And now, This I Believe, a series of living philosophies presented in the hope they may help to strengthen and enrich your life. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Edmond A. Rieder is the general manager of the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. He was born in Paris, and educated in France and Switzerland. He came to the United States some 30 years ago and is a naturalized citizen. The journalists who covered the Japanese peace treaty conference will remember his interest in public relations, for the Palace provided the working press with a samovar of hot coffee night and day. Hear now a man who has made a success of hospitality, Edmond A. Rieder.
My business is that of hotel operation, one of the oldest businesses in the world. I think of it as running a very large household, providing basically shelter and food for the traveler. I was drawn to it because I like people, and it gave me the opportunity to meet very interesting men of many nationalities from the world--great and near-great, to the very simplest and unassuming. I owe, indeed, a great debt of gratitude to all of them for having made my life rich in human experience.
Observing the thousands of guests on the modern caravans arrive, and having available all such information as credit ratings, confidential inquiries--and even sometimes working in close cooperation with the police inspector or an FBI agent on a special assignment--is like having a front row seat in a
great play. A play where real life often unfolds with more unexpected dénouement than could be conceived by the most imaginative and skillful of playwrights.
The cast of characters ranges from the great lady, moving about with the unaffected grace and dignity of her social position, the suave gentleman, utterly at ease no matter what the situation, or the forcefulness of the business tycoon, flanked by an entourage of associates and secretaries; to the simpler but equally welcome guest, whose shyness of manner reveals that this is not his or her accustomed way of life.
There is the sweet old lady, writing a long letter to inform me that I forgot to charge her for the
last local telephone call--and please, find enclosed the money and excuse her for the terrible oversight--to the bad check artist or the fraud, preying on the more gullible and innocent of my guests. All this happens. But I believe that a great majority of all people are fundamentally good and that only misunderstanding and distrust sow the seed of trouble, which when coupled with fear, leads to so much misery.
My life has not always been smooth sailing--far from it. And I have known the pangs of fear and insecurity, which made me miserable following a time of relative success when I permitted myself to become all-absorbed in material values. At that time, I found solace in reorientation in my family,
where I learned anew the true meaning of love and respect and, above all, faith--faith in myself, and faith in all of us.
I had permitted myself to become negligent in the practices of my church, and by the reaffirming of my beliefs, I also found a happiness and sense of security I craved. At the same time, the honest intention of practicing the Golden Rule, in and out of the office, taught me a new approach to many perplexing problems of everyday life.
The feeling of having at least tried my best, as clumsily as it might be, proved to be a source of great personal satisfaction and reward. Public relations with patrons and guests, the community,
several hundred employees, and many labor unions, all improved with a more tolerant approach to the other man's problems or point of view.
So often, I discovered that the strongest dissensions came only from suspicion and lack of understanding of the facts involved, and could easily be overcome by sincere cooperation. I like people, and this I believe: There is much good in the world.
That was Edmond A. Rieder, who has been able to enjoy his love of drama and appreciation of people in his daily business, operating San Francisco's Palace Hotel.