My high school English teacher assigned the book., “How to Win Friends and Influence People” for the class to read. At the time I thought the book was corny and I didn’t pay much attention to it. The teacher told us to keep the book and read it from time to time and after we experience life, the book would make more sense and have more meaning. She was right. Over the years, I would read a bit and it surely did make more sense. I still do that to this day. Since then, I bought revised versions of the book.
One day about 15 years ago, I was browsing through the version that I had in high school and I found a reference to a book called, “Return to Religion.” I didn’t remember seeing that reference in the more recent versions of the book. I then checked the other versions that I had and the reference was not there. What makes this reference significant is that it said that this book could help you develop your personality. I always felt that I didn’t have a good personality, so, I wanted to read that book.
I looked in the local bookstores, but I couldn’t find it. I then checked out all the rare- book stores in the city without any luck. By then, it became a challenge to locate this book. The book was published in the 1940s by McMillan and Co. I even called the publisher. They had moved their offices to the west coast and had no record of the book. Now, I was determined to find this book!
At that time I didn’t have a computer, so I couldn’t do a search for the book. I did continue to look for it and I called every bookstore that I could find. Still no luck, until one fateful day. I stumbled across this small bookstore located off of a major thoroughfare. It is no longer there. There was only one car in the parking lot and it belonged to the clerk. I looked through the shelves and as usual, didn’t find the book. The clerk asked me what I was looking for and I told her. All of a sudden this man appeared. I didn’t remember seeing him in the store and he apparently didn’t have a car. He was grinning from ear-to-ear. He overheard our conversation and said, “I have that book.”
I thought, “Yeah right.”
To check him out, I questioned him about the author, and he knew that the author was Henry C. Link.
I told him that I have been looking everywhere for it. I asked if I could either buy or borrow the book from him. He said, “Give me your phone number and I will check with the man in charge of the organization that I belong to and I will call you.”
I was happy about that. My search was finally over and I would finally get to read this book and do something about my personality.
About a month later he called me. He asked if I was still interested in the book and I said yes. He said that he just wanted to double check and he would get back with me. Another month or so went by and then he called me back. This time the news was good. He told me that he could lend it to me, but I would have to promise to return it by a certain day. I did promise and he then gave me directions to his house.
I had no problem finding his home; directions were clear and I went right to it. He greeted me with a big smile. He got the book and reminded me about the promise. I reassured him that I would return the book by a certain date. As I walked off he said something strange, “You don’t get it , do you?”
Get what? No, I don’t get it.
He said, “You will.” All the while he was smiling. So, I left and couldn’t wait to begin reading the book.
I am normally a slow reader, but I zipped through this book in two sittings. To me, this book was absolutely amazing. It was as though this book was written just for me. Despite the title, it is not a religious book. The book changed my personality and my life. I was always sort of introverted. I was never one to make friends easily. Now I seek out people to make friends. This book really hit home. It may not mean much to others, but it did mean a lot to me.
When I finished the book, I called the guy and told him I was ready to return it. I had no problem finding his house; this was the second time that I had been there. He greeted me with the same smile and said, “It hit home, didn’t it?”
I told him that it really did. I thanked him and offered to buy the book, but he said that the guy in charge wouldn’t let him sell it. Who was this guy in charge? He did say that he thought he had another copy somewhere and the if he found it, he would send it to me at Christmas time. I thanked him and as I left, he again said, “You don’t get it, do you?”
Again, I replied, “Get what?”
Again he said, “You will.” Smiling the whole time, he said, “Goodbye and God bless.”
A couple of months later, I got a computer and learned that you can do searches for books, etc. I did a search on Amazon.com for the book and found it. They would ship it to me. A few weeks went by, then late one afternoon, the doorbell rang and it was UPS. They were delivering the book! I was elated to finally have the book in my possession. By the way, the day the book arrived was the 24th of December (Christmas Eve); very strange. (Remember what the guy told me about getting the book for Christmas?)
I waited a couple of days, then I wanted to call the guy to tell him that I had the book. I couldn’t find his number. I know I had written it down and I had called him before. Then, I decided to go to his house to tell him. I had driven there twice before and didn’t have a problem finding his house. This time I drove all around the area and I could not find it!! I was beside myself. Since that time, I drove around there several times and still couldn’t find his house.
I may never know why I couldn’t locate him, but one thing I do know is that the book changed my life. One thought is maybe he was an angel sent to help me. Was that my angel?