SOMETHING I see so often in America and Europe as I travel through a city in the mornings is the owner of a business establishment opening his shop himself, cleaning the porch and dusting his furniture.
There is a sense of pride as he carefully wipes the door handles, makes the brass shine, cleans the glass and polishes the doors. Here in our country, we have a peon to open the shop, another sweeper to clean the front and other employees to do all the other work we don’t want to do.
The other day a carpenter was busy at my home, making new windows for a bedroom. He worked along with his assistant whose job it was to bring the wood from the terrace, hold the nails patiently while his master hammered them, bring the tea for their frequent tea breaks and other jobs.
The second day he turned up alone, “My helper is sick,” he said. “I guess you’ll have to do the work alone,” I said. “No,” said the carpenter, “I’m going home.” “You can’t,” I said, “there’s so much to do.” “No helper!” “But you really don’t need one,” I said.
“Who will carry the wood from the terrace? Who will hold my nails? Do you expect me to get my tea myself?” “But you’ll lose a day’s wages,” I said looking at him helplessly as he packed his tools. “That’s okay,” he said, “goodbye!” Many years ago, a rider came across some soldiers who were trying to move a heavy log without success. Their corporal was standing by as the men struggled. The horse rider asked the corporal why he wasn’t helping.
“I am the corporal; I give orders,” barked the man. “In that case I’ll help them,” said the rider. He dismounted from his horse, went up, stood by the soldiers and as they were lifting the log, he pushed with them.
With his help the heavy log was moved. The rider quietly mounted his horse, then went to the corporal and said, “The next time your men need help, call me.” “That we will,” said the proud corporal with a sneer, “who are you?” “Your Commander-in Chief!” said the man as he rode off. After he left, the corporal and his men found out it was General George Washington!
Do we need a Washington to change our attitude towards getting things done? I have seen filth and dirt lying in front of somebody’s front door and everybody entering having to sidestep the mess, holding their noses and waiting for the man who empties the rubbish to do the needful. Till then the filth lies untouched.
How long till we take the broom and clean place ourselves? Are we all like that proud corporal or like General Washington have no qualms of doing some mundane work? How long till we realize it is our job?