Old George

For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisors make victory sure. Proverbs 11:14

Plans fail for lack of counsel; but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22

Mark was always the first to the bank.  The time at which he arrives until the doors open is his time.  Often, he just roams the building, enjoying the quiet and stopping to admire the antique oil paintings of scenes from the Revolutionary War and past U.S. presidents he’s collected since his twenties.

Every day at fifteen minutes until 8 a.m., when the bank opens for business, Mark’s long-time business partner and best friend, Samuel, walks through the side door, carrying his camel-tinted leather briefcase and homemade cup of coffee in a chipped University of Maryland mug.  Samuel was a banker’s banker.  He was cheap and loved making money.  Mark enjoys telling the story about Samuel giving fake flowers to a woman he used to date, declaring, “they last longer and are equally as thoughtful.”  She however saw it differently, and the next day she got her real lilies.

Mark and Samuel go way back.  They grew up together.  They know each others’ deepest secrets.  The intimacy of their friendship is one of the reasons they chose to open a business together.  They simply trusted each other like no one else.

As soon as Samuel entered the bank this particular Monday morning, he saw Mark staring at “old George.”  It was a painting of George Washington with his top officers accepting the British’s surrender at Yorktown, Va., on Oct. 19, 1781. Sarah had given it to him on his 32nd birthday.

“Do you think old George would have made a good banker?” Mark asked Samuel without even glancing in his direction.

“Well, let’s see,” Samuel said, walking slowly toward Mark.  “He rose in the military ranks quite well so that shows he was at least a decent officer.  He was later promoted to general and handpicked to lead the war effort against the British so that shows, at a minimum, he had an aptitude for leading men.  Thousands of them to be fair.  Oh, and let’s not forget he won that little skirmish.  And lastly, he was elected to be the country’s first president.”

“He was also tall,” Mark added.  “Intimidatingly tall.”

Samuel was now standing next to Mark eyeing the painting.  “A most astute observation. Obvious but astute,” Samuel said.

“Yeah, you’re right. He would have been horrid,” Mark said, turning away from old George.

“So, good morning,” Samuel said. “How was your weekend?  How’s…”

“I was thinking,” Mark interrupted, “we should really reconsider charging for checking.  I know we’ve been down this road, Sam, but we could use the income, and we’re only talking a few dollars a year from customers.  I don’t think we’d lose anyone over ten dollars a year.”

“How was your weekend?” Samuel replied.

“It was fine. So what do you think?” Mark said.

“I think it’s a terrible idea,” Samuel said.  “And for all the same reasons you agreed with two months ago when we discussed this.  Have you forgotten those?”

“No I haven’t,” Mark said.  “I just have a different perspective now.  I’ve thought about it more since then, and I think it’s doable.”

Mark folded his arms over his chest, staring at his friend.

“What was the fight about this time?” Sam asked.

“What are you talking about?” Mark said, sounding frustrated.  “Sarah and I didn’t fight about anything.”

“Who said anything about Sarah?” Samuel said.

Silence filled the room for a few seconds.  “Mark, every time you all have a fight, the next morning I come through that door and catch you staring at that painting followed by an overly hypothetical question, especially given the time, and then you hit me with some new idea or some old bad one.”

There was another long pause.  Mark refocused on the painting.

“It is a terrible idea isn’t it?” Mark said.

“For us, yes,” Samuel said.  “Let’s let someone make that mistake.  Then we’ll gladly welcome their customers as our own, and voila, income.”

“And then a new coffee mug for Sam,” Mark said with a big grin, walking backwards away toward the front door.

“Why don’t you do something useful for a change and go greet Ruth,” Samuel snapped back at him.  “It’s almost eight.”

“You got it!” Mark said.  “You’re the boss.”


Did you know that God encourages surrounding yourself with wise advisors like Samuel?

Do you look for potential trusted advisors when you hire? 


3 thoughts on “Old George

  1. Pingback: The breakthrough « Joel Fortner's blog

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