Krylov’s THE CAT AND THE NIGHTINGALE*

Posted by jlubans on July 28, 2020  •  Leave comment (0)

20200728-rayevkrilovcatandbirdb.jpg
Caption: Reproduction of painting by E.M. Rayev 1961(also known as E. Rachyova and Evgenij Mihajlovich Rachev (1906-1997).

A CAT, which had caught a Nightingale, stuck its claws into the poor bird, and, pressing it lovingly, said,
"Dear Nightingale, my soul! I hear that you are everywhere renowned for song, and that you are considered equal to the finest singers.
My gossip, the Fox, tells me that your voice- is so sonorous and wonderful that, at the sound of your entrancing songs, all the shepherds and shepherdesses go out of their wits.
I have greatly desired to hear you—don't tremble so, and don't be obstinate, my dear: never fear; I haven't the least wish to eat you.
Only sing me something; then I will give you your liberty, and release you to wander through the woods and forests.
I don't yield to you in love for music, and I often purr myself to sleep."
Meanwhile our poor Nightingale scarcely breathed under the Cat's claws.
" Well, why don't you begin?" continued the Cat.
" Sing away, dear, however little it may be."
But our songster didn't sing; only uttered a shrill cry.
" What! is it with that you have entranced the forest?" mockingly asked the Cat.
"Where is the clearness, the strength, of which everyone talks incessantly?
Such a squeaking I 'm tired of hearing from my kittens.
No; I see that you haven't the least skill in song.
Let's see how you will taste between my teeth."
And it ate up the poor singer, bones and all.
___________
Krylov published
this fable in 1824 during a time of many prohibitions and wide censorship in Russia.
Just about any topic not to the liking of the censor could get a writer canceled.
While the press’ freedom improved in later decades the practices from the1820s served as a prescription (among other Czarist horrors like executions by the secret police and internment in Siberia) for Stalin and his successors. I’d guess Mr. Putin is not a fan of this fable.
Krylov depicts the depredations of censorship, akin to today’s cancel culture. Get on the wrong side of the woke “mob” and you will be disappeared, figuratively. However, once the mob’s in charge, you will vanish, literally.

*Source: Krilof and his fables, by Krylov, Ivan Andreevich, 1768-1844; Ralston, William Ralston Shedden, 1828-1889. Tr. London, 1869.

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A “Happiness Engineer☺” Contemplates Unhappiness ☹ - A Fable*

Posted by jlubans on July 17, 2020  •  Leave comment (0)

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Isaac, a new Happiness Engineer (HE) at BlogWorld, is having second thoughts.
He knew he’d be part of a call center, however highfalutin’ the job description, but the pay was good and he definitely agreed with the stated perquisite: “you love helping people.”
The job was highly satisfying since he could demonstrate his superb technical proficiency – the feedback was consistently positive.
But, while his love of helping remains true our epidemic times have resulted in more people canceling their accounts:
“My designer is sick; he can’t work on my blog. I want to get my annual fee back.”
“I’m sick with the virus and the doctors tell me it’s going to be a long recovery.”
“I have no time for my blog, what with teleworking and homeschooling my kids. I’ve not even gone public with the blog; can I get my annual fee back?“

BlogWorld’s refund policy had been the Golden Rue – we want customers to be “happy” even if they leave us.
Now, there’s a new policy: Keep the Money. The boilerplate script has Isaac saying no, spreading unhappiness.
Indeed, the epidemic is the reason not to refund; somewhere in the small print of the multi-page user agreement there’s a clause exempting BlogWorld’s refunds from epidemics.
Increasingly, the negative vibes from unhappy customers counters the positive feelings Isaac gets from helping a client figure out the technicals.
The script offers no leeway, no exceptions. All Isaac can do is recite, Kafkaesque-like the boilerplate about no refunds.
Isaac is conflicted, as they say. He wonders why, if people are in a fix, can’t BlogWorld accommodate their situation; eventually kindness will be returned.
To put it into the IT vernacular, Isaac is no longer “pumped”. He’s on his way out but just does not know it yet.
He’s talked with the corporate Happiness Officer, to no avail. If the HO was ever really happy (content and joyful), he has become less so.
There are rumors of reductions in force.
The grape vine has HEs as among the first to be replaced with an offshore call center.
One day his supervisor finds a note pinned to Isaac’s empty cubicle:
“I quit.”
Moral: Ignore the Golden Rule and lose/lose. You’ll lose customers and you’ll lose (in more ways than one) staff.
____________
*An original
fable by John Lubans in the style of George Ade.
An epidemic brings out the worst and best in organizations.
This fable is based on recent personal experience with KLM airlines ☹, WordPress ☹, Allianz travel insurance ☹, AirBnb ☹, the Latvian National Opera ☺, Russia’s visa office ☹ ☹! and its USA agent ☹, and the Hermitage museum ☺.
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An Inuit Fable: THE OWL AND THE TWO RABBITS*

Posted by jlubans on July 05, 2020  •  Leave comment (0)

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AN Owl saw two Rabbits playing close together and seized them both, one with each foot.
But the Rabbits were too strong for him, and ran away, dragging the Owl with them.
The Owl's wife shouted to him: "Let one of the Rabbits go and kill the other!"
But the Owl replied, "The moon is waning and will soon disappear, and then we shall be hungry; we shall need both of them."
The Rabbits ran on; and when they came to a boulder, one of the Rabbits ran to the right side, while the other ran to the left side of it.
The Owl was not able to let go quickly enough and so was torn in two.

------------------
We’ve heard the adage; a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. Here, two rabbits in hand are one too many for Mr. Owl.
He should have listened to the Mrs, some would say. Alas, he didn’t.
Like the classic the Dog and His Reflection
the fable shows the consequences of being greedy.
But, there’s more.
Are there not times when we (individual or corporate) choose to hold onto things we’d be better off letting go?
We may cling to an overflowing storage space full of delayed decisions: or we can stubbornly stick with antiquated ways of working or we fail to replace inadequate leadership.
I ran into this mindset while trying to change a hidebound organization to one willing to act on new ideas, new ways to provide quantifiably better service to our clients.
If this organization had a motto, it was: “We’ve always done it this way and we are proud of it!”
After years of crashing into our metaphoric Boulder we finally began letting go. Eventually we became a “client-first” model and some of us wondered what took us so long?

*Source: Fable From “The Eskimo in Baffin Land”, by Franz Boas included in Cooper, Frederic Taber, 1864-1937. “An argosy of fables; a representative selection from the fable literature of every age and land.”
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