across the prairie. On the way south, they encountered a tremendous thunderstorm. The rain was torrential. Somewhere along the way, there was a low spot in the roadway. The rain had turned that into a mud pit. The mud was so bad that the cars and trucks of the day could not get through. But, an industrious farmer that lived nearby had brought his team of horses to the pit to pull vehicles through to the other side. The Tuckers were waiting their turn behind another car and witnessed that car’s interaction with the farmer. The farmer said to the driver, “I’ll pull you through, but it will cost you $4.” The man said, “You’re kidding! You’re charging $4 to pull me through? That’s robbery! You’d think that out of kindness, you’d pull me through.” This went on for a few minutes before the man handed over $4 and the farmer and team pulled them through.

When Grandpa Tucker came up to the pit, he had already retrieved his $4. He reached out to hand it to the farmer. The farmer said, “No, Sir, for you it is $3.” Grandpa Tucker said, “Only $3? I thought you charged that last car $4.” The farmer replied, “Yes, I did. My price is $4 if you argue, but only $3 if you don’t. So, you get the no-argument discount.” He pulled them through and they continue their journey south.

So, what does this story teach us? I think there are a few good points for us in either our business or personal lives:

1. Not every day is sunny. Sometimes, we just have to trudge through the mud and make the best of what comes your way. Diligence and persistence are words that come to mind.

2. When it’s your team of horses, you set the price. We can’t always have it our way. Often, we are at a disadvantage in a situation and our best approach might be to just deal with it and make the best of the situation.

3. Courtesy and kindness frequently pay dividends. When you treat someone with kindness, their natural tendency, especially when they work in a stressful position, is to give you the benefit of the doubt. I’ve heard that treating airline employees with kindness can often make rebooking cancelled flights easier, for example. As we have said often on The Porch, “There is never a time or situation when kindness is not an appropriate behavior.”

Finally, if there are wonderful family stories in your family, take the time to retell them or, better yet, write them down. You may be the only way these are retained for future generations.

Thanks and have a tremendous day!

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