An Apple of What in a What?

Posted by on August 19, 1999

A Monday Morning Memo for Motorcycle Riders

Holding my charts in a manila folder, the doctor said, “Mr. Williams, I don’t know how to tell you this, but we have discovered that you have a hereditary condition for which there is no treatment.” When I asked the doctor if my condition had a name he nodded and said, “Yes, it’s called stupidity.” Then he turned on his heel and walked out of the emergency room.

I’ve never been completely sure why the doctor said what he did, but it might be because I fell off a motorcycle after falling asleep at 60 miles an hour. As I lay motionless in the middle of a winding road halfway between my office and my home, an unfortunate lady came sweeping around the corner and ran over me. Luckily, I was already unconscious at the time. I woke up in the emergency room an hour and fifteen minutes later. “Pennie,” I said, “Did I buy the $5,000 deductible policy, or the $10,000 deductible?”

You want to hear the strangest part of all? It wasn’t the doctor, the pain, the money, or the hospital food which convinced me to give up motorcycles. It was a carefully worded note from a friend, “Dear Roy, I think you should give up motorcycles and start collecting ink pens. Please find enclosed the most interesting pen I’ve ever seen. Sincerely, Skip Robbins.”

Skip wasn’t trying to be cute or witty. The genuine nature of his concern was evidenced by the fact that he had enclosed a truly remarkable, very expensive ink pen. The kind of pen that could inspire a collection. Skip felt strongly that I should give up motorcycles, but he also knew that I would resist any attempt to be shamed, begged, reasoned with, or brow beaten.

From the time I was a young boy, I have puzzled over the meaning of a phrase from an often quoted passage from the book of Proverbs. A modern paraphrase of the passage would read, “To speak just the right words at just the right time in just the right way is like apples of gold in pitchers of silver.” I doubt if Skip Robbins can explain why the writer of Proverbs chose to use the odd image of golden apples in a silver pitcher, but Skip obviously knows how to do what the writer was trying to say.

The next time you fear a person is about to make a serious mistake, speak up. You don’t have to argue, criticize, or say more than a word or two. A single word of genuine concern from a friend is a very powerful thing.

Roy H. Williams

# # #

Leave a Reply