One afternoon Michael is walking downtown in the main street when he happens to run into his old high school friend, Jimmy, a little ways up ahead. “Jimmy, Jimmy, how are you mate?” he greets his old high school friend after getting his attention.

“Hey hello Michael, long time no see. Well, actually I’m not doing so good at the moment,” says Jimmy.

“Oh why, what happened then?” Michael queries.

“Well,” Jimmy says, “I just went bankrupt after 20 years of business and I don’t have enough money to pay the bills and feed my family. I really don’t know what I’m going to do now.”

“Well, of course it could have been much worse,” Michael replies calmly. “Could have been much worse.”

A few weeks or so later, Michael encounters Jimmy again, in a grocery store. “Hey Jimmy, And how are things now with you?” he asks.

“It’s only getting worse!” says Jimmy. “Our house burned down last week and we haven’t got a place to stay.”

“Well Jimmy, it could have been much worse,” says Michael, again with total aplomb, and goes about his business.

Another month later, Michael runs into Jimmy for the third time. “Well, how is it going now Jimmy?” he inquires friendly.

“Oh Michael!” says Jimmy. “Things are just getting worse and worse. It’s really one terrible thing after another! Now my wife has left me and took the kids with her!”

Michael just nods his head a bit and gives his usual optimistic-seeming little smile, followed by his usual words: “Well, Jimmy it could’ve been much worse.”

This time, Jimmy grabs Michael by his arm before he can leave again. “Now wait a minute you!” he says. “I’m not gonna let get away with it so easy this time. In the past few months we’ve run into one another a few times now, and every time I’ve told you about the latest disaster that happened in my life. But every time you say the same thing: ‘It could have been much worse Jimmy.’ So this time, for God’s sake, Michael, I want you to explain to me: how in God’s name could it have been any worse than it is?”

Michael just looks at Jimmy with that same optimistic-seeming little smile. “Well Jimmy, it could have been much much worse,” he says. “It could have happened to me.”

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