One day a businessman was strolling in the park. His head was bowed, his shoulders stooped and his eyes downcast. His business was in big trouble and after months of trying to save his company, he was on the verge of just finally giving up.
He came to the park to try to clear his mind before making final decisions. He sat down by a bench, feeling sorry for himself, fearful of what would happen to his family and wondering how things would be without a source of income.
After a while, an old man approached, politely greeted him and sat beside him. The businessman absent-mindedly greeted him back. After a long moment of silence, the old man commented: “This is an odd place for you at this time of the day. A man in a business suit sitting alone on a park bench in the early afternoon. And you seem to have plenty in your mind.”
The businessman gave him a dry smile and answered, “I need to think, and to make grave decisions. This park seems to be a good place to do it.” Then the businessman proceeded to describe the desperate condition his business was in and the bleak future he was anticipating, feeling somewhat relieved just to be able to talk to somebody about his misery.
After listening intently to his story, the old man patted the businessman on the shoulder and said, “You know, my friend, I have spent my whole lifetime in business and there were several times I found myself in exactly the same predicament you are now. I have felt what you now feel. What you need is the chance to continue fighting for your business.” The businessman could only look blankly at the old man.
Then, unexpectedly the old man said, “If you will allow me, I would like to help you. It is my life’s mission now to help distressed businessmen overcome temporary difficulties.” Then the old man took out a checkbook and wrote a check for $500,000. The old man explained, “This is a loan for you to save your company. Use it well. Exactly one year from now, I expect you to come back to this very spot with the full payment.” Then he signed the check, “John D. Rockefeller.”
The businessman profusely thanked his benefactor and promised to pay back the loan as stipulated. They then shook hands and parted. The businessman excitedly returned to his office to start the campaign of reviving his business.
He sourced new suppliers for the materials he needed for production. He ordered machine parts needed to put back his production lines into running condition. He met his sales personnel and ordered them to reach out to old and new retailers with offers of very aggressive deals and discounts. He promised his salesmen higher commissions and attractive incentives for those who attained high volume of sales. Everybody in the company was in high spirits, happy that they still kept their jobs and worked long hours to meet product demands.
But all the while, the businessman just kept the $500,000 check in his drawer. He did not encash it. He told himself he was going to use it only as reserve for unforeseen contingencies. Whenever he embarked on an aggressive business plan and felt apprehensive about it, he just took a look at the check and felt a surge of confidence knowing that he had resources to see his company through.
Months passed, and his production lines gradually became busier, sales orders increased each week and deliveries of his products kept rolling out of his factory. His revenues barely kept up with his business expenses for some months, and occasionally he had to re-negotiate payments with suppliers. But demand for his products kept rising, and he was confident that it was only a matter of time before his business actually turned out profits.
A year passed. And true to his word, the businessman was at the same spot in the park, waiting for the old man, holding in his hand the unused check for $500,000. He was eager to tell the old man of how well his business was now doing and to thank him for the help he so generously extended (despite the fact that the check was unused).
After a short while, he could see the old man slowly walking to where he was sitting, and as the old man approached, the businessman started to stand up to greet him and shake his hand. Before he could do that however, two other men wearing white uniforms of hospital attendants, suddenly appeared near them, grabbed the old man and tried to lead him away.
The businessman ran after them and asked them what they were doing and where they were taking the old man. The hospital attendants were very apologetic to him saying, “We are very sorry, Sir, if this man bothered you. We are glad to have caught up with him. He escaped from a nearby psychiatric hospital.” They assured the businessman that the old man was gentle and never violent. but that he suffers from severe hallucinations. They explained, “He keeps telling people that he is John D. Rockefeller.”