John McCaslin

A Fannie Mae senior vice president wrote the following memo, obtained and confirmed for authenticity by Inside the Beltway, to her communications and marketing division less than three weeks before the U.S. government stepped in with its unprecedented financial bailout of the mortgage giant to save it from collapse. The very last sentence speaks for itself:

"Team: It was nice to see many of you during my walk around yesterday. I greatly appreciate everyone's hard work!!! Like [Fannie Mae CEO] Dan Mudd said in his weekly message, 'it is difficult to face questions about Fannie Mae and unravel the facts of our situation from some of the claims that circulate.'

"But let's stay focused on the facts and keep doing the important work we need to do every day. Which leads me to the below anecdote. I know that I have shared it with many of you a few times over the years. But it still rings very true for me — it gets me thinking about how I try to deal with life's challenges. I thought I'd share it with you again as we all navigate these choppy waters and deal with all of our daily pressures. Here's to being a coffee bean! …

"P.S. I plan to hold Open Door Time this week on Thursday 8/21 from 3 to 5. And please do not forget about our Divisional Social tomorrow from 4 to 6 in the EMR …

"'A Carrot, An Egg, and a Cup of Coffee.' You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again. A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

"Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word. In about 20 minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

"Turning to her daughter, she asked, 'Tell me, what do you see?'

"'Carrots, eggs, and coffee,' she replied. Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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