The Pillow Test (Bill and Charley on the Railroad)
Once upon a time, it was a hot August day in a railroad yard outside Albuquerque, New Mexico, and there was a crew of eight men who work on the rails with their pick axes and shovels. Seven in the men were in their twenties, and then there was Charley who was in his sixties.
They were all working hard and sweating up a storm, and right before noon, a limousine drove up, and everybody knew who it was. It was Bill McClanahan, the president of the railroad company. He stuck his head out of the window and was watching the work crew, and he shouted, “Hey Charley! Is that you?” Charley shouted back, “Sure is, Bill!” Bill said, “Hey Charley, come over here! I’ll take you out to lunch.”
So, Charley was proud to be singled out by the president. He tidied himself up a little bit, and he hurried off to the limo, and he got in and drove off, and the other guys were just standing their stunned. They were dumbfounded.
After lunch, the limo brought Charley back, and when he returned the other guys on the crew were just full of questions, “How do you know Mr. McClanahan? How do you know the president of the company?” Well, Charley proudly boated that he and Bill McClanahan knew each other for years. Charley said, “As a matter of fact, Bill and I started working for this very same company on the very same day at the very same job for this very same pay over 25 years ago.
So, the guys let that sink in. One of the wise guys said, “Wait a second Charley. Let me get this right. You and McClanahan started working for this railroad company on the same day on the same job for the same pay over 25 years ago,” and Charley said, “You’ve got it right.”
The wise guy smirked and said, “Well, if that’s true, how come he’s the president of the company and you’re still out here sweating and slaving with us?” You could see that this question took the wind out of Charley’s sails. He hung his head and he stammered, “Well, I’ve been asking myself the same question for a long time, and a few years ago, I finally figured it out. You see 25 years ago, I started working for minimum wage, but Bill started working for the company. Twenty-five years ago, I was looking for something to do, but Bill was looking to really do something. Twenty-five years ago, I was looking for job, but Bill was looking for a career.”
You see way back when, when they both started, Bill and Charley started the same job. They started the same pay. They started on the same day. The big difference was that Charley was in the job, and Bill was into the job.
So, here’s my question for you. Which one are you going to be? Are you going to be a Bill or a Charley? If you want to have success in college, we’ll talk about college now, you need to be a Bill not a Charley. Don’t do the minimum; do the maximum. Don’t just look for something to do; do something. Don’t just enroll; be involved. Don’t just be in school; be into school.
Every day you take a test. It’s called the pillow test. When you put your head on the pillow at night, do you look back on the day and say, “I’m glad I did” or “I wish I had”?
See, Charley would put his head on the pillow and said, “I wish I had done that,” and Bill said, “I’m glad I did.” If you’re Charley, you’ll regretfully look back on your career and say, “I wish I had, I wish I had, I wish I had,” but, if you’re Bill, you’ll look back at that moment of decision in your life, and say, “I’m glad I did.”