The Lawyer and the Elephant

Lowrie Beacham sent me this lovely old story.

It seems that there were two brothers; one went to business school and became a banker, the other went to law school and became a lawyer. As will happen in some families, they drifted apart. So much so, that they completely lost touch with each other; neither knew the address or phone number of the other.

The banker did very well. He became vice president of a large eastern bank, which had many, many branches. One day, the banker realized that they were soon approaching the lawyer’s 50th birthday and he really ought to try to locate his brother. He set about this methodically, got a letter off to various bar associations, etc., until finally his efforts were rewarded. He received a letter that his brother was vice president and general counsel for a small circus in an out-of-the-way place in Kansas. No phone number given. Directory assistance was of no help; the circus did not have a telephone.

So the banker flew to Kansas City and then took a bus to Topeka. At the bus station in Topeka, he asked a cab driver for help, and the latter allowed that for just $20, he could take the banker to the circus. And he did. He drove the banker to the outskirts of town and then to a smaller town, and then to a little village, and at the far end of the village was the circus. A sad sight. Covered with Kansas dust. All the trucks and trailers needed a paint job. Sad. Not second rate, not even third rate…

And there he found his brother’s trailer, with the brother’s name on the door, followed by “Vice President and General Counsel.” The banker knocked on the door. The lawyer opened the door. They tearfully embraced, and each told the other what he had been doing the last 25 years.

After about 30 minutes of this, the lawyer looked at his watch, and said, “Time to give the elephant an enema.”

“WHAT?” asked the banker, as the lawyer dressed himself in a yellow rain slicker.

“Time to give the elephant his enema,” repeated the lawyer.

“What ARE you talking about?” asked the banker.

“Come with me,” said the lawyer. “You see, the circus has fallen on hard times. We didn’t have the money for liability insurance. Last year, after the circus had its parade through a small town, an old man slipped on a ‘deposit’ the elephant left on the street. The old man broke his leg. We were sued; no insurance, and the large judgment which resulted all but wiped us out. We just couldn’t afford another claim like that. It would put us out of business. And there is a parade this afternoon.”

With that the lawyer walked outside, dressed in his rain slicker, grabbed a fire hose, inserted the nozzle into the elephant’s rectum and turned on the hydrant. Almost immediately, the elephant had a most normal reaction; he sprayed the hapless lawyer from head to toe with fecal matter.

The banker stood there, out of range, and watched these proceedings in utter disbelief. First, he couldn’t speak at all; then he said to his brother, “Please! You don’t have to do that! Come back east with me. I have a good position with the bank. I can get you a CLEAN job as teller, maybe even as loan officer!”

And the lawyer, wiping his face, answers, shouting, “WHAT?!! AND GIVE UP THE PRACTICE OF LAW???”

Bob Levi responded:

The story reminded me of the one about the fellow who worked for 25 years at the circus. He never amounted to anything and was locked into the menial task of cleaning up after the animals, particularly the elephants. Someone asked him why he never took the incentive to improve himself and leave that extremely distasteful job. His reply was, “What? And give up show biz? ”

Howell Gwin indicated there are similar stories about the guy who emptied honey wagons at the airports and didn’t want to leave aviation.

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