Melvin Maples was manager of the Main Street Bank. This was a very good thing for Melvin Maples, but not such a very good thing for the Main Street Bank. You see Melvin Maples was very bad at math.
Now a bank manager’s job, as you probably know, is all about math. He has to keep track of all that money. He has to know how much money people have put into the bank and how much money they have taken out of it. He has to know how much money is in the safe before he locks it up at night. And it’s quite important that he doesn’t make math mistakes. I’ll give you an example of why.
Not long after Melvin Maples became manager, Mrs. Robinson put $400 into the bank, Melvin wrote down 400 on his list and put the money into the safe. That same day Mr. Staples put $800 into the bank, Melvin wrote down 800 on his list and put the money into the safe. He added the two numbers together on the list and wrote down 1,300. Unfortunately for Melvin 400 and 800 is actually only 1,200. He never even noticed his mistake. Until the next day. Because the first thing he did the next day was take all that money out of the safe and count it. And of course, there was only $1,200 in that safe. And his list said there should be $1,300 in the safe.
“We’ve been robbed!” shouted Melvin. “Someone has taken $200 dollars from the safe!”
Melvin called the police and they came with a crowd of newspaper reporters and everyone studied the bank closely, but they could not see how anyone could have gotten into that safe. Finally, though, the chief of police looked over Melvin’s list and saw that he had added the numbers wrong. No one had taken anything from the safe of the Main Street Bank.
Now you would think that Melvin Maples would have been very embarrassed to have caused such a fuss just because he was very bad at math. But he was not. Melvin just shrugged a bit and said, “Well, we all have our little foibles, don’t we?”
The answer, of course, is that we DO all have our little foibles, because a foible is a minor flaw or shortcoming, and we certainly all have those. I don’t think the Main Street Bank would have thought that Melvin Maples lack of math skills was a foible, however. I think the Main Street Bank would have thought that not being able to add simple numbers was a MAJOR flaw in a bank manager. I’ll give you another example of why.
At the beginning of the day, Melvin Maples had $1000 in his safe. Not long after the supposed robbery, Mr. Green came and took out $300, and Melvin took the money from the safe, gave it to Mr. Green, and wrote down 300 on his list. Later that day, Miss Sharp came in and took out $500, and Melvin took the money from the safe, gave it to Miss Sharp, and wrote down 500 on his list. Finally, near the end of the day, Mrs. Shelley came and put $900 into the bank, and Melvin wrote down 900 on his list and put the money into the safe. At the end of the day, Melvin did all the math and determined that there should still be $1000 in the safe. When he counted the money, he realized there was actually $1,100 in the safe. He counted several times to be sure. He added the numbers (and added them wrong) again. Finally he determined that the extra $100 must have fallen out of his pocket, and he took it home with him.
Without even knowing it, Melvin Maples had stolen $100 from the Main Street Bank! No mere foible, that!
As you can imagine, things got worse pretty fast. Not long after the unintentional robbery, Mr. Pratt came and put $400 into the bank. The next day Mr. Pratt took $150 out of the bank. The day after that, Mr. Pratt put $600 into the bank. On the fourth day, Mr. Pratt came in and asked for $850. Melvin Maples added up all the numbers on his list.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “You only have $750 here in the bank.”
Mr. Pratt was rightly furious. He demanded his money. Melvin Maples said he could only have $750. Mr. Pratt yelled. Melvin Maples called the guards and had Mr. Pratt thrown out of the bank. But Mr. Pratt was good at math. He knew how much money he had in the Main Street Bank. So he called the owners of the bank. The came immediately down to see what was the matter, and it certainly did not take long to discover Melvin Maples and his math mistakes.
What do you suppose? That was the end of Melvin Maples as the manger of the Main Street Bank. Mr. Pratt became the new manager. And Melvin Maples was sent back to school just as fast as he could get his coat and his hat.