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Business > Business, and a Story

Business, and a Story

Just when I really, really need it, the multiverse seems to come through for me and my coworkers in sales/commissions. And so that was the case just now. Enough to keep the wolves away from all the doors.

Speaking of doors reminds me of a book of stories I read as a kid about Ooka the Wise, a (fictional) judge in ancient Japan. He was very kind to both the poor and to children, and got mad when someone mocked or mistreated them. Here’s one of the stories if you want to hear it:

This is the story about the very wealthy-and-selfish old man of the village…
The village where Ooka lived was some distance in the countryside away from Tokyo, I think. One night, there was a terrible storm, and the village’s orphanage was blown down. So the village instituted a tax — or Ooka did, according to the usual custom — to pay for a new roof, etc., to fix the orphanage. Every householder had to pay one gold piece for each door he had on his house. Naturally, rich houses had more doors.

This very rich man was angry about the tax, because he had six doors. He showed up at the tax line and handed Ooka ONE gold coin. Ooka glared at him and said, “Where are the other five coins? You have six doors to your house! You must pay this!”

The rich man said smugly, “But Lord Ooka, before coming here I nailed shut all but one of my doors. Now I have only one… so that is my payment.” He looked around to see if everyone was admiring his sagacity.

Ooka didn’t like this. After trying to appeal to the man’s reason, which didn’t work, he gestured to the orphans, who were sitting nearby, sad and homeless. He asked him if he could look at those poor faces and say he couldn’t pay more or that it was unfair, when he had so much and they so little.

The man said, “I do say it! My wife and I have no children and these are not ours. Why, it is an injustice for me to pay this one gold piece!”

Ooka said, “Oh, I cannot have an injustice blamed on my court. I will find a way that you do not have to pay this tax.” And he handed the rich man back his coin. The rich man smiled.

Then Ooka called to a workman and sent him to nail shut the last door remaining of the man’s house. The man cried out, “But now I cannot get in!” Ooka told him that was his problem and to go away.

The weather continued to be terrible, and the rich man and his wife were forced to sleep outside, night after night, in the rain. He was miserable, and went back to Ooka. Ooka yelled, “No tax, no door!” and sent him away. After a few days the man came again, worse than before.

The man said, “Lord Ooka, you are famous for helping the poor. Now I am the poorest man in Japan.”

Ooka considered. “You know, you could afford to keep these children yourself. And then you would officially be an orphanage, and not be taxed.” The man was up in arms: The rice this dozen children would eat! The tea they would drink! and so on. He was not only wealthy (with access to his house, that is) but a cheapskate. But he had no choice; Ooka sent a worker to open up the man’s doors again.

For a while the man and his wife were unhappy with the noise and fuss of all these children. He grated about the bills. But after a while they learned to live well together, and it soon became that his was the happiest house in Japan.

I tend to recall stories I loved.

posted on Apr 1, 2016 1:15 PM ()


Lovely story, and, unfortunately, a fairy-tale ending.
comment by tealstar on Apr 2, 2016 7:21 AM ()
You might like the other stories, there was one in which Ooka was enforcing a sort of gifts-to-minors law, and another where a rich storekeeper got smacked down for being nasty.
reply by drmaus on Apr 4, 2016 2:37 PM ()
At one time there was a window or door tax in Louisiana. I love the
story. True happiness comes from helping others.
comment by elderjane on Apr 1, 2016 4:02 PM ()
I remember a few others from that collection, and they were like that too, inspiring one to be kind.
reply by drmaus on Apr 4, 2016 2:35 PM ()
That's a cute story. I've seen 100+ year-old houses in England where the windows are bricked over because at one time there was window tax.
comment by troutbend on Apr 1, 2016 1:21 PM ()
If we had a window tax I'd be in trouble. My front room has big windows taking up most of 3 walls.
reply by drmaus on Apr 4, 2016 2:35 PM ()
I never knew that. A window tax. Stupid never dies.
reply by tealstar on Apr 2, 2016 7:20 AM ()

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