Jewish World Review July 19, 2002 / 10 Menachem-Av, 5762

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports

Greed and Mints on the Pillows | A mother tucks her child into bed and the little girl looks up with saucer-like eyes and asks to hear the story of mints on the pillows one more time.

"But it's such a scary story," the mommy says. "Wouldn't you rather hear something by Stephen King?"

"Oh, please Mommy, Tell the story about mints on the pillows and Enron and Worldcom and Tyco just once more. Please?"

The mother relents and the story begins:

"One day, a businessman went on a trip and stayed at a Motel Seven. The motel was a bargain. The sheets were a little thin, but it had a clean bed, a sink with hot water, a shower stall and a tiny bar of soap.

"The next day the man decided Motel Seven wasn't enough. He thought it would be nice to stay in one of those places that had a breakfast buffet. I deserve a cinnamon roll by the pot of caf and decaf sitting next to the registration desk in the morning, he said to himself. A free newspaper would be nice, too."

"Mommy, you left out the part where he says, 'What's the point of life if you're not livin'?"

"That's right. What's the point of life if you're not livin'?

There was a nice pool at the motel, but no workout room and the cinnamon roll might have been a touch stale. It wasn't enough. It was all the man could afford, but he had to have more. The next night he stayed at the El Grande Luxury Inn Health Spa and Golf Club Resort."

"With the bellmen in navy blue uniforms and red trim, Mommy?"

"Yes, sweetie, and rooms with fold-out ironing boards, televisions in the bathrooms, built-in hair dryers and luxurious terry cloth robes available for purchase. And at night there was turn-down service. Housekeeping placed a chocolate mint embossed with the hotel's monogram and wrapped in pretty foil on the man's pillow.

"The next morning the man awoke thinking it was a fine resort, but it still wasn't enough. He needed more mints. A finer grade chocolate. He called the concierge and demanded the hotel bring mints for his approval. He couldn't afford mints. He was so broke, he couldn't afford a free shower cap. His credit cards were maxed to the hilt, so he began to steal.

"He changed numbers on company accounting files and played dishonest shell games with other people's money. Mints arrived from Germany and Switzerland. It still wasn't enough. Chocolates came from Denmark and Norway. Still, the man craved more. And 'don't try to fool me with that domestic stuff from Hershey, Pennsylvania,' he'd say."

"Get to the good part, Mommy."

"The man's room overflowed with mints. He couldn't find his pillow or his bed, which meant he couldn't sleep at night, or even take a nap in the afternoon. Before long, greed cost the man everything he owned. His family. His business. What's more, thousands of good people who worked for him lost everything they had, too. Still, the man schemed how to get more. It was never enough. Never enough."

"And what happened to all the mints, Mommy?"

"They grew wings and flew away as eagles to the heavens."

"So the man didn't have mints on his pillow anymore, right?"

"That's right, honey. But he did have a pillow. A very simple pillow. Along with a very simple bed in a very simple cell."

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JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here.

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© 2001, Lori Borgman