washingtonpost.com
Editor's Query: Tell us about a time when you learned you weren't as smart as you'd thought

Sunday, January 23, 2011;

In November 1961, I was fresh out of college, in my first job in the District. I was thinking of Christmas presents for my parents; for some reason I thought of stocks. I was familiar with AT&T, so I looked in the Yellow Pages, found a stockbroker, called and was told that the cost of a share of AT&T stock was, "One thirty-three."

I set up an appointment. On the way, I thought that at "one thirty-three" a share, I could buy a lot of shares. I decided I would buy my parents 20 shares each.

A gentleman took me into his office. I told him I wanted 40 shares of AT&T stock. I had to sign a form, and then he said, "You owe five thousand, three hundred twenty dollars."

I felt my face turning red as a beet. I told the man that I had made a mistake and thought that one share of stock was $1.33! He looked sternly at me and said: "Well, you own this stock now. I will have to see if I can sell it."

While I squirmed in my chair, he looked at the stock market ticker, then told me that my stock sold. I apologized profusely. He smiled and said: "I have a daughter about your age. I think this has been a good lesson for you. But you are lucky that these odd-lot shares sold so quickly."

I drove back to work trying to think of something else for my parents!

Betty Beauchamp, Hyattsville

New query

Tell us about a time when you were able to "pay it forward."

If you have a 100 percent true story taken from your own experience concerning the above query, send it to queries@washpost.com or The Washington Post Magazine, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Include your daytime phone number. Recount your story in 250 words or fewer.

Post a Comment


Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

© 2011 The Washington Post Company