"If a Child Washed His Hands..."

Education & Training

Child Washing Hands

Over coffee this morning, I was reading the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.  As I enjoyed my Traverse City Cherry dark roast, I came across the following quote in the book:

"If a child washed his hand, he could eat with kings."

What a marvelous proverb!  It's a simple adage, but the implications are far-reaching... It goes beyond mere dinner etiquette, of course.  Certainly, it's best to have clean hands in the presence of kings.  But even kings should wash their hands before sitting down to the dinner table.  Given the washing of hands as both a ritual and universal act, then, the quote promotes a sense of egalitarianism.

In a business context, I would put it this way: If I know my products and services, if I prepare for a meeting or presentation, and if I act ethically, I am just as deserving of business as anyone else in the industry.  If I am but a commercial business development officer for Stewart Title, as long as I "wash my hands," I am entitled to sit with CEO's, company presidents and corporate officers and enjoy a working relationship.  That African proverb, so elementary on its surface, is a very inspiring source of confidence.

I remind my kids to wash their hands before dinner all the time.  The next time I do so, I will reflect on what those words may entail.  In my house, however, it's not the king who rules- It's the queen!  :)

Comments (29)

Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Andrew- we can learn so much just by reading!  and, very astute of you to know the real and actual ruler of your house. 

May 15, 2013 03:13 AM
marti garaughty
garaughty.com - Montreal, QC
a highly caffeinated creative type...

garaughty, abstract art, graphic design, WordPress consultant

May 15, 2013 03:39 AM
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Goodafternoon Andrew. What a lovely and insightful pst this is. You are right...we could dine with kings and on so many levels this is true.

May 15, 2013 04:14 AM
Andrew Capelli
Troy, MI

Mike: Thank you- Have a great day as well!  :)

Rebecca: Thank you!  Yes, I know my place- It keeps the peace!  :)

Kathy: I agree- it's why reading is one of my favorite pasttimes.  And yes, it's good to know who's really in charge!  :)

Marti: Thank you!  Always an honor!  :)

Sheila: Thank you so much for the kind feedback!  :)

May 15, 2013 04:20 AM
Nancy Laswick
United Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ
Your REALTOR® For The Valley Of The Sun

Andrew, I love this proverb...  as young children we have a naive unrepressed courage that seems to weaken as we learn our "place". Congrats on another Feature!

May 15, 2013 05:13 AM
Andrew Capelli
Troy, MI

Thank you, Nancy, both for the feedback and the congrats!  :)

May 15, 2013 05:22 AM
Wayne Zuhl
Remax First Realty II - Cranford, NJ
The Last Name You'll Ever Need in Real Estate


Great post!  Awesome proverb.  I will use it next time I'm asked for a positive quote.


May 15, 2013 05:39 AM
Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

Preparation and presentation in a good sense will take you a long way in life Andrew. Great reminder with the washing of the hands...

May 15, 2013 06:08 AM
Tamra Lee Ulmer
Arizona Resource Realty - Payson, AZ
NRBA ~FORCE~ Over 1000 REO Assets SOLD!

Great Analogy and so inspiring! Thank You Andrew!

May 15, 2013 06:31 AM
Joetta Fort
The DiGiorgio Group - Arvada, CO
Independent Broker, Homes Denver to Boulder

Thank you - I will remember this proverb and your analogy the next time I feel intimidated by a 'king' or 'queen'.

May 15, 2013 08:27 AM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

I didn't know where you were going with the "Wash your hands" , so curiosity got me... I LOVE IT!

May 15, 2013 09:01 AM
Andrew Capelli
Troy, MI

Wayne & Jean Marie: Thank you- I'm glad you like it!

Gary: Agreed- Thanks for the feedback!

Tamra: You're welcome- Thank you for the kind words!

Joetta: Thank you, and no need to be intimidated!  :)

Sheri: Thanks- I'm glad you enjoyed it!  :)

May 15, 2013 09:40 AM
Joe Petrowsky
Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709 - Manchester, CT
Your Mortgage Consultant for Life

Very well said my friend! You are certainly deserving of all the business that comes your way. As we work in an honorable way, good things will happen.

May 15, 2013 10:50 AM
Karen Anne Stone
New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County - Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth Real Estate

Andrew:  A great story about a great proverb.  Very true.  But also, you seem like a very wise man... if for only one reason.  That reason would be the very last thing you said in your post... LOL.  It's the Queen who rules!

May 15, 2013 01:10 PM
Pamela Seley
West Coast Realty Division - Murrieta, CA
Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA

I think my favorite line in your post is: "Given the washing of hands as both a ritual and universal act, then, the quote promotes a sense of egalitarianism." Not all kings and subjects see it that way, of course. Thanks for your post today, loved it.

May 15, 2013 03:17 PM
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Andrew - That's an interesting way to look at things, and it makes sense.

May 15, 2013 04:29 PM
Andrew Capelli
Troy, MI

Joe: Thank you so very much!  :)

Karen Anne: My wife would agree with you!  :)

Pamela: You're welcome, and thank you for the feedback!

Christine: Old proverbs definitely can provide some interesting food for thought!

May 15, 2013 10:32 PM
Toni Weidman
Sailwinds Realty - Trinity, FL
20+ Years Selling Homes in New Port Richey, FL

And I'm sure the Queen reminds the children to do that too, Andrew. Those people back then knew all the good stuff.

May 16, 2013 04:28 AM
Cathy Criado
Criado Realty - San Antonio, TX
Making Real Estate Profitable

Andrew -

As always, a very purposeful well written blog jam packed with integrity.  Thanks for reminding us of our manners for food and business.

May 20, 2013 08:13 AM
Andrew Capelli
Troy, MI

Toni: Indeed she does!  :)

Cathy: Thank you so much for the kind feedback!  :)

May 20, 2013 11:18 PM