The Heirloom

A certain man owned a bicycle repair shop in a busy city. Business was good because many people in his tropical country couldn’t afford automobiles, so if they had their own vehicles at all, they were bikes. At the same time, expenses were plentiful, limiting his prosperity—he just made his way in life a day at a time like pretty much everyone else.

That said, this man had one thing that made him feel rich: a small, golden statue of an ancient king that had been handed down in his family from father to son for generations stretching across several centuries. He kept it locked in a cabinet in the apartment over his shop where he lived.

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The Day Laborer

Early each morning, Georg walked to the hardware store and stood on the far side of the parking lot with other potential workers, waiting for a foreman or contractor to hire him for a day’s work and pay. He had made his living this way for years, scraping by as he provided for his family.

Then one morning, he was hired by Mr. Roth.

That didn’t seem extraordinary at first. Mr. Roth had a pleasant manner, and he seemed genuinely kind and happy, but all Georg really cared about was getting a day’s work done and taking the money home to his wife so she could use it to buy the groceries they needed. Mr. Roth led Georg and a couple other men on the drive to a property he owned, where they spent the day clearing rocks and weeds from a large area. Mr. Roth paid Georg and the others at sunset, and as the job wasn’t finished, he said he would be looking for workers again the next day.

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Uncle Nathaniel’s Promise

Most people Susanna knew had several uncles and aunts. But not Susanna herself. She had one uncle because Nathaniel was her mom’s only brother, and her dad was an only child.

Nathaniel had kids of his own, but he seemed to realize that with Susanna having no sisters or brothers, she felt lonely sometimes. He and Aunt Ellen brought the cousins over to play on a regular basis. He could have left it at that, but Uncle Nathaniel asked her how she was doing, how she was coping in Portuguese class with that cranky teacher, how her collection of plush unicorns was coming along. He even remembered the names of the unicorns.

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The Former Friend

Angela, a mid-level manager in a government office, attended a professional management conference on the other side of the country to sharpen her skills. While waiting for the opening session to begin, she struck up a friendship with a woman ten years her senior by the name of Catharina.

The two women spent most of the conference together. Catharina expressed interest in most of the same topics and sessions as Angela did. They met up for lunch and dinner and came to know a lot about each other—what cities they lived in, their careers up to that point, their personal and family circumstances. It had been a long time since Angela felt like she had a close friend, and it seemed Catharina was someone she could trust.

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The Man from the Hill

A prodigious young entrepreneur, though from affluent circumstances, set out on his own and created a company from scratch. This startup went from modest beginnings to a multibillion-dollar venture within a matter of a few years. Not content to use his quickly growing means for his own benefit, he invested in his employees’ development, made community-building partnerships, and donated cash to good causes. In particular, he became interested in and then driven to end homelessness in the city where he lived and his company’s headquarters were located.

At the height of his success, he sold his company and retired to a beautiful mansion in an upscale neighborhood situated on the hills overlooking the city.

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