After browsing around for quite some time, a particularly obstinate patron at Ben Franklin’s book store refused to accept the price offered by a store clerk. Certain that speaking to the owner would obtain him a better price, the man demanded the clerk summon the proprietor. Franklin’s newspaper operation was located in the bookstore’s backroom, and the patron’s summons dragged Franklin from working at the press. Upon Franklin’s arrival the man asked “What is the lowest price you can take for this book, sir?” In an effort to teach the man to value the time of others, Ben Franklin entered the bargaining session. “One dollar and a quarter” answered Franklin. Responding with great surprise the patron replied “One and a quarter! Why, your clerk asked me only a dollar just now.” Franklin responded “True, and I could have better afforded to take a dollar than to leave my work.”
Questioning the sincerity of Franklin’s position, the patron continued “Well, come now, tell me the lowest price for this book.” Franklin’s wry response “One dollar and a half.” “A dollar and a half!” shouted the patron, “Why, you just offered it for a dollar and a quarter.” “Yes,” Franklin said, “and I could have taken that price then than a dollar and a half now.” Understanding that he had been outwitted, the patron paid the Franklin a dollar and half for the book and departed.
Louis Albert Banks provided the moral to this story when he wrote the following sentence as a closing. “He [the patron] had learned not only that he who squanders his own time is foolish, but that he who wastes the time of others is a thief.”
Banks, Louis Albert. Capital Stories About Famous Americans (New York: 1905) The Christian Herald. pp. 178-79.