Sigmund Wollman's Reality Test

Sigmund Wollman's Reality Test

This is a discussion on Sigmund Wollman's Reality Test within the Bob & Terry's Place forums, part of the The Back Porch category; First came across this in Reader's Digest in the early 90s. Has been on my work bulletin board ever since. A lot of truth here. ...

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Thread: Sigmund Wollman's Reality Test

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array scottync's Avatar
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    Sigmund Wollman's Reality Test

    First came across this in Reader's Digest in the early 90s. Has been on my work bulletin board ever since. A lot of truth here.


    "It was the summer of 1959. At a resort inn in the Sierra Nevada of Northern California, I had a job that combined being the night desk clerk in the lodge and helping with the horse-wrangling at the stables. The owner-manager was Swiss, with European notions about conditions of employment. He and I did not get along. I thought he was a fascist who wanted peasant employees who knew their place. I was 22, just out of college, and pretty free with my opinions.

    One week the employees had been served the same thing for lunch every single day. Two wieners, a mound of sauerkraut and stale rolls. To compound insult with injury, the cost of the meals was deducted from our paychecks. I was outraged.

    On Friday night of that awful week, I was at my desk job around 11 p.m., and the night auditor had just come on duty. I went into the kitchen and saw a note to the chef to the effect that wieners and sauerkraut were on the employee menu for two more days.

    That tore it. For lack of any better audience, I unloaded on the night auditor, Sigmund Wollman.
    I declared that I had had it up to here, that I was going to get a plate of wieners and sauerkraut and wake up the owner and throw it at him. Nobody was going to make me eat wieners and sauerkraut for a whole week and make me pay for it and this was un-American and I didn't like wieners and sauerkraut enough to eat them one day for God's sake and the whole hotel stunk and I was packing my bags for Montana where they never even heard of wieners and sauerkraut and wouldn't feed that stuff to pigs. Something like that.

    I raved in this way for 20 minutes. My monologue was delivered at the top of my lungs, punctuated by blows on the front desk with a fly swatter, the kicking of chairs and much profanity.

    As I pitched my fit, Sigmund Wollman sat quietly on his stool, watching me with sorrowful eyes. Put a bloodhound in a suit and tie and you have Sigmund Wollman. He had a good reason to look sorrowful. Survivor of Auschwitz. Three years. German Jew. Thin, coughed a lot. He liked being alone at the night job. It gave him intellectual space, peace and quiet, and, even more, he could go into the kitchen and have a snack whenever he wanted to - all the wieners and sauerkraut he wished. To him, a feast. More than that, there was nobody around to tell him what to do. In Auschwitz he had dreamed of such a time. The only person he saw at work was me, the nightly disturber of his dreams. Our shifts overlapped an hour. And here I was, a one-man war party at full cry.

    "Lissen, Fulchum. Lissen me, lissen me. You know what's wrong with you? It's not wieners and 'kraut and it's not the boss and it's not the chef and it's not the job."

    "So what's wrong with me?"

    "Fulchum, you think you know everything, but you don't know the difference between and inconvenience and a problem. If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire - then you got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy.

    "Learn to separate the inconveniences from the real problems. You will live longer. And will not annoy people like me so much. Good night."

    In a gesture combining dismissal and blessing, he waved me off to bed.

    Seldom in my life have I been hit between the eyes so hard with truth. There in that late-night darkness of a Sierra Nevada inn, Sigmund Wollman simultaneously kicked my butt and opened a window in my mind.

    For 30 years now, in times of stress and strain, when something has me backed against the wall and I'm ready to do something really stupid with my anger, a sorrowful face appears in my mind and asks, "Fulchum. Problem or inconvenience?"

    I think of this as the Wollman Test of Reality. Life is lumpy. And a lump in the oatmeal, and lump in the throat, and a lump in the breast are not the same lump. One should learn the difference. Good night, Sig."

    -Robert Fulghum

    Sigmund Wollman's Reality Test by Robert Fulghum--Inspirational articles from Living Life Fully
    "The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms." - Sam Adams

  2. #2
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    That is a reality check. I hope people who read it will get it. Maybe not in this world of privilege. Those who have been deprived will get it.

    I just posted in another thread about emergency canned good that we ate ten to fifteen year old C-Rations in Nam. They were awful, but better than nothing. We would have been grateful to have thenhot dogs and sauerkraut meals the writer spoke of instead even for days and days. Life is what you make it.
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    Ex Member Array CG11's Avatar
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    I think we all have had those moments that literally changed our lives. It's wonderful that you were receptive enough to learn the wisdom offered. Sometimes I did, sometimes I did not. The did nots are as well remembered as the didss for me. Thanks for the story, nscottync, I enjoyed the read and the remembering of things long past.
    scottync, msgt/ret and OldChap like this.

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    VIP Member Array Hoganbeg's Avatar
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    Indeed, I know that I have been similarly smacked in the face with Truth with a capital T from someone who refused to put up with my nonsense.

    These stories remind me of how vital it is to reassess from time to time.
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    ...You will understand everything immediately, when you yourself – "hands behind the back" – toddle into our Archipelago. ---Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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    I think the same whenever I endure a poster's screed about the death of quality and American workmanship when he finds a 0.5 mm nick in the blueing underneath the grip of his new baby.
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    -PEF, Refugee from the Island of Misfit Toys

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    Thanks for posting that story Scotty.....wonderful read....
    OldChap, PhaedrusIV and scottync like this.
    "Once that bell rings, you're on your own. It's just you and the other guy.” - Joe Lewis

    “I’m not obsessive about cleaning my guns. I like them like my martinis and my women....a ‘little’ dirty.....”

    Member: GOA, SAF, ISAA

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    Senior Member Array OneGunTX's Avatar
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    I got a lot more perspective on life when I was diagnosed with a cancer that is incurable, but can be kept at bay with constant treatments. Don't sweat the small stuff.
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    VIP Member Array OldChap's Avatar
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    A long time ago a good friend told me, "Always remember this life is but a journey. It isn't a destination. There is always struggle and heartache in the journey. There is rest in the destination."

    There is more, but alas, forum rules.
    scottync and nralifer4570 like this.
    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits."

    "What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms." - Thomas Jefferson

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    Quote Originally Posted by OldChap View Post
    A long time ago a good friend told me, "Always remember this life is but a journey. It isn't a destination. There is always struggle and heartache in the journey. There is rest in the destination."

    There is more, but alas, forum rules.
    Especially on this Easter morn as I write this response..
    OldChap likes this.

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