One day a homeless man was going through some trash when he discovered an old lamp. As he tossed it aside, it rubbed up against his sleeve and a genie appeared. The man stared in disbelief as the genie offered him three wishes. The man thought for a moment and then spoke.
“Every day I sit on the same corner, passed by the same people,” he said. “They all walk past with their damn iPods and headphones, pretending like they don’t hear or see me. I wish that nobody would wear headphones on that corner ever again.”
The genie nodded his head and said “What you desire has come to be.” The next day, the man sat on his corner as usual and watched the people go by. Not a single person was wearing headphones or listening to music. But when the man asked the passersby for their spare change, people turned their heads and averted their eyes. No one stopped to help.
The man pulled out the lamp again and called forth the genie. “Everyone is still ignoring me. I wish that no one would ever ignore me when I speak to them ever again!”
The genie nodded his head and said “What you desire has come to be.” The genie disappeared back into the lamp, and the man began speaking to the people walking by. As he asked for money, he heard many excuses, but still got no money. Some people shouted at him angrily, some directed him to a shelter, and others said they had no change to give.
By the time the sun started to set, the man was furious. He pulled the lamp out one last time and summoned the genie. “I still have no money!” shouted the man. “For my last wish I wish that everyone that walked by me would feel sorry for me and give me as much money as they could!”
The genie nodded his head and said “What you desire has come to be.” Suddenly, the man’s hat started filling with money as the people passed him, and not just change, but large bills. It was the most money the man had ever seen.
“Thank you genie,” said the man. “And where will you go now?”
“I will go where I am needed, but before I go, I must ask you one question,” replied the genie. “You could have just wished to no longer be poor. Why did you spend your wishes the way you did?”
“Well,” answered the man, “why should I have to change who I am?” and sat back down on his corner.