Remember When Personal Values Meant Something?

Read the following short story and see if it doesn’t bring back a few memories:

Two Nickels and Five Pennies

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less than it does today, a 10-year-old boy entered a drug store and took a seat at the soda fountain. As the waitress set a glass of water in front of him, the polite young man asked: “How much is an ice cream sundae?”

“50 cents,” replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied a number of coins in it. “How much is a dish of plain ice cream?” he asked.

Some people were waiting for their order and the waitress was a bit impatient. “35 cents,” she said briskly.

The little boy recounted the coins and said, “I’ll have the plain ice cream.”

The waitress soon brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The little boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier, and walked away.

When the waitress came back, she began wiping down the soda bar and then swallowed hard at what she saw. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies—her tip!

What are the chances of seeing this scenario occur today?

Back in what we fondly call “the good old days,” we learned true values from our parents, grandparents, teachers, and religious leaders. A few words and continuous examples taught us what we needed to know to succeed. We learned manners, respect for our elders, fairness, and beliefs and values from those we loved, trusted and respected. What happened?

Today, you can’t pick up a newspaper or turn on the television without learning of another scandal of some sort. Actors, athletes, politicians, religious leaders, teachers, business icons … the list goes on and on. It’s rather frightening that we’re banking the country’s success on a generation who has few, if any, role models and less support than ever before. In addition, we’re bequeathing them the largest deficit in the history of our country and an education system which falls far short of what is necessary to prepare our children for the future challenges they will soon face.

We’ve proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that throwing money at the issue has had no effect. Rather than feeling overwhelmed at the enormity of the challenge and simply throwing in the towel, maybe, in this case, we should turn back the hands of time to an approach we know makes a difference. Maybe it’s time that we, as parents, grandparents, teachers, and other respected members of the community returned to our rightful responsibility as role models.

How big an impact could we make if each of us devoted 30 to 60 minutes a day simply sitting and chatting with a member of a younger generation? Share stories, ask questions, exchange knowledge, explain today’s world, explore family history, and simply communicate at a time when it can make a crucial difference. If we ALL would strive to mentor just a few of those who could benefit, you’d see a phenomenal difference. Do you have a better alternative? No one else has come up with one as yet. Give it a shot!

About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

One thought on “Remember When Personal Values Meant Something?

  1. What a wonderful story. I am ashamed to ask but I wonder how many of our children today would even understand this story. I want so badly to ask my three children who they look up to as role models today but I fear what I may hear. Thank you for your eye-opening material. I read you daily as do many at work.

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