A Zillionaire Life
“It’s a great day for science!” said Bob Hayes, as he bustled his students into the classroom at Millikan Middle School. For 39 years, that was his standard morning greeting.
Folks who knew him said his was always the cheeriest voice in the room. Whenever a new teacher or substitute started work, he was the one greeting them at the door of the teachers lounge. Whenever someone needed help, he was the first in line to offer assistance. He treated everyone as though he was the host of the party and they were honored guests.
Bob lived down the street from my sister, Carole, and bonded with her 9-year-old son, Nick. Bob never passed up the opportunity to teach Nick something; about the lizard Nick was holding, their German Shepherd dog, or whatever came to his teacher’s mind when he jogged by. But one day he was jogging and collapsed. He never got up again.
The school hallways were silent; no more “it’s a great day for science” shouts rang there. As the word of his passing spread, the condolences poured in to the family. “Mr. Hayes died?” one woman asked. “Oh, no. He’s the reason I became a nurse.” The day of his memorial service, nearly five hundred people came to pay their last respects. People stood one by one and told how Mr. Hayes had shaped their lives: “He’s the reason I became a teacher.” “He’s the reason I stayed in school.” “He’s the reason I got into college.” “He’s the reason…” “He’s the reason…” For three hours, people shared their stories of this beautiful man, of his kindness and goodwill.
One story stood out from the rest. His son Bobby told how he noticed his dad took his change out of his pocket every night and put it on his dresser. One day, he saw that amongst the pennies and the quarters lay a solitary gold coin. It had a Boy Scout emblem engraved on one side, and on the other it said something like, “Put me in your left pocket in the morning, then move me to your right pocket when you’ve done your good deed for the day”. From the testimony given at the memorial service, it seems clear he didn’t stop at just one. Good deeds became his habit. Good deeds became who he was.
I’ve heard that in Buddhism, it isn’t necessary to try to change the world—just look forty houses to your left and forty houses to your right, and try to help those people. If everyone did just that, the world would be a peaceful place. If everyone started the day with “It’s a great day for science” or “It’s a great day for bookkeeping” or teaching or ballet or music or learning or whatever you have to do, the world would be brighter place.
The world is a little dimmer, now that Bob Hayes has left it. But his mourners left the memorial service uplifted and inspired instead of despondent. They had borne witness to a life well-lived, and been moved. Perhaps some of them will get a little gold coin and put it in their left pocket each morning, and move it to their right somewhere before the end of each day.
I don’t know what religion Bob was. I don’t know by what name he called God. But whatever it was, my guess is that God welcomed him. I’m sure Bob Hayes was one of “His People.”
Please feel free to copy this article and use it wherever you like. Just include the following “author box” for attribution:
Chellie Campbell is the creator of the Financial Stress Reduction® Workshops, and author of The Wealthy Spirit, Zero to Zillionaire, and From Worry to Wealthy. She has been prominently quoted as a financial expert in the Los Angeles Times, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Family Circle, Woman’s World and more than 50 popular books. She can be reached at Chellie@chellie.com