What An Opportunity

The Verger

In Life on July 6, 2013 at 1:10 am

There was once a verger – the keeper of a church – who faithfully and diligently carried out his work, day after day. He was a simple man, however, and had never learned to read; the church board learned of his illiteracy and fired him, saying it reflected poorly on the parish. The former verger immediately left the church and paced angrily down the street; his only thought was getting a cigarette to calm himself. But though he walked for blocks, he could not find a single convenience store. He immediately began constructing an idea, and within a week he opened a small shop on that street. In a few months he opened another, then another, until he had a dozen thriving shops earning him money hand over fist. One day, after he made his sizable weekly deposit at the bank, the bank manager took him aside and advised him to begin investing in stocks and bonds that would pay a far better dividend than just a bank account. He presented a document that outlined the plan that would accomplish this, all he had to do was sign. It was then that the man confessed, “But I cannot make out a word of it. You see, I never learned to read.” The manager was floored. “But you are a millionaire! And you never even learned to read? Imagine what you could have been if you had!” At this, he smiled wryly and said, “My good man, I would be a verger.”

You just never know.

Story adapted from ‘The Verger’ by Somerset Maugham, 1929.


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