The Good American
A speaker at a meeting I attended recently reminded me of a Winston Churchill quote that unfortunately hit pretty close to home for me. The quote dated to when the U.S. finally came to Britain’s support during the early days of World War II. Churchill said, “We can always count on the United States to do the right thing, but only after they have exhausted all other options.” My opportunity to ‘do the right thing’ occurred on a recent flight, and involved the woman in the seat next to me and a long ‘tail’ of toilet paper that was present when she came back from the rest room. What does one do?
The quick back-story is that she was wearing a cream-colored cardigan sweater and I didn’t immediately identify what was amiss. Once I did, I panicked. How do you tell this to your seatmate who is a total stranger, but who will be sitting right next to you for yet another couple of hours? If I tell her she will be humiliated, and I will feel uncomfortable and a bit embarrassed myself. Plus, others around us will surely notice when she addressed the situation. I mulled solutions and outcomes, and didn’t like any of them. Doing nothing was way high on my list, and seemingly, no one would know I did nothing. I took that approach for over an hour, but as landing and exiting the plane got closer, I became more anxious and less comfortable with my current course of action. I pictured her walking through the airport with a full concourse of folks looking and snickering, then meeting friends or family or even business associates at baggage claim who would then be able to keep this little incident alive for this woman for the rest of her life. I liked my do nothing approach less and less.
Finally, I stood up and went to the back of the plane to solicit the help of a flight attendant. She knew where I was seated and I told her my dilemma. I suggested she tell the woman once we landed so any embarrassment would be short-lived. She agreed. I went back to my seat, and then my seatmate had to stow something in her carryon and stood up to do so. I was worried about having to immediately address this, but apparently, the situation corrected itself while she was sitting. When she came back to her seat, she saw the offending item, balled it up and problem solved. Except of course for the forthcoming flight attendant intervention. I spent the next half hour trying to figure out how to cancel the agreed upon plan. As luck would have it, the flight attendant knew what to look for, and when nothing was present, never said a word.
So post flight I ‘socialized’ my dilemma a bit, in all reality because I wanted a degree of validation for my course of action. I started by telling the story to my wife. She interrupted twice with a somewhat urgently posed, “You told her, right?” question. This didn’t make me feel exactly good about myself. I shared it with a coworker. She interrupted right away with a rather direct, “You tell her.” This is when the Churchill quote really hit home. Indeed, I had done the right thing, but only after exhausting plenty of other options.
Bits & Pieces
By Jeff Torrison
- State legislators elected US Senators until 1913 when the ratification of the 17th Amendment mandated these elections to be subject to popular vote.
- Each US penny cost an average of 1.6 cents to manufacture in 2017 according to an article in the March 19, 2018, issue of The Wall Street Journal.
- “Annie Hall” received the Academy Award for best picture in 1978. One of the movies it was competing against for the award was “Star Wars,” which begat eight sequels (with a ninth on the way).
- The Masters Golf Tournament began in 1934 as the “Augusta National Invitational” before switching to its current name in 1939. Jack Nicklaus holds the record for Masters wins at six.
- Alaska has the fewest farms in the US with 760, followed by Rhode lsland and Delaware. Hawaii is ranked 44th in the number of farms with about 7,000.
- About 40% of Division I men’s basketball players transfer to another school by the end of their sophomore year per the NCAA. About half of them go to another Division I program and the rest move on to a lower NCAA division.
- JPMorgan has about $1.2 trillion in deposits; its earnings on cash management and treasury services are about 80% of what it makes on its commercial loan portfolio according to an April 4, 2018, article in The Wall Street Journal.
- In 1910 William Howard Taft became the first US President to throw out the ceremonial first pitch on the opening day of the Major League Baseball season. In 1950 President Harry Truman, who was ambidextrous, threw one pitch right-handed and one left-handed on opening day.
- Every state in the country reported having snow on April 7, 1857 (there were then 31 states) according to meteorologist Paul Douglas.