The Good Samaritan Experiment
I was inspired to write this while reading, Anton Chekhov's short stories.
So here it is...The Good Samaritan Experiment.
So here it is...The Good Samaritan Experiment.
A very rich man who was bored with his life thought of the following scheme: “I’ll disguise myself as a homeless person and beg. I will then give one million dollars to the first person that helps me!” After a self congratulatory nod he began to enact his plan:
He went to a local thrift store and bought the worst looking clothes. The clothes were so tattered and worn that the shop owner offered him a free shirt. Each time he moved he felt the itchy polyester against his skin. In order to further his derelict appearance he tore some more holes in his already tattered garments, wiped his hair with vegetable oil, and put some dirt smudges on his face. He looked in the mirror and uttered; “Now I am ready to go to the streets.”
He quickly exited his mansion so he wouldn't be seen by any of his wealthy neighbors. Just the mere look of him in this dilapidated state would arouse suspicion and cause scandal. After successfully navigating through this first obstacle he headed towards the busiest street in the town. After looking around he settled upon on a location which was right in front of classical period fountain. The fountain contained a sculpture of a nude muscular man holding a sword in his right hand and a shield in his left. The fountain was rumored to have been a gift from the Ivanov family. Strange, he had passed by this fountain a million times without really ever noticing it. He hunched over somewhat awkwardly and began to beg.
To improve his chances of being noticed he decided against writing a sign. Instead he thought that it would be better if he just sat silently and displayed a face of great distress and sadness. He was fairly successful in pulling off this desperate look even though he resembled an unemployed mime. For further dramatic effect he reached out his right hand, palm upturned systematically to each passerby.
The rich man saw a lady approaching him. By the look of her she was slightly past fifty, and very attractive. She wore a power suit; the kind that successful business executives wore. She also had very high heels which clacked in a staccato like fashion, the faster she walked, the shorter the staccato. As she approached the rich man, she gazed on him compassionately with a look of genuine concern. Her look resembled that of a mother looking after a sick child. There was also a tinge of regret in her eyes as if she were burdened by something. As she drew nearer, she suddenly turned away, and nearly slipped. She looked like she wanted to turn back, but was interrupted the by her ringing cell phone.
“That was strange”, uttered the rich man. “She looked right at me and for a moment I felt that we connected.” He then decided to redouble his efforts. He would work twice as hard; appear dirtier, more pathetic, and more in need. He then saw a woman in the distance with two children. As the woman approached he was able to make out some of her features: She was of Hispanic descent, looked too old for her age and appeared disheveled. Yet there was a great serenity in her eyes. She was a survivor. She had battled life and had come out at top. Her bruises and premature aging were seen as badges of honor in a dog eat dog world where only the strong survived. She approached and said “Ello. Me no help you, me poor… no money…two kids..sorry.” The rich man was taken aback. Here it was…it seemed so gospel like that a poor woman would help him, but she didn't. His spirit was dampened. He even toyed with ending the experiment and just giving the poor woman the money. Alas , but no.
A police officer then approached and said in a commanding voice, “You are not allowed to picket here asking for money if you don’t have a permit.”
“I don’t have one”, replied the rich man.
“Then you gotta leave,” said the police officer.
“I can’t. I don’t have any money. I need somewhere to stay, to sleep.” said the rich man this time with more resolve in his voice.
“Do you have any relatives that we can call?” asked the officer.
“Then I have to take you to the shelter. Come with me.” persuaded the officer.
“No, I must stay here.” So far he had been proved wrong during this experiment and in order to regain his spiritual footing he needed to be reminded that there was justice in the world, that there was a noble aim to living and that living in comfort wasn't the only way. If he couldn't find the truth by this experiment then what else was there to believe in.? He was wealthy; he had it all, a mansion, a sports car, multiple servants, and an Ivy League education. Yet he felt horrible. Now he wasn't just a miserable rich person, he was a miserable rich person without the consolation of knowing that there was a certain cosmic, clock-work order to the universe. Nothing made sense.
His experiment had seemingly ended as he finally resigned himself to defeat and went towards the officer waving a figurative white flag.
“If you don’t leave the fountain area you will be arrested” said the officer resolutely.
The rich man in a final act of defiance or in his case of mistaken courage uttered semi audibly, “Arrest me, then.”
This small act of rebellion punctuated the defeat of the rich man’s plan.
As the officer was escorting the rich man, a grey Mercedes approached them. Opening the passenger window a man said to the officer, “Hey officer Brooks.” The officer instantly recognizing him replied in a friendly tone,
“Hi… how are you doing Tom?...How are the kids.”
The man in the Mercedes replied, “The kids are great, growing up too fast... Hey what’s going on with that guy? You taking him to the station? “
“ Yeah he won’t go to a shelter “said the cop. Mercedes man then suggested “How about you let him go, drop the charges and I will his pay fines. Then bring him to a decent hotel where he can sleep and eat in peace for the night.”
“No problem Tom.” responded the officer.
“Today is your lucky day kid. You see Tom here for the past two years, ever since his son died has picked up poor fellows like yourself and eventually takes them in until they get on their feet. He even helps them find a job. The only thing that he demands is that the people say a couple of prayers, read a few Bible verses, do their chores, and promise to obey the rules of the house. He’s a great guy!”…
“How does he do all of this?” asked the rich man sincerely.
“Oh it’s simple. He is a billionaire. He is the CEO and owner of Tuckerton Industries an alternative energy company. He helps guys like you as a way of giving back to the community and of remembering his lost son. It gives him a sense of purpose I guess.
“Yeah you’re right. Sounds like a great guy.” Responded the rich man sarcastically.
“He is. Like I said before this is your lucky day.”
As the officer said this he took the cuffs off the rich man. The rich man felt even more dejected then before. Not only had his experiment gone horribly wrong, but now ironically, he had been helped by someone who was even wealthier then himself. It wasn't just a failed experiment, it was defeat. Defeat spiritually, mentally, and psychologically. He walked on, head bowed and more miserable and bored than ever.