Friday, October 7, 2011

Sam, The Resale Man

Sam ran a thriving neighborhood business. His goal was to have, in his little store, anything the neighbors might need on the spur of the moment, simple tools, household cleaning supplies, fresh local fruit and vegetables, locally produced baked goods . . . you get the idea. His sales seldom exceeded $10 to any one customer but it added up each day to a handsome bundle that he took to the bank.

One day an official looking car drove up to the curb at his store and two well-dressed men got out. They entered the store and identified themselves as food inspectors. However they focused their attention on his fresh produce, particularly the tomatoes, taking samples with them for analysis. After they left Sam quickly removed the rest of the tomatoes, taking them to a kitchen to be washed and returned.

Most of Sam’s suppliers were conscientious growers he had dealt with for years who sold, not only to him, but to other stores in town. They were careful in their production and harvesting procedures, knowing that the future of their business depended upon the product they sold. But Sam had a farmer friend who had offered to get him tomatoes at half the price he’d been paying the other suppliers. Half the price meant 25% more profit so he took the offer, no questions asked. Now he wished he’d asked some questions.

It turned out that Sam’s tomatoes, which, by the way had been shipped in from who-knows-where by the farmer, had sickened a number of people in town, with serious consequences for three, resulting in death for one. Sam’s store was closed down and an investigation resulted in criminal charges against him and his farmer friend. Sam got by easy with two years of prison time.

But it was time well spent. Sam made a major change in his life, shortly after arriving in prison, making a commitment of his life to God and reforming the way he thought and operated. He left prison a changed man and began to rebuild his life. His dream was to redeem himself in the community and regain his right to run his little store. Eventually he achieved that goal, and to this day, he has the confidence and friendship of his neighbors.

Sam is a member in good standing of a local church, serves occasionally on its board, works with a scouting program, teaches adult Bible classes, and is a leader of the men’s group. No one in town ever recalls that Sam was, at one time, careless in the product he passed on to the community.

Like most of the people Sam now knows he holds very conservative religious and political views and links his love of God to his love of country. He believes that his country has an exceptional place in God’s plan for the world and that it must be held true to the principles upon which he believes it was founded. He worries, as do his friends, that liberal politicians, from the local school board right on up to the President of the United States are out to destroy the essential morality of the country. Most of them are, he believes, socialists, which is almost the same as communist.

Sam is on Facebook, and Twitter, and of course receives tons of e-mail. Some of it makes him mad, stories about the politicians he distrusts, stories revealing their lack of morals, their dis-loyalty to the country, awful unpatriotic things that they have said and done. Some of the e-mails make him laugh, funny jokes (sometimes a little raw) that put those politicians in a ridiculous or compromised light. Once in a while his mind says to him, “Can this be true?” But he doesn’t have the time to check the validity of the slanders, and they are just too good to not pass on – especially the jokes – so he does, to a long list of folks he knows in his new-found family of Christian friends and acquaintances. Even if the stories are somewhat tainted, they get the main message through that these guys are not good for the country.

And in his circle Sam is a respected man, a man of God, Bible scholar, teacher, leader of boys, and a good father too. And most of all he is a successful small businessman. Every morning, six days a week, he opens his little store with great satisfaction and turns the “Closed” sign around to read “Open”. On the side that faces him Sam had written a reminder to himself, the first day he reopened his cherished store. He never wanted to repeat his error and lose his way again.

The message read: IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE SOURCE, AND CAN’T BE SURE OF THE QUALITY, DON’T PASS IT ON! SOMEONE’S LIFE MAY BE AT STAKE.

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