Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wednesday Wisdom - Perfectly Well-Intended and Totally Useless


"Don't ascribe to evil what can be attributed to well-intentioned stupidity."
James A. Owen

Orlando International Airport can be confusing, especially on busy days or when international flights arrive. For security reasons beyond me, arriving international passengers who have already cleared customs must still be cordoned off from domestic passengers. TSA undergoes unbelievable gyrations to effect this separation, and in the process they create a bewildering maze that can baffle even well-seasoned travelers. 

I returned home to OIA on a recent Sunday morning. The airport was jammed with theme-park and cruise-line tourists in the midst of their weekly shuffle: one batch coming in, another batch going out. International flights were still arriving, so that huge crowd was navigating the TSA labyrinth. In the midst of this congestion, I was approached by a Middle-Eastern gentleman asking in broken English for directions to "Terminal B, Level 2" where he was to meet his contact.
I had just been reading about the Good Samaritan in my daily scripture study, so I was eager to help him. I explained to my new acquaintance that "Terminal B" wasn't another building but only the south side of the main terminal building. We just needed to turn right when we exited the security area and walk a few dozen yards to get there. I was headed that way, I said, so he could follow me.
When we got to the escalators, I told him to go down one floor and he would be at "Terminal B, Level 2." He thanked me profusely and we parted. I rode the elevator down to the parking garage tunnel, feeling self-satisfied for my kindness to a total stranger. Not quite a "beaten and robbed and left to die on the side of the road" story like in the Bible, but nevertheless a small act of compassion toward a needy traveler.
It wasn't until I got to the parking garage that I realized I had turned the wrong way coming out of the TSA maze and I was in the "A" side of the terminal. I would have to go back up to Level 3 and across the building to find my car. But worse, I had left my new acquaintance in the wrong place. I raced back to help him but he was nowhere to be found. I hope he eventually found his contact. But to my chagrin, my well-intended act of service turned out to be totally useless.
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There's a lesson here for all of us. Be careful who you hire or accept help from. Good intentions matter, but even the best of intentions cannot overcome ignorance, incompetence, or faulty assumptions. Laudable motives are great, but only when the person is also capable and well-informed. Whether we're performing acts of service or hiring professional assistance, we must look beyond good intentions.  

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Scott Farnsworth is an Attorney at Law and a Certified Financial Planner. He is the Founder and President of two companies: SunBridge, Inc. - An international advisory group for financial advisors and estate planning attorneys and Personal Asset Advisors - a Central Florida based retirement planning group. He is an expert on Social Security Maximization and Tax-Free Retirement. Feel free to email Scott at to help you with your needs.  

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