Lecturer Charles Hobbs sometimes tells about a woman who lived in
London over a century ago. She saved what little money she could
working as a scullery maid and used it one evening to hear a great
speaker of her day. His speech moved her deeply and she waited to
visit with him afterward. “How fine it must be to have had the
opportunities you have had in life,” she said.
“My dear lady,” he replied, “have you never received an opportunity?”
“Not me. I have never had a chance,” she said.
“What do you do?” the speaker asked.
She answered, “I peel onions and potatoes in my sister’s boarding
“How long have you been doing this?” he pursued.
“Fifteen miserable years!”
“And where do you sit?” he continued.
“Why, on the bottom step in the kitchen.” She looked puzzled.
“And where do you put your feet?”
“On the floor,” she answered, more puzzled.
“What is the floor?”
“It is glazed brick.”
Then he said, “My dear lady, I will give you an assignment today. I
want you to write me a letter about the brick.”
Against her protests about being a poor writer, he made her promise to
complete the assignment.
The next day, as she sat down to peel onions, she gazed at the brick
floor. That evening she pulled one loose, took it to a brick factory
and asked the owner to explain to her how bricks were made.
Still not satisfied, she went to a library and found a book on bricks.
She learned that 120 different kinds of brick and tile were being
produced in England at the time. She discovered how clay beds, which
existed for millions of years, were formed. Her research captivated
her imagination and she spent every spare moment learning more. She
returned to the library night after night and this woman, who never
had a chance, gradually began to climb the steps of knowledge.
After months of study, she set out to write her letter as promised.
She sent a 36-page document about the brick in her kitchen and, to her
surprise, she received a letter back. Enclosed was payment for her
research. He had published her letter! And along with the money came a
new assignment – this time he asked her to write about what she found
underneath the brick.
For the first time in her life she could hardly wait to get back to
the kitchen! She pulled up the brick and there was an ant. She held it
in her hand and examined it.
That evening, she hurried back to the library to study ants. She
learned that there were hundreds of different kinds of ants. Some were
so small they could stand on the head of a pin; while others were so
large one could feel the weight of them in one’s hand. She started her
own ant colony and examined ants underneath a lens.
Several months later she wrote her findings in a 350-page “letter.”
It, too, was eventually published. She soon quit her kitchen job to
take up writing.
Before she died, she had traveled to the lands of her dreams and had
experienced more than she ever imagined possible! This is the woman
who had never had a chance.
Some people wait for opportunity to come knocking. Here is a person
who sought it out, proving again that we can be more than victims of
If given a chance, will you take it? If given no chance, can you make
Shared by Priya Deelchand