Letter: Harry and Jim

Harry and Jim (fictional people) were brothers, both uneducated, Harry being the elder, Jim the younger. Both were born salesmen with that promoter’s gift for endless, empty phrase-making, which most often disguised their confidence man’s real intent.

Harry was paranoid and exhibited subtle personality-disorder tendencies, while Jim was antisocial in a number of ways not easily described, but his eyes darted quickly from side to side, seemingly unable to focus straight ahead toward whomever he was speaking to.

Fortunately (or so it seemed), they entered the American marketplace during an era (perhaps unprecedented) when marketplace dollar numbers grew so large that accountants were no longer taken seriously and so were referred to in that disparaging manner as “bean counters.” One day, Harry and Jim decided to hire a bean counter for the express purpose of posturing as legitimate businessmen. However, much to their chagrin, this bean counter quickly saw through their con game and blew the whistle.

However, during this period in America when unprosecuted white-collar crime became an acceptable way of life, they managed to avoid prison time due to the now-perennial failings of American civil and criminal law that accompanied this era of financial aggrandizement.

Following their short lives here on Earth, however, divine law adjudicated that they reside (eternally, of course) in separate but adjoining cells. Each morning upon awakening, a tractor-trailer loaded with beans and empty jars would arrive — and the counting would begin. Jim, being the younger, would count to 1,000, close the jar and hand the jar to Harry, the elder, who acted as internal auditor and who would recount to ensure the integrity of Jim’s count. Were there an error, the jar would be returned to Jim for reloading.

Needless to say, over time (that is, eternally), tractor-trailers began backing up as far as the eye could see (that is, eternally) due to numerous miscounts.

One day, the prison warden walked by and inquired how Harry and Jim were getting along. Each requested some relief in the form of suitable reading. Soon thereafter, the warden returned with:

a) “Introduction to Financial Accounting,” by Ingrid R. Torsay.

b) “The Divine Comedy,” by Dante Alighieri.

Art Allard