The Professor

This is by Daniel Lee Quin.

George Smyth was the dean at Midwestern University. One day he was asked to give a talk to the new staff and teachers at MU. After a long while he decided on a seminar on Louis Dellingtom Quincy, a distinguished Professor of Economics that put MU on the map.

Every year in January, economists came from all over the world to hear his discussions of how the business world looks for the new year. They hung on every word and his forecasts were top news in all the financial papers.

Now Dean Smyth’s lecture was not about professor Quincy, but about a single accident which caused his downfall. It was also about teaching methods and — most of all the fate of this man who was one day on top of the world and a helpless wreck the next. When the group had gathered, Dean Smyth told his story.

It was the tale of a man who had his way with words and the terms of economics. Quincy had one of those deep voices that instills trust in his words. But it was also the saga of a man who was proud. He had some human failings. Professor Quincy loved fast cars! Every year he bought the most powerful car he could buy. He drove like the wind on the back roads of the county and this made him feel alive!

He always got a good deal on his automobiles because the manufacturers knew that if he bought their model, the word would get out to the business world and their stock would go steadily up.

Remember that I said that he was vain? Well, he liked all the best of things, and when a leading Swiss make of fine watches asked his permission to bring out a new model, the Quincy – – he leapt at the opportunity. When the first watch left the factory, the manufacturer made a fuss about presenting it to the professor. And, like the cars, as soon as this information hit the Wall Street Journal, the company’s stock hit the roof!

The next day, a beautiful day in early June, the professor took a ride out in the country, with the temperature low enough that he could ride with his window wide open. Riding there, with the wind in his gray hair and the sun glinting off of his new watch, that was surely as close to Heaven that one could get on Earth.

Up ahead, there was an old tractor lumbering along the narrow lane. Professor Quincy hit the horn and the farmer pulled over as far as he could on the left shoulder and, waving a silent “thank you,” Quincy whizzed by in a cloud of dust.

It may be that the gods looked down and felt that this gray old man was too cocky. It also could have been that the professor’s eyes we showing their age. But, no matter what it was, Quincy’s left arm was caught on a spike on the tractor and was ripped right off!

And that was the end of the wonderful career of Economics Professor Louis Dellington Quincy.

But, wait! I didn’t mean to imply that Quincy died in that accident. It was much worse! He lived on for many years, but without the glory of his professorship. That, like his arm, was gone for good.

After he left the hospital and recuperated, he went back to his lectures, but they were flat and without the insight and the deep wisdom of his earlier years.

You see, his most powerful arguments were gone, because he could no longer use the most important lecture tool that all economists take for granted — he could no longer balance his statements with, “but on the other hand…”

And, oh yes! He lost his watch, too.

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