Monday, February 19, 2007

The Importance of A Little Follow Up

The Importance Of A Little Follow-Up
(On Verification)

Years ago, in a tiny Alabama town, Little Billy and his friend Jack, would play together for hours on end when they weren’t at school. Typical country kids, running bare foot and wild when allowed, but on the whole, well behaved with only minor brushes with mischief, until one day, Little Jack, showed his mean streak and approached Billy with a deceptive proposition for trouble.

“Hey, let’s go over and cut some of Ms Jackson’s roses from her bushes,” he said with a wild eyed look on his long red haired, freckled face.

Billy, the more clean cut, tall, sensitive and reserved of the two, knew Ms Jackson’s roses, like her famous corn bread, were a source of pride and joy for the widow. She grew them each year, paying close attention to every detail and once bloomed, the roses were a sight for everyone to behold.

Besides that, Ms Jackson was also a big stout no-nonsense Southern woman who was known to stand on her back porch and shoot at the crows on her muscadine vines. But Jack, always certain and self cofident, was sure they’d get away with some roses, and he used his cocksureness to twist, turn, and in the end, convince Billy that all was okay, and thatin fact, Ms Jackson herself, had once said she didn’t mind if people took her roses.

Unfortunately for everyone, Billy was about to take Jack at his word and follow his foolish pied piper friend into trouble. Truth be told, Jack hadn't told Billy the entire story. Ms Jackson never said, she didn’t care if people cut her roses. Instead, Jack had overheard Ms Jackson tell his Mother that she was happy everyone enjoyed her roses. But, in what was clearly a self-serving and selfish move, Jack convincingly manipulated her words to justify this future mission of mischief to his friend.

So, one afternoon, after a little bit of planning, the two eight year olds, took a pair Jack’s Mother’s sewing scissors, snuck in through a thicket of pine trees, and with stealth determination, ran up to the bushes and began cutting a few of the roses. But, Jack, who was the shorter of the two, stuck his finger with a thorn, and when he shrieked in pain, it signaled nosy Ms Jones across the street, who came to her window, saw the boys in the bushes, and promptly called Ms Jackson, letting her know of the theft in her midst.

Ms Jackson, stormed onto her front porch, yelled at the boys, then rushed back inside and called their Mothers. The two rose thieves, guilty and caught, ran like the wind, with Billy feeling a sense of doom, for what may lay in store.

Beyond the screams and tears, time restricted to his room, the belt his father would wield, the most difficult punishment was yet to come. Billy’s Mother would insist that he apologize. She told him he would have to march over to Ms Jackson’s, knock on her door, look her in the face, and say, how sorry he was for cutting her prized roses.

It would take every ounce of courage, every brave bone in his body, the burying of all his fears to go and face Ms Jackson. But, the day after the crime, Billy, mustered up the determination, filled with resolve and regret, marched over to Ms Jackson’s, knocked on the door, and faced the woman who’s roses he’d violated. Billy looked Ms Jackson in the face, and said, I’m sorry.

But, then, Ms. Jackson said something that made Billy regret what he’d done even more. She told Billy that he should have just asked her permission before cutting her roses. Truth be told, if Billy had followed up and verified Jack's word's with Ms Jackson, she would have given him the okay to cut a few of her flowers.

'Boy, would you believe Jack if he told you the firechief said set the school on fire" said Ms Jackson, insisting one should always ask the reported source of information for such serious matters.

Billy realized his apology was not so much for the lost roses, but instead for not exerting enough effort and respect to ask Ms Jackson’s permission. If Billy had simply not taken Jack’s word at face value in a matter of such importance, especially where Ms Jackson was concerned, he might have avoided what turned out to be a painful chain of events.

In the end, his apology was largely symbolic, apeasing his Mother, but also instilling some character in him through an important lesson learned.

Lesson Learned?

A little following up and verification is always important and can often lead to completely different outcomes.

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