On a quiet little street corner, there was a small shop owned by Harvey Goldstein. Mr. Goldstein was a well-to-do merchant. He traded in all sorts of imports, and was generally a moral man.
He did not buy goods from sweatshops nor did he ever cheat a customer. At 1:31 P. M. on May 15, 1996, he stepped out of his shop on the Upper East Side of Manhattan to meet a man who dealt in Asian silk screens downtown. He had been listening to traffic radio AM 530 and, deciding that traffic was too heavy, planned to take the subway.
Goldstein was a smart man, very smart, who had built his store and his fortune out of blood, toil, tears, and sweat. Goldstein was also an upstanding member of the Jewish community whom everybody loved, but he never did anything extra, out of the ordinary, for anyone but himself. On the other side of town there was a new arrival to the city. This man’s name was Running Bear. He was an American Indian who had gone to New York to seek his fortune; however, he soon fell upon hard times. He had lived a life of monetary deprivation on the plains of Colorado, and had proceeded to New York by Amtrak with only a dollar and a dream.
Things did not go as planned, though; he could not find a job and had taken to panhandling and sleeping in the streets. His dreams, no doubt influenced by the fumes coming up from the sewer, were of money. A good man who only wanted to work and make a decent living, he had gone to the welfare office a few blocks north of Goldstein’s shop. He was sent to the employment office downtown, and decided to take the subway. No doubt, the welfare officials and social workers sent him away with a sad shrug and a sigh.
They knew he was a simple man. The two men saw each other waiting for the same train downtown. Interestingly enough, they were the only two waiting for the subway car, as a terrorist group had threatened to bomb a train and New Yorkers had generally taken the threat seriously. They looked at each other briefly, sized one another up, and got on the train. While on the train, Running Bear began fiddling with a hatchet; tossing it up in the air over and over again in boredom. Mr.
Goldstein was staring at a quarter moving around on the ground debating whether or not he should pick it up. Just as Mr. Goldstein reached down to pick up the quarter, Running Bear dropped his hatched on the ground. Both of them took at a glance at the other; just then an explosion rocked the tracks.
The Islamic militants had not been bluffing this time. Each man died without knowing exactly what had happened to him and both of the men’s thoughts had been of money. Goldstein was thinking about refinancing his mortgage and taking a loan out on the equity in his car in order to purchase new inventory and make a solid profit. Running Bear had been thinking of how nice it would be to find a suitcase full of hundred-dollar bills. The men both arrived at the gates of heaven.
St. Peter, following his superiors’ orders, knew that he needed these men to fill the quotas for the new affirmative-action plan put into place; what better than a Native American and a Jew to place into spots that would have previously been occupied by only Christians. St. Peter knew that these men weren’t actually qualified for entrance into heaven, but he devised a plan to help. “Running Bear” he said, “you were a hard-working guy, and you never did anything wrong.
However, you never did anything right either. I think, however, that this fault was due to the fact that you had no money. Therefore, I am going to send you back to Earth to live for five years. There, you will have a chance to show me how you