Tag Archives: corruption

1987. The number of toffees

(Note: I wrote this story four months prior to the Presidential Election in the United States. Being a foreigner I was not keen to meddle in American politics, but didn’t want the occasion to pass without a story. Hence, today’s story doesn’t take sides. In fact, as you will see, it possibly has nothing to do with the election. I’m not actually trying to make a point – this was posted even before voting began!)

You might think that organizing a simple “Guess the number of toffees in the jar” competition at the local fair was a pretty easy task. Not so! People paid a good five dollars to enter, the prize being a vehicle donated by a nearby car manufacturer. It was all for a good cause. The children’s hospital needed forty new beds, and the locals had got together and organized a fair.

Pauline was in charge. Her cousin, Michael, had come to stay a few days and he was a most willing helper, although he was not seen publicly. It was after all a local fund raiser.

Michael’s task was to act as if he had never met Pauline before. When Pauline announced that the winner was 124, Michael would step forward as a stranger and receive the car keys.

“And the winner is…” declared Pauline dramatically, “the winner is Michael! Don’t ask me who Michael is, but if he’s here could he please step forward.”

That was when the policeman declared that to be fair the toffees in the jar had to be counted by two independent observers.

Pauline and the police officer had an argument. The policeman prevailed. Gavin and Gwendoline were asked to count the toffees. It came to 124. Michael had won the car after all, which just goes to show that corruption can pay off if it’s properly organized.