There were once three workers in a bank in Russia. One day, one of the workers was fired because he had come late to work. Not only was he fired, but in those days in Russia if you came late to work, they would put you in jail. So he was thrown into jail.
On another day, the second worker came early. As a result, the manager of the bank suspected he was a spy, assuming he had come early to see if he could send some news or some sort of message to America. Otherwise, he thought, there was no reason for him to come early. So that worker was also arrested and thrown into jail.
The third worker always came on time. One day, the bank manager asked him, “How do you always come on time?”
The worker answered, “It is because I have an American wristwatch. It keeps perfect time.”
The manager said, “How is it that you have an American wristwatch? I do not have an American wristwatch. Communism means that all are equal. How can you have this wristwatch and not me? No, it is not good. I will have you thrown into jail for three months because you are not following communism. After three months, when you come back, I will give you back your wristwatch.” So the third worker was sent to jail without his wristwatch.
All three workers ended up in the same jail together.
The first worker said to the others, “What is this? I came late to work once and I ended up in jail! Look at my fate!”
The second worker exclaimed, “What about me? I came to work early and because of that I have been thrown into jail! Does it make any sense?”
The third worker said, “My case is the worst! For wearing an American wristwatch I have been put in jail! Because I wanted always to be on time for work, I used an American wristwatch which keeps the correct time, whereas Russian wristwatches do not.”
They all said to each other, “Now what shall we do?”
The three workers were all of the same opinion. They decided that since it was due to the policies of the bank that they were now in jail, they would rob the bank at the earliest opportunity.
All three agreed that once their jail terms were over, they would go back to the bank and cry and cry to have their jobs back. They felt that the manager would be very happy to give them back their jobs because he would feel badly that they had undergone imprisonment. On their first day back, they would all go to work at the same time. The best thing would be for them to go as early as possible. Then they could easily rob the bank. Afterwards, with the money they stole, they could go to a real spy. They would offer the spy a little money and ask him to help them to go to America, the land of the bold and the land of the gold.
When their jail sentences were over, the three workers went back to the bank crying and crying, and the manager did give them their jobs back. Then, as planned, they robbed the bank. Next, they went to see the spy to give him money so that he would make arrangements for them to go to America.
The spy said to the three workers, “You have given me money. Let me see what I can do for you. I am sure my friends in America will take care of you. I will make the arrangements for you.”
Overjoyed at the prospect of going to America, the three workers eagerly gave the spy even more money. Still they had some left for their journey to America. They were very happy.
Alas, after taking the money from the workers, the spy went directly to the manager of the bank and told him everything. The bank manager was furious and immediately had the three arrested and sent back to jail. The spy was honoured by the bank and received a cash reward from the bank manager, while the three workers ended up in jail again — this time indefinitely.