A lady in a pale gray dress and her husband, in a homemade suit, timidly entered the outer office of the President of Harvard University without an appointment.
The secretary suddenly realized that country folks like these, country folks, have no job at Harvard and probably don’t even deserve to be at Harvard.
“We want to see the President,” the man said softly.
“He’ll be busy all day,” snapped the secretary.
“We’ll wait,” replied the lady.
The secretary ignored them for hours, hoping that the couple would eventually get discouraged and walk away.
They didn’t, and the secretary was frustrated and eventually decided to bother the president.
“Maybe if you see them for a few minutes, they’ll go,” she told him. The President walked towards the couple with a stern face and dignity.
The lady told him, “We had a son who studied for a year at Harvard. He loved Harvard. He was happy here. However, he was accidentally killed about a year ago. My husband and I want to erect a monument for him somewhere on campus.”
The President was not touched… Shocked. “Ma’am,” he said gruffly, “we can’t erect a statue for every person who goes to Harvard and dies. If we did, this place would be like a cemetery.”
“Oh no,” the lady explained quickly, “we don’t want to erect statues. We thought we wanted to give Harvard a building.”
The President rolled his eyes. He glanced at the gingham dress and the plain suit, and then said, “A building! Do you have any idea how much a building costs?
We have more than seven and a half million dollars in physical buildings at Harvard.”
The lady was silent for a moment. The president was satisfied. Maybe he could get rid of them now.
The lady turned to her husband and said quietly, “Is this how much it costs to open a university? Why don’t we start on our own?
Her husband nodded. The president’s face paled in astonishment and surprise.
Mr and Mrs Leland Stanford got up and went to Palo Alto, California, where they founded the University that bears their name:
Stanford University is a memorial to a son Harvard no longer cares about.
We often judge people by their appearance, which can be misleading. And in this impression, we tend to mistreat people, thinking that they can do nothing for us.
Thus, we tend to lose potential good friends, relatives, employees or customers.