The parable of Jim and Joe

Setting: Joe returns home after work to find a package on his doorstep: it’s a present from his friend Jim in Milwaukee! How thoughtful of him! He opens it up to find a book on origami, a topic of common interest among the two and their mutual friends in the Origami Club. Overjoyed, he calls Jim up.

Joe: How can I ever thank you!

Jim: Don’t worry about it – I found it at a bookstore down the street.

Joe: This book has always been too expensive for me to buy.

Jim: I know, but since I could afford it and I knew you needed it–

Joe: I can’t thank you enough, Jim! You drove all the way to Boston to deliver it!

Jim: I’m sorry?

Joe: I said thanks for making that long trip to get it here. That’s means more to me than the book itself!

Jim: Well Jim, of course I didn’t actually drive it there.

Joe: Oh, Jim, tell me you didn’t buy an airplane ticket just to bring me this book! What a friend you are! Wait’ll I tell Simon…

Jim: Uh, Joe…I just sent it Media MailĀ®. Didn’t you see the packaging? What’d you expect? I’m a Postal Service manager!

Joe: Pretty sly, Jim. Way to test my faith in your friendship! But as you see, I’ve passed! Besides, I just remembered that Larry told me you were going to be hand-delivering me a present, so I guess this was it! You see, I know enough about you to realize that you’re much too good a friend to just send it through the mail – why, my present could have gotten lost in the shuffle! No, you’re much too conscientious for that. Plus, you’re not a liar, so what you told Larry must have been true. Oh, Simon is gonna be so jealous!

Jim: I sent a copy to Simon and the other club members, too. And as for Larry, I told him I was bringing it with me to the post office rather than putting it in the mailbox. Either he got mixed up a little on the details or you misunderstood him. But anyway, I did pay for insurance on it – I would have gotten it to you one way or another, you know.

Joe: Unbelievable. I just realized what happened: you rode along in – or maybe even drove – the mail truck just to make sure it got here! Probably wanted to make sure it didn’t run out of gas or make a wrong turn anywhere. Pastor Duane always said that mail trucks can’t get anywhere without running into some problem or other. So the fact that the package arrived at my doorstep is proof positive that you intervened to make sure the delivery happened without any hitches. That’s it, isn’t it? Whaddaya wanna bet that Simon swallows your clever cover story hook, line, and sinker! He never did like you as much as I do.

Jim: You’re not listening to me: I sent it through the mail because I of all people am aware of the contingencies of mail travel. Besides, I mostly just wanted you to enjoy the book, you know.

Joe: Heh heh…all right, good stuff, but you better tone it down or Simon and the others definitely won’t believe me. I think you might have covered your tracks too well, Jim! Don’t worry, we’ll make sure you get the proper credit: I’m going to get Mike, Bill, and Phil to verify that you were in the mail truck, and then–

Jim: Joe, I’m telling you, I just sent it through the mail, normal channels, and I didn’t have to personally interfere with the delivery.

Joe: But Larry said–

Jim: Joe, just enjoy the book, ok? And you know, if I am not telling you the truth about this now, why should you believe what I supposedly told Larry?

Joe: But–

Jim: Who are you going to believe? What you think Larry heard me say or me?

Joe: <long pause> You sly dog! Almost had me there! Now let me see what kind of honor I could give this gift of yours…how does a museum and theme park sound?

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