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In the mid-9th century in our country, anyone who had occasion to “eat his words” by humiliatingly recanting something would be said to “eat crow.” In the United Kingdom they “eat humble pie.” The “unpalatability” of crow seems clear so we’ll stick with pie!

“It’s Hard to Be Humble,” says the old country song by Mac Davis, “when you’re perfect in every way.” Very few people, however, actually think they’re perfect in every way, although my wife, Marty, says I’m one of those few. Nevertheless, it can be very hard to be humble, especially when we live in a society that encourages competition and individuality. Even in such a culture, however, humility is an important virtue. Overcoming pride and learning to be humble helps us develop as a person and enjoy richer relationships with others.

Benjamin Franklin said about pride, “Even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.”

It seems, therefore, many of us need a generous serving of “humble pie” now and then. Here’s a couple of examples where someone got their “just dessert!”

Don Shula, former football coach of the Miami Dolphins, was still the head coach when he, his wife and five children were vacationing in Maine. They spotted a movie theater in a small town on a rainy afternoon and decided to see whatever was playing. After they paid the admission, however, they noticed there were only six other people in the theater and the movie was not being shown. But spotting the Schula family the six people all stood and applauded, and one man rushed to shake Don’s hand.

“I’m kind of amazed,” said Don. “It’s somewhat dark in here and we’re a long way from Florida. How did you recognize me?”

“Mister, I don’t know you,” the man quipped. “All I know is the manager told us that unless five more people showed up they wouldn’t show the movie today.” Don’t you suppose Mr. Schula found himself “eating humble pie” instead of popcorn during the film?

My favorite “humble pie” story concerns a military general who had just moved into a new office on an Army base. While sitting at his new desk and admiring his spacious quarters, there was a knock at the open door. Seeing it was a young private, the general waved him into his office but signaled that he had to first use the telephone.

The general dialed a number and said, “Good morning, Mr. President. I just wanted you to know I’m finally settled in my new office so you can now reach me by telephone. I’m at your disposal for whatever you need!”

The general hung up the telephone, turned to the private and said, “Now young man, what can I do for you?”

The soldier said rather sheepishly, “Nothing, really, sir! I’m just here to hook up your telephone.”

Pass the pie!

Vince LaBarbera
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Vince LaBarbera

Vince is a Fort Wayne native. He earned a master of science degree in journalism and advertising from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. LaBarbera is retired but continues to enjoy freelance writing and serving the Radio Reading Service of the Allen County Public Library. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer