Merchant of Menace

    Ted got his start in business when his parents were killed in an accident and he took over the tiny corner store they ran.  He was only twenty two.  
    The business had not been doing well and he was advised to sell it.  He didn’t take that advice.  He had his own idea why the business made little profit.  In short, his parents were too soft.  They were suckers for sob stories.  They frequently wrote off bills for those who were having financial problems and gave things away to those who couldn’t afford to buy.
    While he loved his parents, he vowed he would not repeat their business mistakes.  No more handouts.  Credit only to those with a good credit rating.  His business philosophy was a simple one — make profit.
If the store had products on which he could not make much profit, he replaced them with other products that brought in more profit.  If he thought he could get away with raising the price on an item and still get a reasonable amount of sales, he would do that.
    His strategy worked.  He did loose a few long time customers, but gained new ones when he added more upscale items to his inventory.  The gourmet food and designer kitchenware brought in a whole new clientèle that spent a lot more than those losers in his neighborhood.  Within a year, he was doing well enough to expand.
    He heard that another neighborhood grocery store in another part of the city was failing and the owner was trying to sell it.  He thought an additional store in that part of town could do well with the right person operating it and it wouldn’t take business away from his current store.  So he arranged to meet the owner.
    First, he hired a private detective who had a reputation for helping people getting divorced to dig up dirt on their spouse.  He had the detective dig up dirt on the owner of the store.  
    The detective didn’t find much.  Just a few pranks and an arrest way back when he was in high school.  It wasn’t much, but It would probably be enough.
    Ted showed up at the meeting to negotiate to buy the store.  During small talk before actually getting down to business, he jokingly asked if the guy still liked to play pranks like he did in high school.  This surprising statement set him up just as Ted planned.  He ended up getting the store for much less than it was worth.
    The new store did well and the old one continued to grow.  Soon Ted was ready for more investments.  This time he bought an old hotel for very little, spent a few thousand fixing it up, and reopened it under a new name.
    And on it went.  Stores, hotels, apartment houses, business buildings, even part owner of a small airline.
Ted was now eighty years old and was believed to be worth over one billion.  
    Nobody lives forever, at least not in the physical world, and Ted died of a heart attack at age eighty-two.
He arrived at the pearly gates expecting to be let in.  After all, he was a big success.  But Ted found the definition of success in Heaven is a bit different than it is on earth.
    “But I fed an orphan once.”  he argued.  “Yes, but you also tore down an orphanage to build a condominium complex sending more than a hundred orphans away, many, back to the streets” was the reply.  I made some large donations to charity” he insisted.  “True enough” was the reply, “But only to charities that gave you plenty of publicity for making the donation.  That not really giving.  That’s buying advertising.”
“But what about” began Ted’s next argument.  “Enough” said the voice from beyond the gate.  “You made your choice.  You had your reward on earth, wallowing in wealth while others went hungry, naked and without medical care when they needed.  You didn’t care because all you cared about was yourself.  You divorced yourself from the human race while you were alive, you don’t get to change your ways now.  It’s just too late”.

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