Contemporary Legend

“It was another difficult Christmas for the New York business man who wasn’t able to provide for his family because money was scarce.  This once successful entrepreneur had recently been through rough times.  For the last few years his company had been barely getting buy and he worried that this was the year he would have to file for bankruptcy.  Upset from the stress, and the thought that he would no longer be able to provide for his family the man went for a walk.  He walked for miles and ended up in downtown New York at Central Park.  He stood on a bridge looking down at the stream below wishing that there were some way he could get himself out of this mess.  All of the sudden he saw a man standing next to him and they began to talk.  The businessman began to explain about his situation and how worried he was about his family, employees, and the business he worked so hard to build.  After a long conversation the man said that he must be going, but before he left he handed the businessman a piece of paper and told him to read it on his way home.  As they went opposite ways the businessman opened the fold piece of paper and saw that it was a check.  The check was written out for 500,000 dollars and on the top corner it said JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER.  The businessman stood in disbelief, as he quickly realized the man on the bridge was John D. Rockefeller, one of the most successful businessmen of all-time.  On the back of the check the man had written, ‘use this if things go wrong and come meet me at this bridge one years time from now’.  The man carried himself in confidence as he went back home to celebrate the holiday with his family.  With his newfound hope the man new that this would be a successful years, because he had a back up if things weren’t getting better.  The man took the check and put it in his desk, and vowed not to use it unless his business was going to go bankrupt.  The business began to thrive as bankers started to believe in the businessman and his company’s goals.

By years end the company was healthy again and things were looking up.  So when that next Christmas Eve came around, the man went to the bridge to meet Mr. Rockefeller and tell him of his success.  When he got there he saw the man, handed him back his check, and thanked him for everything he had done to help him and his business.  By surprise Mr. Rockefeller acted as if he had no idea what he was talking about.  Just as the businessman was trying to remind Mr. Rockefeller of their meeting one year ago a nurse came up to them and said, ‘I am so sorry, is he bothering you.  He keeps on telling people he John D. Rockefeller.  Like anybody would believe that’.  The man stood in disbelief as he realized that the check, which gave him the confidence he needed to turn around his company, was a fake.  It was at this point that the man realized, that the check gave him back faith in himself that he had lost during those difficult years.  In the end the lesson behind the fake check was worth far more than the dollar value written upon it.

Joseph told me he learned this from a business teacher last semester.  Fitting the setting of a business class, the teacher used this story to try and teach his students about never losing faith.  He told each of them that they would not be in the positions they are now, students at USC, if they were not smart and successful.  He reminded them that they would all face difficult times at some point in their lives but must keep the faith.

This is an example of an urban legend that has substantial meaning behind it.  While it is a great story it leaves the listener with the moral lesson that he can take on and apply to his own life.  Whether it is business or any every endeavor you take on in your life remembers to keep the faith.  When things are not going your way it often times just takes belief in yourself to overcome difficult times.