Work Smart Not Hard — A Funny Story

At a time when the great land in which they lived was impoverished an accountant and a storyteller both happened to arrive at a crossroads looking for gainful employment to earn enough to eat dinner and find a place to sleep.  The accountant verbally abused the storyteller saying that he, because of his stature and superior education, should rightfully be able to seek employment at the crossroads without passersby being put off by a lowly storyteller.

The storyteller thought for a moment and then agreed to defer to the accountant if he would answer two questions.  The accountant who considered himself superior in all matters agreed.  The storyteller first asked what the accountant would do to earn enough from the passersby to buy dinner and lodging for the evening.  “Why that is simple”,  said the accountant,  “I will offer my advice to complex financial problems.  For that advice they would have to pay greatly and to ensure that I don’t demean my profession I shall offer to any who employ me twice the work for regular wages.  Surely even an idiot would understand the value that I offer to the wise who avail themselves of my vast knowledge and experience.” 

“Will you allow me to sing a song once you have finished offering your advice?” asked the storyteller.   Hearing this question the accountant knew that the storyteller was not a threat, and was probably and idiot as he knew that the storyteller had a terrible voice.  “Of course!” said the accountant, and they both waited patiently for their first client. 

In a little while a rich man stopped at the crossroads and the Accountant approached him full of self-praise and offered his services for the very reasonable fee.  After giving the rich man some very good advice to very complex matters the accountant was about to ask for his fee when the Storyteller stood up.  “What does he want?” asked the rich man.  “He wants to sing for you” replied the accountant, and sing he did.  The storyteller’s voice was so loud, and terrible that they both winced.  Visibly angered the rich man shouted, “Where did you learn to sing, you are terrible!”  “Why the accountant of course,” said the storyteller, “I just followed his advice” he said smiling broadly.

Upon hearing this the rich man gave a tip to the Storyteller who saved him from the humiliation of the accountant’s advice and ran away from both of them as fast as his feet could carry him.  Fortunately the tip was enough for two meals and two rooms at the Inn, and of course the storyteller shared his bounty with the accountant as he was the source of both of their fortune.

The moral of this story, or rather one moral, is that numbers can only go so far and when you really have to get a job done find a good story as stories trump numbers more often than not.  The simple way this moral is often expressed is –Work Smart Not Hard, but then again it may have been an accountant who summarized it to four words leaving out the kernal of value in the story.