The perfectionist

There was a landlord who had quite a few servants, a wife and three sons, but nobody could please him. No matter how his dear ones and servants would do something, even if it was absolutely perfect, he would find fault with them. Nobody could satisfy him in anything.

One day it happened that a young man came to his village and said to him, “My father is very sick, and your village has a very good doctor, so I have brought him all the way here. Now he will be staying at the doctor’s place. Once he is cured, my father and I will go back to our village. In the meantime, you are a landlord, and it is said that you are very kind, compassionate and hospitable. Would you please allow me to stay at your guest house?”

The landlord was pleased that this stranger was so unreservedly flattering him.

He said, “Yes, you can stay at my guest house, but I do not give anything free of charge. Although it is a guest house, I expect the guests to work on the premises at least for half an hour a day. If you agree to this condition, you can stay as long as your father remains in our village.”

The young man said, “Definitely. I will be quite happy to work for half an hour a day.”

So the landlord gave him a very minor job. It was very, very easy, and the young man did it. The landlord felt that since this guest was neither his servant nor his relative, he should not be strict with him. So he did not find fault with his work as he usually did with others. Somehow the young man pleased the landlord.

It happened that the landlord had to go to another village to do some business. It would take him at least two weeks to go settle his affairs and come back. So he said to the young man, “I shall be away for two weeks. I would like you to do me a big favour.”

The young man said, “Definitely I will do whatever you wish because you have been so kind to me.”

The landlord continued, “Here is a small house. It belongs to me. I do not like the colour of the walls at all. I want you to change the colour. I am giving you a box as a sample. The colour of this box and the colour of the walls should be exactly the same.”

“Easily I can do it,” said the young man confidently. Then he asked, “If I finish the job in one week instead of two, do I have to wait for you to return?”

The landlord thought, “This fellow is very sincere and I am not certain that I shall be able to come back in two weeks’ time.” He said, “All right, I trust you. You will do the job, and I will give you the money for the job before I go. Somehow I am very pleased with you, so I am giving you the money before you have done the job.”

Then the landlord left for the other village. In the meantime, the young man’s father had recovered and the time had come for them to leave the village. The young man did not want to waste two weeks painting the house, so he thought of an easy solution. The colour of the small box was red and the colour of the walls was yellow. What the young man did was buy a small quantity of yellow paint and paint the box yellow. The landlord did not say that the walls had to be exactly the same colour as the box. He only said that they should match. So the young man simply painted the box and, with the extra money that he had saved, he took his father home.

After two weeks the landlord returned. He was thrilled that the colour of the box and the walls was the same, so he began bragging to his wife about his excellent worker. He said, “At last I have found a man who could please me. See, the box and the walls are the same colour!”

His wife burst into laughter.

He said, “Why are you mocking me?”

She said, “You fool! Was the box that colour? Your box was red. See, he fooled you! He just changed the colour of the box to match the walls.”

The landlord became furious. “How dare that fellow fool me!” he said.

He went to the doctor’s house in search of the young man. The doctor said, “You are too late. The patient is cured. They have returned home.” Then the landlord asked the doctor if he knew the whereabouts of their village. The doctor gave him the information. In the meantime, the landlord’s wife was laughing and laughing.

The landlord sent his servants to that village and they brought back the young man. By this time the landlord’s anger could not be contained. He said, “You rogue! Give me my money back! You have tricked me!”

The young man said, “I have spent it.”

“How could you spend it?” asked the landlord.

“Do you remember what you asked me?” said the young man.

“I do remember,” replied the landlord.

The young man said, “Then repeat what you told me.”

The landlord said, “I told you that both the walls and the box have to be exactly the same colour.”

“So, you are saying they have to be the same?” echoed the young man. “You did not tell me that the walls have to be the colour of the box. You just told me that they have to be the same colour. So I found the method that was easiest for me and I did it. I changed the colour of the box.”

The landlord was still furious because he had been fooled. Then his wife said, “He did not fool you. It is you who are the fool. You did not tell him correctly what he was supposed to do.”

The landlord’s son also joined his mother’s side. He said, “Father, it is true. You made the mistake.”

When they came to hear of the young man’s trick, the villagers all laughed and laughed. They said, “At last, this perfectionist has learnt his lesson. He always demands perfection from others. He was never satisfied with anybody, so God punished him. If you constantly find fault with everybody, then rest assured, one day somebody will fool you and it will be unbearable.”