Too Busy for a Friend

Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert – May 7, 1998

One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name.

Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down.

It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.

That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual.

On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. ‘Really?’ she heard whispered. ‘I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!’ and, ‘I didn’t know others liked me so much,’ were most of the comments.

No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn’t matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on.

Several years later, one of the students was killed in Vietnam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature.

The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin.

As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. ‘Were you Mark’s math teacher?’ he asked. She nodded: ‘yes.’ Then he said: ‘Mark talked about you a lot.’

After the funeral, most of Mark’s former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark’s mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher.

‘We want to show you something,’ his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket ‘They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it.’

Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark’s classmates had said about him.

‘Thank you so much for doing that,’ Mark’s mother said. ‘As you can see, Mark treasured it.’

All of Mark’s former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, ‘I still have my list. It’s in the top drawer of my desk at home.’

Chuck’s wife said, ‘Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album.’

‘I have mine too,’ Marilyn said. ‘It’s in my diary’

Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. ‘I carry this with me at all times,’ Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued: ‘I think we all saved our lists’

That’s when the teacher finally sat down and cried. She cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.

The density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day. And we don’t know when that one day will be.

So please, tell the people you love and care for, that they are special and important. Tell them, before it is too late.

By Sister Helen Mrosla
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29 comments
  1. Arlene said:

    Beautiful. What a wonderful idea…what a wonderful gift!

  2. kiwiskan said:

    Absolutely. This is probably the most important thing you can do for them. Thanks

  3. This is so touching. Thank you for sharing! Our words indeed have the power to build up or destroy…and by His grace, may we continue to bless others with our lives.

  4. Thank you. brought a tear to my eyes.
    Is it true through?
    I do hope it is.
    Even if its not it is a very important point, we need to let others know what they mean to us.

    • Hey Chris, I agree with you, even if this is not a true story it should be!!!! And It can be if we let it…. Take Care and God Bless 🙂 Kenny T

  5. I hate to judge these stories by the tears they bring to my eyes, but this one deserves all five cups of coffee. … and, just so you know, YOU are special and important to me! Have a great day, Kenny! 🙂

  6. Another cup of tea. Another beautiful story. Quite a few more tears! Thank you, Kenny. May God bless your day. Connie

  7. Ok, maybe it should be BOXES 😀 . May we never have another missed opportunity. Very good story and a testament to what is our treasure–is it material things or something much closer to God’s heart? Thank you and take care.

    • Hey, thanks for the comment!!! If I don’t get to talk with you again before Thanksgiving, I hope you have a Blessed day!!! 🙂 Kenny T

      • Kenny, you, too. May you continue to have so many blessings and may all of them be glorious. Thanks so much for blessing my life… 😀

  8. wouldn’t that make everyone’s day – to hear one kind word from someone? Thank you for the reminder that we can be that little spot of light when others are cast in the world’s shadows. Here’s my kind word – I love reading your inspirational posts; they make my day brighter! Thanks for being warm sunshine. 🙂

  9. I wonder if Sister Helen was that teacher. Speculation, but I think so. If I were still teaching, I would be doing this in class next Monday.

    • I hope Post plants a seed for this to be done in class rooms everywhere!!!! Thanks for the comment and I hope you have a Wonderful Thanksgiving!!! Take Care and God Bless 🙂 Kenny T

  10. What a tear jerker… I hope nobody sees me… 🙂

  11. Very well said!

    A year or so ago, I took this message to heart and wrote a letter to my elderly father expressing this sentiment. He’s still alive and in his right mind. Still, he said he appreciated the sentiment, and I was glad that I did it. 🙂

    Life’s too short to look forward to regret, yanno?

  12. Debbie said:

    Once again you have touched my heart, and gave me a great reminder of how important it is to show others we care.

  13. Judy Berman said:

    A beautiful story. I am posting it on Facebook.

  14. Lex said:

    What a beautiful story! Reminds me of an activity that I did when I was a Girl Guide and that I have repeated with my girls every year since becoming a Guider myself.

    We start sitting in a circle either on the floor or around a table. Each girl, and guider is given a piece of paper and they are asked to write their name on the top of the page. We then all pass our papers to next person around the table and they write one nice thing about the person who’s paper they have. Then they fold the paper so that no one can read what they wrote and pass it to the next person around the circle and they write a nice comment and pass the paper on again. Once everyone has had an opportunity to write on the others papers the leaders collect the papers and cut apart each entry. While we’re doing this the girls decorate small jars that we have for them. They only real instructions we give them are to decorate them so that when they look at their jar it makes them happy. We give them tissue paper, news print, sequins, glitter, glue, felt, fun foam, whatever we have in our craft closet and they just LOVE going to town with the jars. Once the jars have dried each girl is given their papers and they fold them and place them in their jars. We give them a few other little things each with a special meaning to place in with the papers and we remind them to turn to their jars whenever they are feeling blue, or upset, or alone, if they need a little pick me up or if they just want to be reminded how special they are.

    I’ve done this activity with girls as young as five and with leaders will into their senior years and everyone enjoys the activity every time. With our younger girls we do have to help with the writing but the impact is still the same. For the first couple of years I made a new jar with my girls every year but that collection started to grow just a little too big. Now I have my original jar and a slightly larger jar one that I have packed all of our years of papers into. Every time I move, and I’ve moved a lot those jars are one of the most precious things I pack. They are wrapped more carefully than my finest China and their box is special labeled 🙂 so that I know exactly where I can find my jars when I need a break from the stress of moving and unpacking. I always hoped we were doing something special, and something memorable for our girls, something that would help them through the more challenging moments of their youth but I never thought of any of them holding on to them like I do. I wonder how many of the girls from my unit all those years ago, and how many of ‘my’ girls still cherish their jars like I do?

    • Thanks for taking the time to tell us your story. This is awesome!!!!! What if one of your Girls reads this Post and see’s your comment…… Take Care and God Bless 🙂 Kenny T

  15. I enjoyed the story, and I admit a tear wanted to commit suicide off my cheek. I don’t think it needs to be a gush of touching comments however. In our nonprofit (AVP) workshops, we start out with a simple exercise called the Adjective Name Game. Everyone sits in a circle, including facilitators…and it goes around to each person, who is instructed to choose a POSITIVE adjective to go with their first name (usually one that starts with the same letter). As it comes to each person for their turn, they are asked to tell the adjective name combination for each person preceding them in the circle, until at the last person, he or she tells the name for each person in the workshop. Whether you’re the first person or the last, you’ve heard everyone’s name at least once, and potentially a lot of times, and had a turn at choosing to remember who they are. Then throughout the workshop, when it’s your turn to speak for an exercise, you reintroduce yourself with your adjective name first, then say whatever is needed. This reminds everyone who you are, and gives a positive reference to you by using the positive adjective. Other exercises practice affirming others, and exercising the ability to both speak and be heard, and to listen quietly while others speak…about themselves, about you, about various subjects. We do indeed need to reach out. Although this is a workshop I’m talking about, many who get involved make it a way of life, creating a ripple of good relations throughout the world they walk in. There is always something good you can find, or say, or do…and you can choose it, even if there is a lot more going on that may appear negative. Choosing to focus on and emphasize the good you see, reinforces it, and gives it space to grow.

    • Awesome introduction warm up for small groups!!! Thanks for sharing!!

      Take Care and God Bless 🙂 Kenny T

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