The Man Who Could See Only Money

The Man Who Could See Only Money

Once there was a man with a strange eye disease. When he was about fifty years old, his eyes began to behave very peculiarly.

Perhaps you have heard of persons who saw spots or specks in front of their eyes. This man's trouble was similar. Only, instead of seeing spots, he saw dollar marks. No matter where he looked, his vision was cluttered up by images of large dollar signs in each eye.

At first he only saw this large "S" sign with two lines through the middle when he was at his place of business. Then he saw it whenever he looked at a customer, then when he looked at the outdoor scenery. Finally, he couldn't even look at his wife's face without seeing a large dollar sign right in the middle of her face.

It was disconcerting, to say the least. Furthermore, it was dangerous. He even found it difficult to read the markers along the highway or to tell whether a traffic light was red or green.

He had always thought of the dollar sign as the most pleasing of all insignia, especially when written in black ink. Now he positively hated it. Yet he couldn't escape the sight of it. The big double-crossed "S" was the last thing he saw at night and the first picture to cross his vision in the morning. He even dreamed of it in bed.

Before he told anybody about his affliction, he went to the dime store and tried the most expensive spectacles on the counter. They brought no relief.

Then he sought help from the local eye doctor. He didn't tell the doctor what was really the matter but complained of "eye­strain." The doctor fitted him with fine-looking horn-rimmed glasses, but these, too, did him no good. In fact, just thinking of what the glasses cost made his affliction worse than ever. Finally, his wife, who was alarmed over his frequent headaches, made an appointment for him with a famous city specialist.

As they neared the specialist's office, his eyes throbbed with pain. Dollar signs literally danced before his eyes, so worried was he about what the doctor might charge him. He could barely make out the letters on the medical diploma which hung in the waiting room.

The specialist examined him thoroughly, checking him from head to toe. After the examination he asked Mr. Jones, for that was his name, many questions about his personal and business life. Mr. Jones was not used to being treated so, and declared that he came for a check on his eyes, not a mental examination.

The physician turned and looked out the window a long time. Then he faced Mr. Jones and said: "Mr. Jones, I could fit you with eyeglasses and charge you fifty dollars, but you wouldn't be helped in the least. The trouble isn't in your eyes at all, but in your general system. My prescription is most unusual. You can follow it if you want. That's up to you. Or you can try another specialist. But I guarantee that you will lose your entire vision unless you take my advice!"

Mr. Jones pondered. He knew this man was telling the truth, for he was the greatest eye specialist in the country. He nodded to the doctor.

"What is it? I'll do anything to see like I once did. Why, this morning I couldn't see my son's face at breakfast. Only a large dollar sign perched on his neck."

When the doctor told him his prescription, Mr. Jones was the angriest man you ever saw. He wouldn't do such a crazy thing! What would become of his business? He didn't have time for such tomfoolery. He came for medical advice, not sermons, he said. The doctor told him he was finding it hard nowadays not to give both.

Well, Mr. Jones did try. Considering his stubborn nature, he tried exceedingly hard. He took a six-months vacation from his business and raised his assistant's salary one-third for him to run his affairs during his absence.

Then he took a tour of slums in nearby cities, visiting around in poor homes with social workers, ministers, priests, and others whom society pays to deal with people down on their luck.

He saw crippled men who were injured years before in accidents and whose wives worked hard to supplement their small pensions. He saw families where the father was serving a prison term. He saw how ashamed their children were and how the wives worked long hours to provide them with decent clothing and food.

He went with the public health nurse and saw children who were losing their teeth because of poor diets. He saw young mothers who looked old at thirty from hard work and too many children.

Mr. Jones was terribly saddened and yet angry when he visited slums where people were crammed together in horrible tenements, whole families living in one room. His conscience burned with the recollection that his own minister had described this very place when appealing for mission money, and that he, Mr. Jones, had refused to give.

He saw children under five playing ball in the dirty streets, many blocks away from a public playground. He wanted to know how any city could be so shortsighted as to allow this condition to exist. He visited camps where lived migrant workers who pick the beans, apples, grapes, and other crops. There he saw many children who never attended any, school or church because their Parents moved so frequently. Their pale little faces haunted him.

His doctor's Prescription took him to the "home" of his wife's cleaning woman. He wondered how she could possibly face such quarters after a day of work in his own fine home. Yet, she always seemed cheerful enough.

Mr. Jones entered the home of one of his own. employees, a mild fellow named Nelson. He saw how Nelson's children loved their father, especially the six-year-old boy in bed with rheumatic fever. Mr. Jones vaguely remembered hearing about the child's illness, but he had never interested himself in his employees' personal affairs. Now, the boy's face, full of innocence and intelligence like a faun's, replaced the dollar signs before his eyes. For the first in years Mr. Jones shed tears. Two great big salty drops ran down his cheeks, followed by others. He told the Nelsons he had a cold and quickly departed.

Next morning at breakfast he saw his wife clearly for the first time in months. To tell the truth, he hadn't given her a good look in years, anyway. He had been too busy making money. Now he saw with pride how much she resembled the bride of twenty-five years ago.

He began to see other people's faces clearly too. Instead of dollar signs atop their necks, he saw their eyes, ears, noses—the entire face. He saw them as people.

When he finally returned to his business, he was a cured man, and a changed one. Some of his employees thought the old man "is going batty," but they soon decided it was a pleasant form of insanity and much nicer in every way than whatever bothered him before. Where a clerk made a bookkeeping mistake, he didn't rage like he did in the old days, but gave a hearty laugh and told them to straighten it out somehow or "charge it to profit and loss." However, the business seemed to gain all the time, despite his new careless attitude toward money. In fact, business was so good, he raised every employee's wages.

He sent the Nelson boy to the best medical specialist. Within a short time the child was much better.

He was such a changed man that many of his business friends asked him the secret of his new-found health. Some of them complained to him: "I keep seeing funny things in front of my eyes. . . ."

Then Mr. Jones would say with the gusto of somebody who has made a great discovery: "I know just the man for you!"

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