There was once a trolley conductor, honest as the day was long, loyal, faithful and true, who married a young woman whom he truly loved. They lived together in a tiny apartment. They had little in the way of possessions, but a lot in the way of love. One of the things that got in the way of that love was the young bride’s need for material things. The poor man was forced to get a part time job to pay for new furnishings, clothes, cars, jewelry etc etc etc. Things were very difficult for the poor guy. After a while, there was not enough money from the two jobs to support the style to which she had become accustomed, so she called him into her suite and said: “I’m afraid that you will have to come up with more money, or I will leave you.” “However”, she whispered, “I have a plan.” “You will leave your second job, and will rely soley upon your work as a conductor, you will take one small penny from each fare. No one will notice, and we will be able to live as we like.” As difficult as this was to accept, the young man agreed. Soon he was pocketing the pennies and life was good.

Gentle Reader, I’m sure you know what came next. There was not enough money in the pennies to satisfy the young bride’s need. Soon the conductor was taking two cents. Then three. Then a nickel. Then six cents. then eight. At this time you must know that the fares were only a dime. Finally the poor young conductor was taking a dime out of each fare. The Transit Company became suspicious.

They hired a detective to ride the trolley and find out once and for all why there were no fares being turned in. The young man knew he was caught, gave up on the spot, was relieved of his duties as a conductor, and arrested.

The trial came swiftly as promised by the law of the land. The poor man was convicted and sentenced to death. Remanded to the State Prison to await his fate in the Electric Chair.

As he sat in his lonely cell, the bars looked as if they were stacks of pennies, nickels and dimes, the rattle of the dinner plates reminded him of the fares falling into the box. The bare cell made him think of the life of crime he had led for material gain. Finally they came for him. As he walked that last mile to the Death Chamber, he imagined that the footsteps sounded like bags of nickels and dimes and pennies being dropped on the floor, and tinkling of keys in the guards pockets was like the bell of the trolley off in the distance.

They arrived at their final destination, strapped him in the chair, backed into the observation room, where the warden pulled the switch. Nothing happened. Unfazed, the warden had all the power in the prison routed to the Death Chamber. He pulled the switch again. Nothing. A swift call to the Utility brought all the power in the State to bear upon this young man in the chair. Once again the switch was pulled. Once again nothing happened.

Finally the Governor himself strode into the Death Chamber, pulled the mask from the young man’s face and demanded to know why he had been spared. The young man gazed into the Governor’s eyes and said: “Do you think it is because I am a poor conductor?”

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