Sam Rayburn was Speaker of the House longer than any other man in our history. His character is revealed in the story of his friend, whose teenage daughter suddenly died one night. Early the next morning, the friend heard a knock on his door. When he opened the door, Mr. Rayburn, the most powerful man in Congress, was standing there. He said he’d come by to see what he could do to help in his friend’s time of need.
The father said, “I don’t know of anything you can do.”
Rayburn replied, “Have you had coffee yet, today?”
His friend said he had not taken time for breakfast, in the midst of his enormous grief. So the Speaker made him some coffee. Just then, his friend remembered where Rayburn was supposed to be that morning. “Aren’t you supposed to be having breakfast at the White House with President Kennedy this morning?”
Rayburn responded, “Well, I was. But I called the President and told him I had a friend in trouble, so I couldn’t come.”
Sometimes, all your friend needs is a cup of coffee. The President of the United States can wait.