By John Pierce

One distinct memory from my entry into home ownership in the early ‘80s is of visiting a building supply company in the Atlanta suburbs. There would be two guys in golf shirts sitting on stools behind a center counter.

Because they catered to professional contractors — or simply liked being condescending toward those who knew less about building materials — they would show little interest in helping me.

My opening words would be something like: “I’m looking for some plywood to build…”

With a smirk on his face, one of the salesmen would interrupt: “You want A/C, A/BB, CDX…?”

Shortly thereafter Home Depot opened nearby and I was free to dig through the big orange store, ask questions and dream up one home improvement project after another. I could probably buy a nice vacation home today with the money that I’ve spent at Home Depot and its competitor Lowe’s over the past nearly 30 years.

Also, I found great satisfaction in driving by the out-of-business building supply company that didn’t treat do-it-yourselfers with respect. The proverb “Pride goes before destruction” (or “the fall”) rang true again.

Nothing seems to temper our pride like a keen knowledge that we are falling — or have the potential to fall.

For example, I’ve noticed the customer service attitude at the post office has improved recently — now that major cuts are becoming a reality. (And, no, I don’t need any more stamps today, thanks.)

This old lesson from Proverbs 16:18 is being harshly relearned in other areas as well that are impacted by a weakened economy. Many “very successful people” are not as successful as they once were — although they have the same skills and work habits.

It can be humbling when economic and technological changes impact so many lives. The loss of jobs and company slowdowns create anxiety and uncertainty. Many families face challenges that were never anticipated.

In the midst of all these perplexities there is that timeless lesson for days of both struggle and success: Always treat others with respect, count gains as blessings and don’t overestimate ourselves when things are going well.



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