This I Believe

David - Syracuse, New York
Entered on September 6, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

It’s a simple question that most of the time receives a simple answer. As one goes through college and meets people in the dorm or the classroom, it’s common to ask “who does your father work for.”

While today that is an easy reply, for a time during my middle school years, I didn’t have a response.

I’ll never forget that dinner. My brother, mother and I were sat around the table. Dinner was underway and we were waiting for the arrival of my father from another day of strenuous work in his office building in New York City. As he walked through the threshold into the kitchen, he almost nonchalantly said that he was laid off.

Even though at the time I was relatively young, I still understood what that meant. It was news that stunned our whole family. No one seemed to have an appetite anymore. The time my father was out of a job was one of the most adverse points of my life. However, I learned a lot from my father’s experience.

What I soon began to learn was the class my dad displayed. Even as his time dwindled at his former employer, he continued his hard work and professional attitude. He treated everyone around him with respect, even those responsible for his firing.

After two years of temp work at a number of different companies, my father received the most unexpected of calls. It was his old company, asking him back.

This is why I believe to never burn any bridges.

You never know when a person of the past will influence you in the future. Someone that works for you now could be in a position to hire you later on in life. It’s impossible to predict how everything in life will unfold.

Not burning any bridges is also about treating people equally and fairly regardless of their social, economic or professional status. At a moment’s notice and without warning, everything can be taken away from you; you then become someone you’ve spent your life mocking.

As I go through college and pursue a career in broadcasting, I will live by this philosophical belief. At this point I have no idea what part of the country I’ll end up in or what sports teams I’ll be covering. Yet there is a good chance I’ll cross paths with someone from my past. I can only hope he or she has a positive opinion of me and would be willing to lend a helping hand in whatever way they can.

Choose your words carefully. Own your actions. Don’t burn any bridges.