This I Believe

John - Marietta, Georgia
Entered on December 13, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

People are more anxious to help than I imagined. More often than not, I did not have to ask. Once I explained my goals, patient listeners helped me find a way. I was attracted to a total stranger at Independence Hall in Philadelphia in 1979, and couldn’t summon the courage to introduce myself. But I managed a snapshot of her when she touched the Liberty Bell. I thought about her during the rest of our trip, and finally wrote a letter about the chance encounter to national news commentator Paul Harvey. To my complete surprise, he mentioned it on the radio. That led to radio and television interviews across the nation. Everywhere, it seemed, people wanted to help find the Liberty Belle! We never found her, but that experience gave me the confidence to move to New York City and pursue acting.

Manhattan is another world. A foot of snow arrived soon after I did. When it hardened on the sidewalk, I was walking to work and then slipped suddenly, landing on my backside. At least three people stopped to help me on my feet and ask if I was okay. The City people weren’t as harsh as I was led to believe. Once, while sitting in my Jeep on the George Washington Bridge, I was stuck behind an 18-wheeler that wasn’t moving. Rain had soaked the roads and traffic was heavy. I turned on my blinker and slowly eased left to move around the truck, only to discover that the driver in the next lane was literally screaming at me. There was enough light to see her surprised passengers’ faces, indicating her use of strong language. I managed to get the front passenger’s attention and we rolled down our windows. I leaned out and politely asked, “May I please move over? I can’t get around this truck.” The transformation of the driver was miraculous. “Sure,” she shouted back with a smile, “Come on over.” Her passengers were hysterical at the change in attitude. Just that little personal contact enabled us to connect as two human beings. Then she was anxious to help.

When my wife Amy and I launched in 1999, we took $700.00 from our meager savings account and bought a business license and a few items to sell. I didn’t know how to build a Website, so I turned to an unlikely source—my employer. I’d been with computer giant IBM for 22 years. Once I stated my goals to a fellow employee with the Internet division, a team of people helped me build the Website and launch the company that freed me from my job just seven months later. What a Country!

I still drive a Jeep, now with our company logo on the door. People often stop me and ask, “What is” After I explain, I always ask what they do for work. That’s how I met our new Website developer. He too was anxious to help.