I have the privilege of living across the street from my sons’ yeshivah, so I get to spend a little quality time with my boys every morning—a few minutes, just to walk them down the block and cross them. I’m usually there and back in less than five minutes, in time to eat breakfast with my wife before she heads out to work.
One morning, after wishing them a great day and watching them into the building, it occurred to me that we had run out of milk. Instead of heading straight home, I went around the corner to the grocery store, adding an extra eight minutes to my usual trip.
Eight very crucial minutes, apparently. By the time I walked up the block, milk in tow, my wife’s car was not in the driveway. She’d already left. No problem—I reached into my pocket for the front door key.
I came up empty. My keys, I remembered, were lying on the kitchen table. Somewhat halfheartedly, I jiggled the doorknob, but it didn’t open. I was locked out.
What if my wife had just left and was around the corner? I called her cell phone.
The clock was ticking. I had to eat breakfast, and make it to yeshivah in time to give shiur. My keys were inside, and my wife wasn’t answering her phone. Every second took her further and further away, along with our spare keys.
There was nothing to do but wait for her to answer, I decided. I’d go to the shul on the corner and learn a little until she called back.
Halfway down the block, my phone rang. “Hi,” I said. “I hope you’re still in the neighborhood—I went to get milk after I dropped off the boys and forgot my keys.”
“I know,” my wife said calmly. “I saw them on the table. I left the door open for you.”
“What? I tried it. It was locked!”
“Try it again,” she advised. “I’ll wait on the phone, but I’m pretty sure it’s open.”
My wife, like most women, is always right, so I was quite looking forward to it being my turn this time. I had tried that doorknob, and it had been locked—of that I was sure. I walked back up the front path and turned the knob.
My wife, like most women, is always right. It was open.
“But it was locked!” I protested, as I opened the refrigerator to put the milk away at last.
“I’ll bet you didn’t turn it all the way the first time,” my wife said. “You were expecting it to be locked, so you didn’t try.”
She was right, of course.
Aha! How much effort will you invest if you believe yourself to be a lost cause? Make your self-fulfilling prophecy a good one.