9:44 AM. Scott woke slowly. No early morning alarm. NO ALARM!? Scott shot a glance at the clock. He checked the wake setting. 7PM! No, no, no, no, No, NO! His final term paper was due in 16 minutes. It was written and it was good. But if it wasn’t turned in by 10AM, it wouldn’t matter if it was Shakespeare. His teacher, Professor Cassel, was a stickler for deadlines. If the paper wasn’t on time, he’d flunk the class. If he flunked the class, he wouldn’t have enough credits to graduate. If he didn’t graduate he would lose his job offer! This was a major life defining – or a major life set back – moment.
9:47 AM. The drive to campus was ten minutes. The run to the business hall was maybe two. Getting to the car… he was already in it.
9:59 AM. Of course there had been traffic. Scott decided to park at the curb and risk the ticket. He sprinted as fast as he could and reached the classroom. But the door was locked. Impossible! Then a terrible memory dawned on him. Professor Cassel had three sessions for the class and the drop off was in a theatre classroom a couple buildings down.
Scott was running again.
10:01 AM. He threw open the doors to the dimly lit theatre. At the front of the room was the professor organizing a giant stack of papers. Scott raced down the aisle and slid to a stop. “I’m not too late am I?"
“Afraid so," said an emotionless Professor Cassel.
Scott’s stomach went into free fall. His future was being snatched from him by this merciless man. Head spinning, Scott raced to think what he could say that would sway the Professor to reconsider. Then, his gaze fixed on the tall stack of his classmates’ term papers on the table in front of him.
In a flash, he knew what to do.
“Professor, do you know who I am?"
“I have too many students to remember all their names and faces."
With that, Scott lifted the top half of the stack of papers, shoved his in the middle, and then quickly tidied them again.
“Thanks for everything," Scott chirped.
Professor Cassel stared at Scott like a still frame from an episode of “Punk’d."
Scott strode back up the aisle and out into the sunlight.
Once again, his future was looking bright.
The story above was told to me by a friend of mine about a college buddy of his. He assured me it was a true story, but I often wonder if it’s an urban legend that’s been recounted many times before.
Regardless of whether Scott did the ethical thing or not, it’s a tale about thinking on your feet. Do you think on your feet during the question time after a sales presentation? Do you have your wits about you when discussing price towards the end of a sales meeting? Do you have the right words when you’re confronted with a prospect’s objection? Or do you beat yourself up later when you realize what you should have said?