JT was hungry as he walked into the market. He found the largest market stall and approached the owner. “Pardon me sir, would you have a job for a willing worker? I don’t want much for pay, just some food.”
The merchant was looking askance at JT as he asked for a job, however when he got to the part about only wanting some food for pay, his eyes glinted and his face broke into a wide smile. “Why, certainly young man. You don’t steal anything from me, you’ll get plenty to eat when you are done.”
“May I please have a little now in advance? I am very hungry.” JT pleaded. The merchant scowled, picked through the basket of rolls, found one with a little bit of mold on it and passed it to JT, “here you go,” he said begrudgingly as he gave the roll to him.
“Here, come here, I have something for you to do.” He motioned for JT to come over by the back row of produce baskets. “I want you to examine all the baskets of fruits and vegetables. If you see any bad one, pick up the good ones and put the bad ones under them. That way the basket looks very good to the customer.” He grinned and winked at JT. “When you get them pretty, bring them out front.”
The merchant went back out to the front and began to yell, “Get your fresh fruits and vegetables! The best price and the freshest anywhere! “We have a special on bread too! Cheaper by the dozen!” He paced back and forth motioning for the customers to follow him to the front row of baskets.
JT looked at the basket of apples in front of him. There were four or five apples with brown spots on them. He picked one up and found a wormhole on the back, with a small worm partially sticking out of the apple. He moved away the top row of apples and discovered that the majority of the apples underneath had blemishes, bruises, or were outright rotten. He moved them around as the merchant had said and rearranged the apples. The ones on the top of the bushel basket looked perfect, red, and mouth-watering.
JT lugged the basket around to the front, just as the merchant had a customer by the arm. It was a very elderly woman who didn’t appear to see very well. “Here you go, a nice bushel of apples, brought out by my assistant. And, just for you, because I like you, I’m going to give you the whole bushel for a great price!”
JT winced as he saw the merchant deftly empty the apples into a burlap bag. Moving his hands quickly, he put the bad ones in the bottom of the bag, and at the same time redirecting the customers’ attention to some cucumbers in a small pile. “These will make some nice pickles, I’ll give you 2 free if you buy 5.” The lady walked over to look at these, as the merchant quickly emptied the bushel basket of apples.
She shook her head no, got out her purse, and merchant quickly added, “I have some nice dinner rolls brought to me by my baker friend just this morning.” She looked thoughtful and asked for a dozen.
The merchant motioned for JT to hand the lady the burlap bag of apples. Meanwhile, the merchant moved to his bag of rolls. JT saw him pull out some good ones and then added a few of the moldy ones at the bottom. He added, “I put in a baker’s dozen for you. A roll for free!”
She paid the merchant the money owed, and then pulled the bag of apples and the bag of bread away on a little cart behind him.
“See my boy that is how it’s done.” He grinned at JT, then went back front hawking his wares. JT felt embarrassed and bad about taking advantage of the elderly woman.
“I can’t work for you anymore. What you are doing is wrong, cheating customers just is not right.” JT said hesitantly. The merchant’s face got very red and he began to yell, “I am a merchant and have done this all my life. And YOU think you know better than I what I should do? Get out of here, before I call the sheriff.”
JT nodded and began to walk away. He had eaten the good parts of the roll the merchant had given him and could not give it back. He marched quickly off in the direction the old woman had taken. He just had to apologize to her and try to make it right.
After a few minutes he caught up to her, she was talking to the sheriff, who looked displeased as he inspected the woman’s’ purchases. “Mother, why did you buy these? Half the apples are rotten, and the bread! There must be 3 or 4 good rolls of the bunch!” Where did you buy these?” The woman shook her head, “I don’t remember, my memory is not very good anymore.”
JT walked up to the sheriff, and said in a meek voice, “I am sorry sir, it’s partly my fault.” The sheriff looked at him quizzically and replied, “How could you have anything to do with these things my mother bought at the market.” JT told him the story of his education at the merchant’s market. As JT told his story, the sheriff’s face got darker and darker.
“Do you remember where this merchant has his market stall?” JT nodded, and the sheriff took him by the shoulder with one hand and his mother with the other hand and they went back to show the merchant the error of his ways.
QOTD: This story illustrated how a person can take advantage of others through dishonest means. Have you ever had this happen to you? If you have sold something, have you taken advantage of the situation?
To read the introduction to this series please click HERE