Many years ago in Springfield, a couple of enterprising young men decided to open a bank. They were very creative and wanted a bank that everyone would want to visit. Yes, they followed the banking laws, but cut corners. They did this to provide services customers would shout about (and tell others). For example, they offered loans that had a much lower interest rate than other banks. In addition, they offered them to about everyone who applied.
One of the corners they cut included not installing a bank vault. They kept all the money stacked up on a table. Oh, it was well behind the teller’s counter, but also in clear site of everyone who came into the bank.
“This way people will know their money is here,” one of the men explained. “Not stashed away in some other business or unscrupulous enterprise.”
Their employees were very reliable and never took any of the money. They also never talked to others about how the money sat on the table day and night.
The bank flourished. One day a competing banker came in to investigate why this one had taken so much of his own business. He almost immediately noticed the large pile of money on the table behind the tellers. A little bell went off in his head. He wandered back and forth in the lobby inspecting the bank. He waved at the two men who started this thriving business then hurried out. He laughed, whistled a tune and skipped a few times as he walked back to his own bank.
Now although this banker did not look like a nice person, he wasn’t a thief either. Oh, he had dirty stock deals and lousy loans like most of the other bankers, but he never robbed a bank. This would be too easy though. He could get away with this and no one would suspect him because, well, he was a banker.
Later that night he broke into the competing bank and took all the money off the table. He giddily ran home, threw it on his bed, and rolled around in all the loot. He really loved money.
The next day the police came and investigated, but could not figure out who stole the money. They chastised the two bankers for not having a vault and walked out. The police did promise to keep working on the case, but not much got accomplished.
The townspeople all expressed sorrow for the two men who got robbed, but also said the men should have invested in a vault or done something more positive to prevent the theft.
Eventually the police found out that another banker stole the money. After all, he was quite often seen with lots of money hanging out of his pockets and spending a great deal on chocolate and beer. Other bankers swore they’d never do anything like steal or buy too much chocolate. They all insisted they were good people. The thief escaped to Tahiti. No one believed he’d ever face justice, but they hoped he'd pay the price for this crime.
The two young bankers commiserated with other bankers robbed of money. These others never bothered to tell anyone or call the police until after this incident. After all, they were bankers and wanted to stay in business.
The outcry became louder and louder. Soon all the bankers agreed they should never steal money. After a year, the two young entrepreneurs wrote a book about the affair and made more money. They opened a credit union. To the relief of everyone, they also bought a bank vault.
Ahhhh, James Thurber
What do you mean you think The Thurber Brigade should have called this another sidestep? It’s about relationships between men and women. Don’t expect us to explain to you this allegory about the Harvey Weinstein controversy. Sheesh, next you’ll want us to explain what the end of the TV show “Lost” meant, or to tell you how Koala bears somehow made it to Noah’s ark. Like all GREAT literature, this is just another one you’ll have to think about on your own—although we’d really appreciate comments (no cursing please).