Don't Mess With Big Bird

by Larry R. Hochman - Date: 2007-01-21 - Word Count: 661 Share This!

This is a story about someone else...not me. It's about Ralph - yeah, that's his name - Ralph!

Ralph was on his summer break between semesters of college. He was a pretty good kid but had a little problem once in a while with his self-esteem.

He was the kind of kid who was willing to let other people go first all the time - not that this is a bad thing - but sometimes he would let people get things that he deserved and they didn't.

Anyway, Ralph was working as an electrician's helper during the hot summer months of June and July. For those of you who have never been an electrician's helper, it's a far different job from being an electrician.

One of the most important jobs of the electrician's helper is to make sure that you get the morning and afternoon coffee break orders correct for the electricians. If you don't do that, you're guaranteed to be relocated to an open construction site digging a ditch for buried cable.

(Not that I would personally know anything about this, since this is a story about Ralph and not me.)

So Ralph was pretty conscientious about his duties of coffee break procurement. He wrote all the orders down on his trusty napkin and kept track of who paid what and how much change each person was entitled to.

A good electrician's helper was Ralph.

One of the guys for whom Ralph got morning break was a guy named Big Bird. I'm sure this wasn't his given name, but everyone called him that, and at six foot eight inches or so, it seemed pretty appropriate.

The only difference was that the television Big Bird was never quite as surly as the human version. You could always look up to Big Bird's face for a good sneer.

One morning Ralph was filling coffee break orders for Big Bird and a few others on the crew. Big Bird ordered a banana and a coffee. Ralph walked from the job site across the street to the deli and started to gather up the order.

Now for whatever reason, Ralph filled Big Bird's order as if he were buying for himself. Out of all the bananas in the display, he picked the smallest one. He filled the rest of the orders (getting everything else right, as usual) and started back for the job site.

Ralph handed the orders to the gentlemen on the job, and came to Big Bird, coffee and puny banana in hand.

Big Bird stared down at little Ralph, with the others close by. He looked in silence for a moment, and then bellowed, "WHAT KIND OF BANANA IS THIS!!!"

The other guys looked on as if it were Gunfight at the OK Corral, only Big Bird had a machine gun and Ralph had a straw and spitballs.

Fortunately, Ralph had gone to the restroom a few minutes before starting his rounds for the morning break. Had he had a full bladder at that point, the embarrassment would have killed him.

What to say to Big Bird? There was nothing.

Ralph correctly figured out at that moment his habit of selling himself short put him in a situation where this towering mammal could have ended his electrical and college careers, not to mention his human existence.

Big Bird must have sensed the helpless terror in Ralph, and decided to back away, growling to his colleagues all the way.

Ralph learned two important lessons that morning. First, think of the person with whom you are interacting at the moment and don't assume what you want is what they want.

Second, raising one's expectations out of life, whether it's bananas or the temperature of one's food at a restaurant, or simple human respect in daily interactions is a good thing.

Sometimes it's how you survive a hostile world.

I don't know what happen to Big Bird, but Ralph graduated from college, sought professional help in all matters electrical, and always looked for the biggest and best when buying fruit.

If I see Ralph around I'll tell him you said hello.

Related Tags: home business, personal development, motivation, life, self-help

Larry Hochman is the founder of JUGGLE TO SUCCESS, an innovative personal and professional development program that has educated, entertained and inspired many people. Visit Larry at http://www.LarryHochman.Biz

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