Joe Carson was on his way to visit one of his friends when it all happened. Looking back later, he realized that he could have easily avoided one of the most unpleasant experiences of his life.
It all started at the bus stop outside Joe’s home. He noticed that there was a young man standing next to him with the phone he’d been coveting, a brand latest generation cellular. He’d do anything to have that phone, he thought enviously…
The bus turned the corner, and the guy put his phone away in his jacket pocket, and when the bus came to a standstill in front of the stop, he climbed on board, and so did Joe.
There were only two seats left by chance, so Joe and the guy ended up sitting next to each other. Joe reached for his phone and started sending his friend a message, and his fellow passenger started flirting with a pretty girl.
The man was smiling and winking at the girl in the seat across the aisle, and Joe had to admit she was one of the prettiest girls he’d ever seen. She was smiling back at the guy and giggling with her friend.
“Lucky dog,” thought Joe. “He’s got the phone, he’ll get the girl, and what have I got?”
The guy sitting next to him got up, and that was when the bus lurched. Joe saw the man’s phone fall out of his pocket and onto his seat. He raised his hand and was about to call out to the man when he imagined that phone gleaming in his own hand.
So he sat and watched the man get off the bus and casually laid his jacket over the seat. Then, under the cover of the jacket, he quickly pocketed the phone. DONE! He knew the phone had a sophisticated encryption system, but he also knew a man who«d crack it for $50.
Instead of getting off at the bus stop closest to his friend’s house, Joe stayed on the bus. He sent his hacker friend a message and swiftly received a reply. Twenty minutes later, Joe was in an unsavory part of town.
He got off the bus and headed down the street towards his hacker friend’s house. One hundred meters from his destination, a man stepped in front of him. He was young, with a smudge of a mustache and a wide smile. It wasn’t a nice smile.
“Hey man, have you got a cigarette for me?” he asked Joe.
Joe shook his head. “Sorry, man, I don’t smoke.” The man was looking Joe up and down, and his feet snagged on his new sneakers.
“Those are some pretty fancy JBs! What size do you wear, man?”
Joe was starting to feel uncomfortable, so he turned to walk back but discovered that two more men were standing behind him. “Come on, man!” the guy with the mustache said, “Help a brother out!”
Joe’s envy of the other man’s expensive belongings led him to act in a dishonest way.
“What do you want?” Joe asked nervously.
“My shoes, man, they have holes in them. You a charitable-looking man, so how about you give me the shoes?”
Joe looked at the man, glanced behind his shoulder at his friends, noticed the way one of them was gripping a length of steel pipe. He forced a smile. “Sure, man,” he said and bent to untie his shoelaces.
The man took the shoes from Joe’s shaking hands. “Thanks, man,” he said with a grateful smile, “You know, I’d love me a phone. Have you got a phone?”
Joe hesitated, then he reached into his back pocket and handed over his phone. The man looked at it and looked distinctly disappointed. “This ain’t the phone for a classy guy like you, brother!”
“Well,” said Joe, “It’s what I’ve got!”
One of the men behind him said, “What about his wallet?” and Joe wordlessly handed it over. The man with the mustache rifled through it took out Joe’s $200 and change, and handed the wallet back.
The man smiled at him. “You’re an OK guy, .you didn’t hold out on us, so I’m gonna be generous…” he said. And it was at that precise moment that the phone hidden deep in Joe’s jacket pocket started ringing.
They took the brand new expensive phone, they also took Joe’s jeans, jacket, and sweater, and left him a bus token. Joe walked back to the bus stop in his Calvin Klein underwear and counted himself lucky
If he hadn’t taken that phone, he wouldn’t be in this part of town, wouldn’t have run into the muggers. And wouldn’t be barefoot and nearly naked in the sharp autumn wind. If only he’d been honest…
What can we learn from this Story?
1. Honesty is the best policy. Joe was dishonest twice: first when he took something that didn’t belong to him, secondly when he lied to the thieves who punished him by taking everything he had.
2. Greed is a bad counselor.
Joe’s envy of the other man’s expensive belongings led him to act dishonestly. If he had called out and handed the phone over to its owner, he wouldn’t have lost everything he had.