A dying grandfather decides to teach his greedy grandson a life lesson and gets him a menial job at his factory instead of the million-dollar inheritance he was expecting.
Nick Hartcourt knew what he wanted. He wanted to be rich, and all he had to do was wait for his grandfather to die. Alex Hartcourt had started out as a poor man with a good idea, and he forged that idea into an empire.
Alex was now in his late seventies and suffered from a heart condition. Over the last six months, his condition had deteriorated, and the entire family was deeply distressed, but Nick couldn’t hide a certain excitement. Once the old man died, he’d have everything he wanted…
Alex planned to have his sons and his only grandson take over the company, and he had been taking Nick to the factory with him on Friday afternoons since he was old enough to walk on his own.
He’d pick Nick up in his mint-condition bright-red 1938 MG convertible and drive him to the factory where everyone would nod respectfully at Alex and smile at him. Nick loved the respect, the adulation. He was going to be that man, his grandfather told him so.
“One day, Nick,” his grandfather would tell him on their drive back home. “It will all be yours.”
“Even the car, Granpa?” asked Nick in his piping voice.
Alex would laugh. “Yes, Nick! Even the car!” And ten years later, when he wrote his will, he made sure he put it in. “My 1938 MG Roadster is for my grandson, Nick…”
Nick started dreaming about getting the car, the money, all that power, and respect… After a while, the idea that his grandfather had to die before he got any of those things stopped bothering him — and it showed.
His coldness hurt Nick’s father, James, his uncle Harlan, and Alex too. James was particularly shocked, and was ashamed to speak to him, especially after he heard Nick boasting to his friends: “Man, I’m going to be RICH! I won’t be kissing up to bosses like you losers!”
To teach a child values, a parent sometimes has to dole out some tough love.
James felt helpless, but Alex knew what to do. He called his grandson to his room where he lay on a hospital bed, his every heartbeat monitored by a machine. “Nick,” he said with no beating around the bush. “I’ve changed my will.”
“A parent and a grandparent’s job is to raise a decent human being, with good values. I failed you, Nick,” Alex said sadly. “You want everything, but you don’t know what it costs to get to where I am. You have no idea why people struggle, or how hard life can be, so I’m going to teach you so one day you can be a good boss.”
“What are you going to do, grandpa?” asked Nick with trepidation.
“I’ve added a codicil to my will,” Alex explained. “If you want your share of my inheritance, you will have to earn it. You have to work at my factory for a year as a packer and loader — that’s the lowest entry-level job.”
“No one will know who you are, not your supervisor, no one. If you get fired or quit the job before a year is out, you lose the money, the car, everything. If you stick it out, you get your legacy, everything you want. By then, you will have earned it.”
Nick was upset but even sick as he was, Alex had a will of iron and he was adamant. Nick would work, on his terms, or get nothing. When Alex passed away a few months later, Nick started working at the factory.
In truth, he hated it from the first moment. He hated the blue overalls he had to wear, he hated his supervisor, and he hated hauling packages and loading carts. He especially hated his co-worker, Patrick.
Patrick walked in every morning with a big grin on his face, and he whistled cheerfully as he worked. One day, Nick snapped. “Listen, idiot,” he said. “Why are you so stupidly happy? This is a minimum wage dead-end job! You are going to be doing this for the rest of your life, die poor and alone, so STOP WHISTLING!”
Patrick stopped whistling. “Yes,” he said in a calm voice. “I know all that, but you know what else I know? My grandfather is seventy-two and he’s never owned a car. I’m working to get him that car.
“You’re right, I’ll probably never get anywhere, but I have a job and I put food on the table for my mom and my baby sister. And you know something? When I die, I won’t be alone. I will be surrounded by my family whom I love. What about you?”
Nick was deeply ashamed of his outburst and started working harder, taking pride in what he did. He and Patrick ended up becoming friends, and after six months, his supervisor recommended him for a promotion.
At the end of the year, Nick’s dad told him he had kept the conditions of the codicil and that he could now take possession of the car and step into a high-level job in the company.
“No,” Nick said firmly, shaking his head. “I’m going to work my way up on my own merit. I’m up for my first promotion already. Grandpa Alex did it, and I can do it too.”
James was very proud of his son. “Your grandfather was a wise man, Nick,” he said, hugging him.
“I miss him, dad,” Nick said. “I wish he knew how much!”
“He does,” James said gently. “I believe that with all my heart.”
The next day, the other workers were stunned when they saw Nick driving in in a splendid vintage convertible, but the most astounded of them all was Patrick. Nick walked up to him and tossed him the keys. “Here,” he said. “This is for your grandfather.”
Patrick gasped. “I can’t take this!”
“Yes,” Nick said gently, “you can. Because you see, that’s the difference between us. You worked at this job to buy a car for your grandfather, while I worked at this job to take this car from my grandfather. My grandfather would have wanted me to do this.”
What can we learn from this story?
There is no money in this world that is worth more than the love of your family. Nick became so obsessed with money and possessions that he lost sight of what really matters.
To teach a child values, a parent sometimes has to dole out some tough love. Alex forced Nick to work as a laborer so he’d understand what life and money are really worth.
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