The Most Important Question of the Test

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During my last year in college, our philosophy professor gave us a test. Thirty minutes later, I had finished all questions except one, the last one. This question was totally unexpected. “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”

Was this some kind of joke? I had seen the cleaning lady many times. She was tall, with dark hair, in her fifties. I had even smiled at her once or twice. But I didn’t know her name. Why should I know her name? I left the question blank and handed in my paper.

One student asked the professor if this question would affect our test grade. “Absolutely,” he replied.

And then he explained to us the reason why this question was so important.

“In your careers and life, you will meet many people. Each one of them is significant. You can smile at them and say “hello.” Show some interest and ask them their name, who they are, their story. You may learn much more than you think.”

I have never forgotten those words. I also learned that the lady’s name was Rose.

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