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A Good Taxi Story Reminder

For  today’s blog, I am posting the story from the website credited below, as told by a former taxi driver named Kent Nerburn. It’s a little long but a great reminder.

The last ride

(academictips.org)

I used to drive a taxi. One one occasion, I arrived at night for a pick up at a building that was dark, except for a single light in a ground floor window. 

Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away. But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself. So I walked to the door and knocked.

Just a minute,” answered a frail, elderly voice

I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a hat like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase.

In the apartment, all the furniture was covered with sheets. There was nothing on the walls.

Would you please carry my bag out to the car?” she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist her to the taxi. 

Then she gave me an address; then asked, “Could you drive through downtown?”

It’s not the shortest way,” I answered quickly.

Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.

I looked in the rear view mirror. Her eyes were glistening.

I don’t have any family left,” she continued. “The doctor says I don’t have very long.”

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. “What route would you like me to take?” I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked.. Then, we drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. Sometimes she’d ask me to just slow down in front of a particular building or corner.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, “I’m tired. Let’s go now.”

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. When we arrived, two nurses came out to help her inside. They were expecting her.

How much do I owe you?” she asked, reaching into her purse.

Nothing,” I said.

You have to make a living,” she answered.

“There will be other passengers later.”

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said. “Thank you.”

I squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly,  and lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry or impatient driver. What if I had honked and then just driven away?

As I think about that ride, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life. We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware—beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

And for pic o’ day…

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The Glass and Worry

Today I write on the weight of worry. It makes me think back to a story of the lady and the glass.

Right now, it seems like there are Girl Scout cookies wherever I turn. So, that is my inspiration for today’s pic o’day:
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A Bunch of Marshmallow

It was called The Marshmallow Experiment.(wikipedia) It even led to a medical article citing the findings in an article titled Cognitive and attentional mechanisms in delay of gratification. All this over waiting for a treat. But here’s what they learned.

In 1960, two researchers had an idea to experiment with marshmallows and children.  The original experiment took place at the Bing Nursery School located at Stanford University, using children between the ages of ages of four to six.

The children were led to a room where a treat (like a marshmallow) was placed on a table in front of them. They were told that they could eat the treat right away. But, if they waited for fifteen minutes without giving in to the temptation, they would be rewarded with a second treat. One treat right, now or two treats later.

The researcher left the room for 15 minutes.

The video footage of the kids alone in the room was rather entertaining. Some kids immediately ate the first marshmallow as soon as the researcher closed the door. According to the researcher, some of the kids “covered their eyes with their hands or turned around so that they could not see the tray, to avoid temptation. Others started kicking the desk, or tugging on their pigtails or even stroking or playing with the marshmallow, as if it were a tiny stuffed animal”.

Most eventually gave in to temptation a few minutes later. A few of the children did manage to wait the entire time, for the promise of another treat.

This study was published in 1972.  The Marshmallow Experiment  wasn’t famous because of the timing of the treat eating. The interesting part came years later. It’s the study in instant gratification.

In following up with those children, researchers determined that the children who were willing to delay gratification and follow the instructions to wait for the second marshmallow, ended up having higher SAT scores, lower levels of substance abuse, and even a lower likelihood of obesity. They also demonstrated better responses to stress, and better social skills.

Then, the researchers followed up with each child  more than 40 years later. Again and again, it was repeatedly shown that the the group who waited patiently for the second marshmallow, excelled in whatever capacity they were measuring.

The research showed that the ability to delay gratification was critical for success in life. “I want it now” is fine, as long as you can decide that you can also wait.

Does this mean that all parents should tempt their children with marshmallows or a treat, to see how successful they will be in 40 years? Just a blog thought on the psychology of being able to wait.

And for pic o’ day, I am posting one that was sent to me under the “it was so cold”.

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However, as I looked at that “cold picture”… it also seemed mighty cold toward the chickens, so I am posting another one to leave you more positive! Or less of something?

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Butterball Lawyer?

Yesterday was our office Christmas breakfast. It has evolved over the years from a dinner, to a lunch, to now just breakfast. Our Richmond and Virginia Beach offices were both there. Over the past years, the staff has generally expressed that they enjoy having breakfast and then the rest of the day off…. “so they can shop like it’s their job!”. That always makes me laugh.

One of the attorney’s wives (Karen) sitting at my breakfast table told me the following story that just happened. It shows some funny Christmas spirit…or something like that.

As Karen was driving through Carytown, she noticed an older lady limping along while dragging her grocery bags. She stopped and asked the lady if she could drive her to her house. The lady shook her off and said that she was fine. The lady then told her she had been in a car accident and that her doctor had suggested that she try to walk a bit, because it would help with her recovery.

Karen then asked her if she had an attorney. The lady looked a bit bewildered at that question. Finally, she shook her head yes and said, “Yes, it’s a Butterball“. Instead of answering whether she had an attorney, she thought that Karen had asked her, “Do you have a turkey?”. Boom!

I hope you have a great weekend!

And for pic o’ day, I am posting two that were sent to me, that made me smile:

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and

 

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Remembering What We Don’t Remember

Ben Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn”. Here is the story of a psychologist who would differ with that statement.

If you go to Elizabeth Loftus’ Wikipeida page, you will learn about her psychological studies and how she has faced great criticism  for her studies and findings in the field of false memories. She has testified many times as an expert witness in criminal cases while qualifying as an expert in Behavioral Psychology.

You might be interested in reading more on her therapeutic studies on weight loss and controlling the desire to lose weight through psychology. For the purposes of her impact in the field of law, I have read about her studies and belief that eyewitness testimony can be altered, based on the ability to alter a person’s memory of an event.

In an experiment done in the 1970’s, they brought people in and showed them slides of a car hitting a pedestrian. They were shown a slide of a red little sports car (Datsun) at a yellow Yield sign.

Then, the “test subjects” were asked  “Did you see another car pass the Datsun at the stop sign?”. When asked that question, most of the group truly remembered a Stop sign instead of a Yield sign.

Her studies thereafter set out to prove or disprove that a person’s memory could be changed or impacted and that the accuracy of memory became inaccurate.

Her findings have caused her to testify repeatedly that eyewitness testimony can be altered, and that something as simple as words and presentation can alter memory. Her testimony can be used to attack the testimony of police officers, depending on how they interviewed witnesses.

Her testimony as an expert, versus other testimony, as sometimes been described as the “memory wars”. Her opinions do give pause on the dependability of eyewitness testimony. I wonder what Ben Franklin would say? Of course, Franklin’s memory may have been impacted a bit by his own habits. As he put it, “In wine there is wisdom; in beer there is freedom; in water there is bacteria”.

 

And for pic o’ day, this one made me laugh when Amy M. sent it to me:

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One Another’s Burdens

I know I can’t fool you. Yesterday I didn’t get a blog posted and today I am also in a scramble That’s why this is a “shorty”. I refuse to be without. So, here’s a story that I saw recently posted on Facebook that is a good reminder of “bearing one another’s burdens”. Galatians 6:2

There was a four-year-old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. 

When his mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy just said, ‘Nothing, I just helped him cry.'” [Attributed to Leo Buscalia]

And for pic o’ day I couldn’t decide whether to go with Elvis Pig

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Or Vegetarian Hunter.

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Hence… both!

 

 

Hard to Win an Argument

Stephen Hawking records the story of a well known scientist who was presenting a public lecture on astronomy during the early 1900’s. He described how the earth orbits around the sun. That the sun, in turn, then orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy.

At the end of his lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room stood up and verbally confronted him in front of everyone.  “What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.”

The scientist coyly smiled at her and then asked her, “If that is true, then what is the turtle standing on”. “You’re very clever, young man, very clever”,  said the little old lady, “But it’s turtles all the way down!”.

I was reminded of this logic this past week as my trial Listserv group was filled with opinion messages. Someone started with the subject title of off-topic. It became a discussion about Muslims and Donald Trump. Soon, lawyer after lawyer was chiming in with opinion.

Every now and then, (by mistake) I would read one of those emails. I saw a few lawyers agree with each other. I never saw someone email back, “Wow, you have changed my mind”.

Dale Carnegie wrote about human relations, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still“. Blaise Pascal summed up persuasion, “People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have discovered, than by those which have come into the mind of others”. 

As a trial lawyer, I live in a world of persuasion. Many times at the conclusion of each case, I  find myself wanting to ask the jury, “What more should I tell you to persuade you? What do you want to hear to make up your mind?”. When I have figured that out… I have been successful for my client.

For pic o’ day, I will start posting some holiday pictures, but Amy M. sent this one and it made me laugh!

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