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The Power of One
by Jackie Cooper

Does the way people act toward you influence how you feel on any given day? I mean, can a good response from someone make your day brighter and a negative action cause your day to be gloomy?

It works that way for me. Any individual has the ability to set me off or lift me up.

For example, I went to the postoffice this morning. I took with me some one-sheets I had had printed with my picture and the titles of my books. I was sending these sheets to a bookstore in Sumter, South Carolina, where I will be doing a book signing later this month.

I knew from past experience that I was going to mail them in one of those tube like containers they have at the postoffice. I also knew there would be no address form on the tube so I had better print out my return address and the address of where I was sending it on a piece of paper before I got there.

Anyway, I arrived and got the tube, put the one-sheets inside it and moved to the counter. I asked if they had some broad clear tape to cover the address sheet I had prepared as well as to cover the ends of the tube. At previous times when I had sent the same things, the clerk had provided tape and made sure the ends were secure and the address too. So I didn't think I was asking for anything out of the ordinary. Boy, was I wrong!

"We don't have any tape to use for that unless you are sending it priority," I was told. Then the person waiting on me added that I should have taken care of all that before I came to the postoffice. When I explained I was buying the tube, she said then I also should have bought tape. I mean, it was as if I were asking for free stamps or something.

You know, the funny thing is that what angered me was not that I was asked to buy a piece of scotch tape, but how it was done. The clerk used a tone that said I was the dumbest human on the planet.

Or at least that is how it sounded to me.

I left the postoffice fuming. This confrontation put me in a mood that has lasted all day long. The "power of one" has worked again. One person caused my pretty good day to take a turn for the worse.

Another example of "the power of one" occurred when I went to Biloxi, Mississippi, last week. I was in the casino playing at my favorite video poker machine when I looked down and saw that my cell phone was missing. The carrier I fasten to my belt was still there but the cell phone was gone. I panicked. How do you cancel a cell phone and how many calls to the Orient can be made before that happens!

As I was fretting and fuming, I saw one of the people you call when you have a problem with a machine. I went over to her and asked where I should go to see if anyone had turned in a cell phone.

She responded by asking me what kind of cell phone I was talking about. I replied it was silver with one of those flip-up tops. She then asked the company who made it and I replied Verizon. She reached into her pocket and asked me if it looked like the one she was holding. I replied that it did, and she said, "Well, this must be yours."

She handed the phone over and it was mine! She grinned from ear to ear and I grinned from ear to ear. She said someone had turned it in about ten minutes prior to my coming over. I was amazed that someone was honest enough to turn it in and that I was lucky enough to ask the person to whom it had been given.

The honesty of that person made my day. Here was the "power of one."

What these two incidents brought home to me is that we are "the power of one" in a lot of peoples' lives. The way we treat others can affect how their day goes. I am going to try to make my power a power for good, because I know how it feels when the power is bad.


Jackie K. Cooper was born in South Carolina and now lives in Georgia. He is the married father of two sons and the proud grandparent of a boy and a girl.

He is familiar to people living in the middle Georgia area as the "entertainment man" since his entertainment reviews run in newspapers and are shown on television there. His short stories have also been used as commentary on Georgia Public Radio.

Cooper has lived an exceptionally interesting life. Portions of it were contained in his first book JOURNEY OF A GENTLE SOUTHERN MAN, and the journey continued in his second book titled CHANCES AND CHOICES.

JOURNEY OF A GENTLE SOUTHERN MAN and CHANCES AND CHOICES have been reprinted by Mercer University Press and are available at bookstores across the country. Mercer also published Jackie's new book HALFWAY HOME in October 2004.

To order any of these books, go to MUPRESS.ORG

Write Jackie Cooper at this e-mail address
and be sure to visit his excellent web site: jackiekcooper.com


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