Things I Learned from R. B. (April 26th, 2020)


Jonathots Daily Blog

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Episode 12

Three phone calls.

This is the extent of the contact I had with R. B. over the next two years. On the first two occasions, he tracked me down through a young man who was assisting us with scheduling and knew where we were at all times.

The first call was a chatty conversation about his latest meet-up with Kristall—how it was bittersweet because she was moving to New York City. He was already making plans to follow her, believing they were entwined in a harmony of purposes.

The second dial-up was to inform me that he had lost his job in Dallas and was moving to Tacoma, Washington. He explained all the maladies of his Texas situation—how he had needed to move on and was grateful for the urging provided by the firing.

But the third phone call came from me.

I tracked him down in Tacoma—really just by using the old-fashioned telephone book. My reason was practical.

I had received notice through the mail that a woman in Missouri was interested in purchasing one hundred copies of my first book, “The Gospel According to Common Sense.” She explained how much she had enjoyed it, and wanted to pass it along to strangers, who might find it easier to understand than Brothers Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.

I was so moved.

My soul was so hungry for some confirmation that what I was doing was worthwhile and who I was, meaningful.

Yet my book was out of print. I felt compelled to try to get it printed again and get those one hundred copies into this lady’s hands.

Maybe it was mission, or maybe vanity. I still don’t know.

I priced the printing and found out that all I needed was a hundred and twenty-five dollars. I had fifty.

I know it may sound ridiculous, but I had absolutely no way to lay my hands on that other seventy-five dollars except…

I called R. B. I told him I needed a loan. I explained it would be a brief period of time—because as soon as the woman sent me back the check for the books, I would be able to reimburse him.

My plea for the money was about two minutes long but the conversation lasted two hours.

R. B. stated, in a hundred different ways, how he was taught never to loan money. He asked me a half dozen times why I didn’t already have the money. He questioned whether my story was truthful. He made me grovel.

At the end of the two hours, having given me no official answer, he said he would think about it and call me next week.

As I hung up the phone, I realized he hadn’t asked for my telephone number—nor did it seem he wanted one.

I waited and I waited.

Finally, after two weeks, I contacted him again. He apologized and said he could give me the money at the end of the month—which was three weeks away. I reiterated that this was a time-sensitive affair, since the order was now four weeks old. He didn’t understand why a few more days would make a difference.

While I was waiting for R. B. to provide the final funds to order the books, a letter arrived from the lady canceling her request and scolding me for not having the integrity to respond in time.

It hurt so badly.

Not only did I fail to give my writings an opportunity to be used, but I was thrust into the role of the incompetent child.

I did place a brief fifth call. (I forgot about those last two.) It was to inform R. B. that he would no longer need to provide the funds.

He laughed and said, “Well, it’s probably for the best.”

It wasn’t—for the best, that is.

As I look back on my journey with this fellow, I have to be honest and admit that this incident might have colored many of my views and inhibited some of my compassion. I would hope not, but I am a bit suspicious of myself.

 

1 Thing You Can Do to Make Your Life Much More Simple

 

Listen So You Don’t Have to be Told Again

No one likes to be preached at.

We all hate “lecture mode.”

And certainly, no human being is going to tolerate receiving a “yelling.”

Since this is true, we must be careful to put ourselves in a position where we don’t have to hear preaching, can avoid the lecture and can escape being scolded.

I was standing in line at a customer service department—a long one.

There were at least fifteen people in front of me. As I got closer, I noticed that the interactions between the customers and the representative behind the desk were very tempestuous. Everyone was arriving pissed, and the young gentleman who had the job of hearing the complaints was losing his cool and becoming obnoxious. When there were four people in front of me, I started listening carefully to the exchanges. I wanted to know what was making this young man so cantankerous. It didn’t take long.

There were three things he wanted, which no one seemed able to provide, and he was explaining that because they didn’t have this information, he would be incapable of assisting them.

1. Do you have a receipt?

2. What is your reason for returning the item?

3. Since we can’t take it off your debit card, will you accept store credit for your purchase?

As I got closer and closer to my opportunity to interact with this human, I learned the appropriate answers:

Yes, I have a receipt.

Secondly, it was a gift and I don’t really want it.

And third, I would be willing to accept store credit—unless I can have cash.

By the time it was my turn to face the inquisition, he looked at me with wary eyes and asked his questions. I answered all three, already knowing what to say, what tone to use, and how it was best not to overexplain.

I was out of there in less than two minutes—and he even made an exception by refunding cash to me instead of store credit. As I walked away, the person behind me remarked:

“Well, that sure went smoothly for you. Are you related to him?”

I looked at the gentleman and replied, “No, he’s my teacher, and he taught me everything I needed to know.”


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