A lady in a faded gingham dress and her husband, dressed in a homespun threadbare suit, stepped off the train in Boston, and walked timidly without an appointment into the president of a famous university’s outer office.
The secretary could tell in a moment that such backwoods, country hicks had no business at the university and probably didn’t even deserve to be in a university which is more famous. She frowned. “We want to see the president,” the man said softly.
“He’ll be busy all day,” the secretary snapped.
“We’ll wait,” the lady replied.
For hours, the secretary ignored them, hoping that the couple would finally become discouraged and go away. They didn’t. And the secretary grew frustrated and finally decided to disturb the president, even though it was a chore she always regretted to do. “Maybe if they just see you for a few minutes, they’ll leave,” she told him. And he signed in exasperation and nodded.
Someone of his importance obviously didn’t have the time to spend with them, but he detested gingham dresses and homespun suits cluttering up his outer office. The president, stern-faced with dignity, strutted toward the couple.
The lady told him, “We had a son that attended this school for one year. He loved this school. He was happy here. But about a year ago, he was accidentally killed. And my husband and I would like to erect a memorial to him, somewhere on campus.” The president wasn’t touched; he was shocked.
“Madam,” he said gruffly, “We can’t put up a statue for every person who attended this school and died. If we did, this place would look like a cemetery.”
“Oh, no,” the lady explained quickly, “We don’t want to erect a statue. We thought we would like to give a building to this university.”
The president rolled his eyes. He glanced at the gingham dress and homespun suit, then exclaimed, “A building! Do you have any earthly idea how much a building costs? We have over seven and a half million dollars in the physical plant at here.” For a moment the lady was silent. The president was pleased. He could get rid of them now.
And the lady turned to her husband and said quietly, “Is that all it costs to start a university? Why don’t we just start our own?” Her husband nodded.
The president’s face wilted in confusion and bewilderment.
And then, the country hicks couple, traveling to another town, where they established the university that bears their name, a memorial to a son that his son’s school no longer cared about.
Yeah, it’s a “legend”—or fiction?—of Stanford university. But, it’s not the point. We can still get the moral value from the story. We often judge people from how they look like. We can’t always do that, because one day, we’ll see that we were wrong. Someone that poor-looked could be rich in the real life.