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Five years ago yesterday it was, at two o’clock in the morning; I am not likely to forget the place or the hour. A pile of days and hours put on the counter of the world with a sign inviting every Tom, Dick, and Harry to take one?
From four-thirty, when the president of our company and I faced each other across his desk, until eleven-thirty, when I left him at his door, we fought the thing back and forth. ” It was in that solemn morning hour, as I have said, that I formally retired from the business of being Everybody’s Friend.
From eleven-thirty until two o’clock I spent in a bitter ordeal of self-examination. “More than half of your life has already been spent. For weeks I had to school myself in the hard business of saying “No.” But five years have made the cure almost complete. ” Why is it that everybody imposes upon the hapless proprietor of a drug store?
Surely, if life means anything at all, it means that each of us is entrusted with a certain irreplaceable fund of hours and weeks and years. No one ever runs into a butcher shop, and asks, “Would you mind watching Willie until I come back?
To let anybody and everybody fritter that fund away is as if the trustee of an estate were to deposit the estate’s funds in a bank and issue check books to whoever applied. A bald, worried little man, perpetually tired but perpetually smiling — nodding his head and murmuring, “Right away, Mrs. ” No one, expects a hardware merchant to carry two-cent stamps, or grumbles at him, because he happens to be out of postal cards on Sunday afternoons.
Some of us are born good-natured, some acquire good-nature, and some have good-nature thrust upon us. No one rings excitedly at the front door of the feed merchant and pulls him out of bed at two o’clock for some trivial purchase that might just as easily have been made before the store closed in the evening.But there is absolutely nothing that people will not ask and expect a druggist to do.My father had a competitor across the street and one block down.Our whole lives were passed in fear of what that competitor was doing or might do.Lest he should gain some advantage, it was impressed upon us that we must go the limit in being accommodating.It goes without saying that Father belonged to every lodge and society in town. With all his twelve or fifteen hours of work a day, our family finances were never a nickel ahead.