The Magic of “No” Part II: The Volunteer Who Couldn’t

Last week I talked about the mystical powers of the word “no.” I talked about the dangers of “yes” (despite the movies to tell you otherwise) and suggested analyzing what really needs to be said “yes” to and what you might want to cut out, truncate, decapitate, or reevaluate to a new position of non-importance and a default response of “no.” I’m going to share a story that I hope will demonstrate the importance of this word from both sides of a story. Today I’m going to explore one perspective in a story called “The Volunteer Who Couldn’t.”

There once was a WOMAN who needed a VOLUNTEER to help her move cans from one side of her home to the other. The house itself was quite old and where the woman kept her cans currently had a leaky roof, open windows, and critters of all kinds running around. It was no good to open rusty cans of frozen beans for dinner each night after fighting off the rats with a push broom.

The woman asked for help and VOLUNTEER valiantly stepped forward and proclaimed to the mayor of the town, “I will help this gentle woman move her cans. I swear it.” The citizens cheered, the WOMAN cried, and the mayor declared a parade in honor of the VOLUNTEER.

Each day the WOMAN would politely call and ask the VOLUNTEER why he hadn’t made it to help her that day. Each day the VOLUNTEER would apologize profusely and explain how very important things had come up: luncheons, previous volunteering obligations, additional expectations at work, flat tires, a weakened economy and so on. Each day the VOLUNTEER woke up intending to move those cans but each and every day something very important came up that had to be taken care of immediately. He knew the WOMAN continued to suffer but he also knew that he had other obligations as well. The VOLUNTEER never expected what happened at the end of the month.