The president of Harvard University looked up to see two people entering his office. Visitors were always stopping by to visit, to gab, to complain. I never can get anything done, the man sighed in frustration.
His latest disruptions appeared to be simple farmers. Well, he’d show them how busy he was. He picked up a letter and began reading. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched his visitors seat themselves and then wait. Good. Farmers should wait.
He read slowly, deliberately. Only when he’d finished did he speak. «Well,» he snapped, «what do you want? Hurry. My time is extremely limited.»
The farmer stood and bowed courteously. «We’re sorry to interrupt,» he said. «Since you’re so busy, we shouldn’t take your time.» He smiled at his wife. «We’ll be going.»
Good riddance, the president thought as he watched the couple leave. That’s the way to treat farmers. Now I can get back to my important work.
The president was right. His visitors were farmers. They also owned nine thousand of the finest and most productive acres In California. The man in worn work clothes had been governor of that state and would soon be one of its senators. He’d built the western end of the transcontinental railroad and had come to give the university president several million dollars for his university. But the man behind the desk had been too busy to listen to his donors.
Instead, those two «farmers» went back to California and started their own college as a memorial to their son, Leland Stanford, Jr. Stanford University is one of the most respected institutions of higher learning in the world today. Millions of dollars—If the president had just been polite!