The Experiment: Short Story

John Kolyav By John Kolyav, 6th Sep 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Short Stories

The Story of an ex-student, reluctantly conducted a test on the honesty of his teacher

The bet

“I don’t agree with you, man! You don’t know the world. I’ve been running this grocery shop for the last forty years. I couldn’t meet even a single customer absolutely trustable.”

I protested, “There were people like Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln, my dear boss! Mr. Thomas may not be as honest as they were. Still, I trust him.”

“How do you know they were honest? Is it not through books? Were those authors honest?”

He took out the glasses and gazed at me. The uneducated man was shrewder than I thought. I had to catch him. “Do you believe your holy book?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“If not, I’ll be ostracized.”

“Means, you don’t believe it from your core, eh?”

He laughed. “I don’t believe anything blindly, John. How long have you been working here as my salesman? Four years, right? Even without your knowledge I have tested you a few times before concluding that you are okay. I had left the drawer opened and cash disorderly kept as if it was not counted.” After a pause he continued, “What prompted you believe your ex-teacher honest is your blind faith built on prejudice. Have you ever tested him?”

“No! But, my hero will survive any testing. He was my class teacher.” I said firmly.

“Bet?”

“No need of any bet.”

“You’re not sure!”

“Do you doubt it? Then, you try to tempt, my dear Satan!”

He laughed. “Okay. Next occasion when he pays the bill, you handle the cash as we do sometimes. I’ll pack the items, and sit in your chair pretending careless. If he gives you a big piece, return a little extra balance. Let’s see.”

“Do you think he would be trapped by trifle? He’s all set to go abroad for teaching.”

“You test it! There are people whom I know are honest in big sum but waver in small. It may happen opposite also” He frowned. “Why are you chuckling scornfully, eh?”

The twist

On Tuesday evening my boss signaled to me. I saw Mr. Thomas, my ex-teacher, at the turning of the street, about fifty meters away. We interchanged our positions.

There was nothing unusual in it. Although he was my boss, sometimes he executed a salesman’s role, and I that of a cashier cum manager to avoid monotony of the work.

He packed all the things Mr. Thomas ordered, and kept them on the table. When I gave the balance my hand shivered a little.

I signaled to boss.

Counted once, he glanced at my boss, who seemed concentrated in reading. He counted again, and suddenly thrust the notes into his pocket, took the bag and stepped out. I was about to faint.

Suddenly my boss sprang up like a hound and shouted, “Sir, please one minute!”

He halted and turned round.

“Sir, this guy sometimes commit mistake. I wonder if you got extra…”

“No!” My teacher was sweating, and my heart trembled.

“Please see, sir!”

It was an order rather than a request.

He slowly took out the amount.

My boss snatched it. “See! You see! It is twenty extra!” he shouted triumphantly, took the extra and gave back the due amount.

A few people gathered. Thomas staggered away.

Instead of keeping it secret, the old man chaffed it. His intention was not only demolishing the myth of honesty surrounding Mr. Thomas but also to prove that he was efficient in detecting any act of cheating under his nose. Therefore, he kept the bet undisclosed.

The next evening also my teacher came. Gazes were different at him. Still, he purchased a kilogram coconut oil and departed. I knew he wanted to talk something. But, it was peak time of business.

Just as he departed, the customers prone to laughter as my boss commented on honesty, hinting indirectly at Mr. Thomas.

The next day onwards my teacher never appeared in the street. The old man explained it was due to pricking conscience.

On Monday, three weeks later, I got a letter from Kuwait. It was from my hero. After routine enquiries about my well being there were a few sentences that pierced my heart.

‘John, you are as careless as you were during schooldays. I know that the job is very precious for your poor family. Don’t lose it! No boss would tolerate the inefficiency of his employee, especially in excess balance. Although I detected it in my first count I checked it a second time to assert. I thought to hand it over the next occasion when you are alone. But, he somehow sniffed it. Must be fate. Take care! Don’t repeat!’

Further reading: http://expertscolumn.com/users/johnsonpjohn
http://www.triond.com/users/johnsonpjohn

Tags

Alumni, Gandhi, Grocery, Honest Abe, Honesty, Kuwait, Lincoln, Merchant, Student, Teacher, Thomas

Meet the author

author avatar John Kolyav
Born in 1963, Postgraduated in 1986. Six novels and four poetry books published. Got three state- level awards for literary works. More details at www.johnsonpj.com

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