anadyr, formerly known as SS:
I think I'll bite on this one because most of my life I fall into the 'bad guy' category through my business dealings (taking bad businesses and making them good) and a lot of people probably looked at me as a 'hatchet' guy, although the folks who stayed were always thankful I was.
But, that being said, I can be a nice guy every once in a Millenium or so. Many, many years ago I bought a bunch of houses in a small town in the Tampa area of Florida. Twelve of them. Rented them all. Had good renters and bad renters, we all know the deal. But, there was this one property where I rented to a middle aged couple that treated that property like it was theirs. They painted it, repaired it, improved it and were just the nicest people one could ever hope to meet. He was disabled...and I won't go into what his disability was. But, he loved that home. I never raised his rent because he was such a good tenant. I would go down and ask him and his wife out to dinner. They were always embarrassed and said that nobody ever did that for them (I'm sure because of the disability), but they'd be happy to go. I would always ask them where they would like to go for a treat....and their big treat was to go to a Wendy's. Seriously...they were truly excited to go there. Very simple people who just had nothing and spent nothing on anything they couldn't afford.
Then, I decided that the landlord business wasn't my thing any more. I put every home on the market. They were devastated. Just broken down devastated. Really. I understood because they had always thought that they would live there the rest of their lives. Now, this wasn't any magnanimous home. A simple Florida ranch. But over the 20 or so years they had rented they had made it 'their' place. They were, at the time I decided to sell, in their mid 60's. They had never owned a home because they never had the money. But, they were truly wonderful people....just folks who never had a break because of his disability. In actuality (and I won't go into detail) people were miserable to them. Why folks treated them that way I'll never understand.
Their sincerity and devastation about this had made such an impression on me that I called him a few days after telling them the house was going on the market and made him an offer. I told him I would sell him the home and take back the loan if he could just get together a down payment. He asked how much I needed and I asked how much he could afford. He called me a few days later and said he would really work hard to come up with $2000 if he could sell some stuff he had and if that would be good enough for me to get started.
I told him not to worry about it and that I would not sell the home until all the others had been sold and at that time we would work out the arrangement for him to own the home. I went down a couple more times before I sold all the properties and they cried (literally) about how nobody had ever given them a chance like I was to actually own their own home and they never thought they would ever get that chance.
The houses sold pretty quickly (less than 2 months...times were good then and I had low priced to sell) and I was down to the last home and I called and told them I was coming to Florida for the closing on the last property the next week and that we could also do a closing on his home at that time. He told me he didn't think he could get the money together by then but he was still trying as hard as he could. I told him not to be concerned as we could work it out at the closing.
They came to the closing and I gave them the deed to the property. Gave them the home. I really wanted to because I wanted them to know that there was good in the world.
They broke down in tears and had no idea what to say as nobody had ever done anything like that for them. They called and wrote me until he died about 8 years later. I've never forgotten them. Wonderful, wonderful folks.
That is truly a wonderful story and such an amazing, selfless thing that you have done! The business world is never a nice one, and you did what you had to do... and what you did likely helped people in the end anyhow. I wouldn't call you a bad person just because of the things you did. I mean, Aprey refused to send AA into BK when he was CEO because of what it would do to the employees... but many would argue now that he did more harm than good by waiting so long to file for BK.
But again, what an amazing story. Thank you for sharing! The world is a better place because of people like you.
That was such a wonderful story. It made me cry. So much of the world needs this sort of kindness. It's truly what makes life worth living. And not to take anything at all away from your truly significant act of kindness and generosity, but folks like the tenants in your story must have made it a joy, even perhaps easy to offer such a profound level of kindness. Humble, grateful and hardworking. Just the sort of virtue that one would joyously want to celebrate and acknowledge with reward. They themselves offer their own contribution of profound beauty to the world as well. I heard it once said that with each action or word, we contribute either one of two things to this world: ugliness or beauty. May we each always contribute beauty to our world.
Congratulations on such sweetness in living, and thank you for sharing such a beautiful story with us as well.
I can't say enough about how wonderful that was, for you to do that for them! You have my deepset respect.
I know what you mean about having to be the bad guy, and how that can be really hard. I remember when I was still in the Air Force and was put in the poisiton of being a section commander for a military group of about 500 people. I don't consider myself a "tough personality", and I struggled with some of the decisions I had to make, such as sending some people to jail, and ending the careers of a few. Although they were cases that warranted the punishments, it would make my stomach knot up and caused me a lot of stress. My First Sergeant gave me some great advice, which has always helped me deal with those kinds of situations. She told me that when I had to do those kinds of things, go out and go out of your way to do something kind to someone else, right away. She was right. It took lot of weight off, by getting the pleasure of helping someone out. Kind of like seeing a new life begin helps to get back a little perspective from the pain of losing someone you love. Kind of the Yin and Yang, I guess.
Thanks for the kind replies but, to me, I really felt so good when I did that because they were so nice and had such a troubled and difficult life. They really were wonderful folks.
But, I've got another one for you (it was that turn of the Millenium I think). During my working career my wife and I had a 'sidelight' business...a restaurant we owned in Hopkinton, MA. Michelle ran it but it really was an 'all consuming' business for a sidelight...a breakfast and lunch place in an old 'converted' home just off Rte 495. You couldn't get a seat at 5AM with all the regulars and that kept up all day...and the weekends.... well out the door and around the building was the waiting line.
We had it for 20+ years and the employees...well, let's just say that the dishwasher had been there over 10 years. The cooks since we opened the doors. We took really good care of them with pay and benefits so they enjoyed working there. We owned the land and building so we paid ourselves rent from the business. But, after all was done at year end the business was, let's say, extremely profitable.
Now, along comes the 'big chain fast food' restaurant folks (remember, just off Rte 495 superhighway) and offer us a 'bundle' (7 figures). I was retiring and didn't want to be involved with it after I stopped working. A very lucrative offer. But, if we sold it everybody who worked there would be out of a job. So, we came up with this plan....we would 'give' the business to the employees (yes, all the profits would be theirs) as long as they were willing to keep the business model as it was. That was the only requirement. They agreed and still run the business today and they all were able to keep their jobs. We still owned the buildings and land, but they had their own business and it was now theirs to run and enjoy the profits. They are all doing extremely well and to this day are glad we gave them the chance rather than those big guys.
We made them an offer to buy the buildings and land ten years after we gave them the business ( I wasn't going to give away this land, it's worth millions) and we took back the mortgage because, as we know, no banks are lending to commercial businesses with out a BUNDLE of cash up front. We did the deal two years ago and they are all happy as clams.
Now I know this story doesn't touch the goodness of the earlier one, but, fact is, we could have gotten a bundle of dough just to sell the business, but we felt really good about giving it to the employees who had been there with us and also helping them all keep their jobs. After all, they had really 'made' the business what it was, so why not give it to them?
I think we have become jaded (not you and me of course) in that we as a nation seem to engage in instant gratification and speed of light decision making, forgetting that the "send" button on our computers seldom considers ethical or moral implications. That said, sure sounds as if you've alway been a careful decision maker with a heart. For that you deserve the highest of high marks.
Anadyr - What a great discussion thread. Last December 31st I was in St. Petersburg, Florida and Brenda had to pay a bill at the City of St. Pete payment office. Right next door to it was the office where residents go to obtain resident parking permits for their particular street. As Brenda and I were crossing the street after she paid her bill, I saw lying in the street, face down, something that looked as if it could be a parking permit. At first I didn't think anything of it, and continued on, but then thought, "I wonder if that is a brand new sticker for 2013 and the person just bought it and dropped it?" So, I ran back, dodged cars and was able to retrieve it. It was a new parking permit. I went right into the permit office and they confirmed that it was a newly purchased one, and that, based on the number on it, they could track the purchaser and contact him or her and return it to them. Doing that really made me feel as if I was getting the New Year off on the right foot.
NH, that's very nice. It can sometimes be easy to get self involved and it's nice to stop and show kindness to a "neighbor." Hey, you know, I never eat fast food, but makes me want to go to the drive through just so I can pay for the car behind me. In fact, I'm reminded that one time I was in the grocery store probably about 5 years ago and can't remember exactly but maybe it was something like the checker and I neglected to get about a half dozen 2 liter bottles of soda rung up on the bill and I discovered it after the payment transaction had completed. Before I could take care of it, the guy behind me had covered it. I was you know, going on about it, "No, really, really, it's okay, etc." and he just quietly said, "don't worry about it." Thanks! So much!