The rich man's "service"

There was a man who was exceedingly rich. He was actually an upstart who had accumulated his money in a very short space of time. He was extremely proud of his wealth and he always used to look for any opportunity to parade it in front of his neighbours. During the day he would act in a very arrogant manner, and at night he would remain awake making noise. He would open the drawers of his desk and then bang them closed deliberately. Or he would yell at his two dogs so that they would begin barking incessantly. Sometimes he would sing as loudly as possible. In every way, he tried to draw the attention of the villagers to himself so that they would constantly be reminded of his wealth.

His poor neighbours could not sleep. Every night the same thing would happen. The rich man would get the inspiration to make as much noise as possible. The whole day was not enough for him. At night also he had to prove that he was busy taking care of his house and all his financial affairs.

This went on, month after month and year after year. He made everybody’s life miserable, but his neighbours did not dare to raise any complaints. They were afraid that he would use his wealth to bring harm to them or to their families, so they remained silent.

One day a relative visited the wealthy man’s nearest neighbours. As usual, when evening set in, the rich man started his clanging and banging, opening and closing all the doors unnecessarily. His dogs were barking hysterically and he was singing tuneless songs at the top of his voice.

The visiting relative next door listened to the commotion in disbelief. He said, “Uncle, why do you allow this man to behave in such a way? What right does he have to disturb the whole neighbourhood?”

His uncle replied, “He is very, very rich, so we cannot silence him. He will not listen to our requests. We have to surrender to him.”

The relative was very smart. He told his uncle, “I am sure that from today he will surrender to you. I will make him surrender.”

The next morning, he went to the wealthy man and said, “I am a relative of your neighbour. I am just visiting for a few days. I have come here to express my gratitude to you on behalf of all your neighbours. How I wish I could have a person like you as my neighbour! We need someone like you in our village.”

“You need me?” said the rich man, in a surprised voice.

The relative continued, “Absolutely! Last night I heard you moving around and making noise. My uncle tells me that you do this every night. You have no idea how helpful this noise is! In other neighbourhoods, they have thefts and so on. But here it is completely safe because you are doing the work of ten guards. No other guard is needed. How selflessly and tirelessly you are performing this service for the sake of all your neighbours! They are so grateful to you because they can sleep in peace every night. Alas, in my vicinity we have no one like you who is prepared to do this kind of service on a regular basis!”

The rich man had a very mean streak. As soon as he heard what this young man had to say, he thought to himself: “O my God, I have been such a fool! Here I was, showing off every night how great I am and all the time I have been saving them the expense of hiring a night guard. Why should I do this kind of unpaid work for them? If they cannot afford to have a guard, is it my fault? Let them solve their own problems. I am not going to help them by making noise anymore!”