Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
(c) 2017 Haylee V
Once upon a time, a rich nobleman had two fine sons, whom he was grooming to take over the family business. The elder son proved to be a shrewd businessman, tough on his customers, but quick to make a profit, sometimes overcharging his customers for their needs or using otherwise shady tactics. Anything for a quick buck seemed to be his credo.
The younger son, however, lacked the business acumen of his older sibling, and often allowed clients leniency with their payments on their loans, and tried to work with them to help them get their loans repaid in a timely manner. He charged a small amount of interest, and sometimes would waive the fees entirely. Although loved by his customers, he often times barely managed to show a profit.
The dichotomy of his sons actions worried the nobleman greatly. How could he assure his business would remain after he retired, when neither son could decide how to properly run it?
The nobleman decided to test his sons, to see which method was the most profitable, and who would, ultimately, inherit the business. Dressing as a poor peasant, the nobleman first went to the elder brother for a loan.
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"What can you offer me as collateral on your loan?" the son asked.
"All I have is my hovel, my farm, and a cow, Sire," stated the disguised nobleman.
"And how big is the farm? How much grain can you harvest?"
"The farm is small, my Lord -- only two acres -- but it can produce about 30 bushels per harvest, in a good year."
"And how big is the hovel?"
"It has three rooms, Sire -- the sleeping chamber, the cooking chamber, and the bathing chamber."
"And how much milk does the cow give?"
"She gives 6 gallons a day, Sire. Two gallons each milking."
"So, if I calculate correctly, your house is worth about three thousand crowns, your harvest worth 300, and you can get about 3 crowns a day from milk. That's not very much to work with. If you're willing to sign it ALL over to the bank, I will loan you 500 crowns, payable in one year's time, with 50 crowns in interest. That's the best I can do."
"So be it," he said.
As he left, he overheard a customer crying.
"I was just two days late with a payment -- my last. My wife got sick and I lost her. Now, the bank is taking everything else. I have nothing now, and no reason to live. How can a man be so cruel and heartless? He would not bend in the slightest..."
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The nobleman then went to the younger brother. Same story, same assets.
"How much can you AFFORD to put up for collateral," the son asked.
"I need a gallon of milk and a bushel of wheat to make ends meet, Sire."
"I will give you a 1,000 crown loan. Will you be able to pay me 25 crowns a month for 42 months?"
"I can, Sire."
As the nobleman was leaving this time, however, he overheard an overjoyed customer tell his friend, "I don't know what I'd do without this bank. He worked with me, and even forgave the fact I was late. He said he trusted me, and to just make a payment when things got better. Yep, this is my THIRD loan with the bank, but the first time I've ever had a problem repaying my debt. He was so kind to me, that I hope I can return his favor some day."
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The nobleman took these words to heart. The next day, he called his sons into his inner chamber.
"I have seen how you each do business, and have made a decision."
"But when did you come in, Father?" they questioned. "For surely your presence wasn't announced."
"Aye, my sons. I hid my appearance. For I was the peasant you each greeted yesterday. I saw how you, John, took advantage of your customers, and lacked compassion, and how Eric tried to comfort his customers in their time of need. I'd rather have a customer who does repeat business, even if he should occasionally fall behind, than one who has nothing but evil things to say about my bank. Therefore, I'm giving the business over to Eric. Run it well, my son."
A man will only receive back as much as he's willing to give out.
As my father always said, "Treat a man well, and he'll always remember you. Treat him poorly, and he'll never forget you."
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